Ever wonder how many players have won the World Cup and played in the Premier League? Well if you have then don’t worry we’re here to help.
The exact answer is that 45 different players have won football’s most coveted prize and competed in English football’s most prestigious tournament. Here’s the best starting XI of players to have done both …
Goalkeeper – Fabian Barthez – Manchester United – France 1998
Barthez was one of the stars of the Les Blues side that won the World Cup on home soil in 1998. Sir Alex Ferguson signed Barthez from Monaco in 2000 to replace legendary shot stopper Peter Schmeichel.
Although the ”Divine Bald One,” did produce some moments of brilliance at Old Trafford he was far too erratic for Fergie’s liking and was sent back home to Marseille after three seasons in the Premier League.
Left-back – Branco – Middlesbrough – Brazil 1994
Branco won 72 caps for Brazil and was one of the key men in the Selecao side that beat Italy on penalties in the final of the 1994 World Cup in the USA.
By the time he rocked up to Middlesbrough in 1996 the talented left-back was about three stone over weight and was pretty blatantly only on Teesside for the money. However, we want a a free kick specialist in our team and considering Branco did this in the World Cup quarter-final against Holland we reckon he’s worth a starting spot …
Centre- back – Marcel Desailly – Chelsea – France 1998
Desailly arrived at Chelsea in 1998 from AC Milan with the reputation as one of the World’s best central defenders. He would stay with Chelsea until 2004 and most top centre forwards of that era all attest that he was the toughest opponent they ever faced.
Desailly was strong as an ox and technically gifted in possession, the former France international is still regarded as one of the best defenders the Premier League has ever seen.
Centre- back – Laurent Blanc – Manchester United – France 1998
Blanc, much like Branco, was well and truly past his best by the time he arrived at Manchester United in 2001. In his prime however, he was a classy ball playing centre half and he formed a formidable partnership with Desailly during France’s World Cup win in 1998.
He get’s a spot in the team just so he can carry out his weird pre-match ritual that involved kissing Barthez’s baldy noggin.
Right-back – Frank Le Beouf – Chelsea – France 1998
Frank The Beef as he name translates to English, was an integral part of the hugely entertaining Chelsea side of the late nineties and early noughties.
Despite being a defender The Beef was renowned for his superb range of passing and was also The Blues regular penalty taker during his time at Stamford Bridge.
Although he usually played as a centre-back we’re choosing him at right-back, because well, it was either him or Alvaro Arbeloa and we can’t be having that!
Left-midfield – Robert Pires – Arsenal – France 1998
Pires was a wonderfully talented winger who was one of the stars of Arsenal’s legendary ”Invincible team.”
He was all gallic flair and arrogance, which made him the type of player you wanted to punch in the face, although at the same time you just couldn’t help but appreciate his brilliance.
We have already rated him as one of the Premier Leagues greatest ever left wingers.
Central midfield – Patrick Vieira – Arsenal and Man City – France 1998
The man, the myth, the legend. Vieira was the talisman of Arsenal’s greatest ever sides between 1996-2005.
The former France international dominated midfields up and down the land with his unique brand of rugged toughness and technical brilliance.
He will go down as one of the greatest ever central midfielders to have ever graced English football.
Central midfield – Emmanuel Petit – Arsenal – France 1998
Petit formed a superb central midfield partnership with Vieira at both international and club level. Although he did not grab the headlines in the way his team-mate did, he was a fearsome competitor and brought immense class and composure in possession.
The Gunners 2002 Invincible’s is often heralded as the greatest team ever to grace the Premier League, although as former Man United defender Gary Neville recently pointed out there are many who think the 1998 vintage, of which Petit was a star, was even better.
Right-midfield – Juninho – Middlesbrough – Brazil 2002
Juninho ”The Little Fella,” Paulista is one of this authors all time favourite Premier League players, and one of the finest foreign imports of the nineties.
The diminutive Brazilian playmaker turned down moves to some of Europe’s biggest clubs to join Bryan Robson’s Middlesbrough in 1995. He had an amazing ability to run at breakneck speed with the ball seemingly stuck to his foot, and was voted Premier League player of the year in 1997, despite Boro being relegated that season.
He will be forever fondly remembered on Teesside and once famously claimed that winning the 2004 League Cup with Boro meant more to him than winning the 2002 World Cup with Brazil.
Centre Forward – Thierry Henry – Arsenal – France 1998
Henry scored 175 goals for the Gunners after joining from Juventus in 1999. While Vieira may have been the rock that Arsene Wenger built his Arsenal empire on, Henry was the match winner.
Blessed with lighting pace, sensational skill levels and lethal finishing ability he is quite rightly regarded by many as the greatest Premier League player of all time.
Centre Forward – Jurgen Klinsmann – Tottenham Hotspur – West Germany 1990
Jurgen Klinsmann arrived at Sheffield Wednesday in 1994 under a cloud of controversy due to his reputation as a diver, something that back then was hugely frowned upon in England.
However on his Spurs debut the former Germany international scored a superb header and immediately dived in celebration, which immediately won the hearts of Premier League fans up and down the land.
Klinsmann was a truly world class striker and few foreign players have made as much of an impact on the English game in such a short space of time as he did.