Deceased Eleven 2021

Our final post each year is traditionally our Deceased Eleven in which we select a team from the many great footballers to have passed away this calendar year as a tribute. This is our 2021 edition, the ninth we have published.

As ever we try to select a team that has defensive and attacking balance, no mean feat this year as we sadly lost many brilliant forwards who miss out on selection here, such was the calibre of the options we had to choose from. 

Before we reveal the team, a special mention for some of those players who were considered for the selection but did not make the final cut – consider them the long list. 

Francesco Morini, Rafael Albrecht, Terry Cooper, Aleksandar Shalamanov, Colin Bell, Peter Lorimer Willy van der Kuijlen, Ray Kennedy, Ron Flowers, Dai Davies, Luigi Maldera, Jacques Zimako, Leopoldo Luque, Frank Worthington, Ian St.John, Roger Hunt and Paul Mariner

Click to enlarge

Goalkeeper – Dragan PANTELIĆ (Yugoslavia) Born 1951. 19 caps / 2 goals

An unfussy and reliable keeper who was a key player during a period when his provincial club Radnički Niš was a force in the Yugoslav game. Later played abroad in France and was an international regular in the late 70s and early 80s. 

Right Central Defender – Tarcisio BURGNICH (Italy) Born 1939. 66 caps / 2 goals

A powerful and tenacious player who was the defensive bedrock of il grande Inter during their 1960s heyday. Burgnich could play on the right side of defence or as a central defender or sweeper, and was a classic example of an Italian defender dedicated to his art – one with little interest in crossing the halfway line. 

Sweeper – Mauro BELLUGI (Italy) Born 1950. 32 caps

A teak-tough sweeper who spent his peak years with Inter and Bologna in the 70s, Bellugi was a proper old-school sweeper with fine defensive awareness and a propensity for giving opposing forwards a painful time. The peak of his international career came at the 1978 World Cup where he was a fixture in the Italian back line. 

Left Central Defender – PACHÍN (Spain) Born 1938. 8 caps

A versatile and fiercely loyal defender who was a valuable player for Real Madrid throughout the 1960s. He arrived at the club in time for the famous 1960 European Cup Final win in Glasgow and was still a key defensive resource 6 years later when Madrid’s new Yeyé generation won the club’s sixth European crown. 

Defensive Midfield – Horst ECKEL (West Germany) Born 1932. 32 caps

Fleet of foot and of action, Eckel was a right-sided wing half who was a vital member of the Kaiserslautern side that won national titles in 1951 and 1953. More famously he performed the same role for the West German World Cup winning side of 1954 which relied heavily on his work rate and clever and quick passing, 

Defensive Midfield – Luis del Sol (Spain) Born 1935. 16 caps / 3 goals

Such was the range of his abilities, we could have selected Luis del Sol in any midfield position and he would have been at home there. Through his long career at Real Betis and Real Madrid in Spain, then Juventus and Roma in Italy, del Sol was a tough and inspirational leader who functioned effectively at different times as a box-to-box player, a playmaker and a midfield anchor.

Left Midfield – Bertie AULD (Scotland) Born 1938. 3 caps

A headstrong and emotional player who looked in his earlier days as if he might not fulfil his undoubted talent, Auld’s career only really took off when he returned to Celtic for a second spell in 1965 at the age of 27.

There he blossomed under the tutelage of Jock Stein and adapted into a perceptive, ball-playing midfield role alongside Bobby Murdoch. A key member of the club’s multiple successes of the era including, most notably, the 1967 European Cup Final win over Internazionale.

Central Midfield Attacking – Wilfried VAN MOER (Belgium) Born 1945. 57 caps / 9 goals

Initially a right winger in his younger days at Beveren and Antwerp, Van Moer really found his niche when switched to a central midfield playmaking role with licence to get forward and support his attack.

His best years came with Standard Liege whom he joined for a Belgian record fee in 1968, helping them to three League titles in the eight seasons he spent there. Van Moer was a hugely influential player for his nation too and was arguably the stand out player at the 1980 European Championships. 

RIght Midfield / Wing – Giampiero BONIPERTI (Italy) Born 1928. 38 caps / 8 goals.

Probably the most important player in the history of Juventus whom he served as a player with enormous distinction between 1946 and 1961. An intelligent and elegant player who could play on the right wing, but was at his best as an inside forward who both scored and created goals with ease.

To this day he remains the eleventh highest scoring player in Serie A history and he most memorably formed part of the wonderful late 1950s Juventus attacking trio with John Charles and Omar Sivori.

Centre Forward – Gerd MÜLLER (West Germany) Born 1945. 62 caps / 68 goals

There have been few players in football history with such a disconnect between how they appeared and what they did as Gerd Müller. Neither quick nor athletic, the West German forward barely looked like a footballer at all and yet had ephemeral qualities few strikers in history could match.

Absolutely lethal in the penalty box with an incredible instinct for finding the net from improbable positions and angles, Müller scored 654 goals in 716 club games – mostly with Bayern Munich – and an even better rate of 68 goals in 61 West German international games. 

Centre Forward – Jimmy GREAVES (England) Born 1940. 57 caps / 44 goals

In the same year as the German game lost its greatest striker in Gerd Müller, so the English game lost its equivalent a few months later in the shape of Jimmy Greaves. 

The pair had much in common with their unerring instincts for finding the net with the least fuss possible. Greaves remains England’s record goal scorer with 357 during his time with Chelsea, Tottenham and West Ham.


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