Football/Soccer

A decidedly Dodgy World XI selection

The great Paul McGrath is selected as defensive coordinator the Dodgiest World XI of all-time

PASSING the time in lockdown has proved difficult for many, with some novel ideas put forward to kill a few hours, rather than a few housemates.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher last week asked his Twitter followers to come up with their World XI made up of players from different countries who have never turned out for the same club sides.

After a lot of thinking, tweaking and tinkering, here is Dodgy’s team, a selection full of magic, madness and mayhem. And that’s just Maradona...

Manuel Neuer (Germany)

NO World XI could ever be taken seriously without a German in it, and who better than the most German-looking German in the history of Germany? East or West. Handy enough goalkeeper too, and could step into the back three when the next lad goes walkabout.

Júnior (Brazil)

HE looked like a squashed-down Socrates, and from recollection didn’t really have a position, but in the glorious Brazil sides of 1982 and ’86, Júnior at least had a little bit of defensive responsibility. Not that it stopped him galloping forward like Galloping Mel Gibson in Gallipoli. An all-round class act. Makes you wonder how good Sénior was.

Paul McGrath (Republic of Ireland)

A DEFENSIVE God. Famously refused to give Alan Shearer an Inchicore during a crucial Premier League game after eight cans of lager in the early Nineties. Went even better by keeping Roberto Baggio, Beppe Signori and – most impressively – Phil Babb under total control at the Giants Stadium in 94. If you look closely you can still see a divine ponytail hanging out of McGrath’s back pocket. The best Irish player ever.

Paolo Maldini (Italy)

IT was a toss-up between Maldini and Franco Baresi here, but being left-sided gave the ‘Immaculate Interception’ the edge. This team is all about balance, and the Milan legend was always light on his toes. Has recently come out on the right (or left) side of a one-on-one marking job on the coronavirus, typically without a foot or hair out of place.

Felix Healy (Northern Ireland)

CARLOS Valderrama nearly went in here, but when it comes to moustachioed midfield fulcrums, the Derry man gets in on a dodgy decision. And it is Dodgy’s decision.

He’s playing at the base of the Diamond. Just across from the Sandwich Co. Pulled the strings for an early 80s Coleraine side that delighted this young fan, all shimmies and subtlety. The only things hairier than his upper lip were the legs bulging out of a pair of royal blue Adidas hotpants, briefly ditched for a pair of white ones as he led the Honduras midfield a merry dance for 12 thrilling minutes at the 1982 World Cup.

Swapped blue and white stripes for Candy ones later in the decade and a treble was duly delivered. Can now be seen leading punters a merry dance in music venues across the north-west. You can stick your Valderrama up your Bogside.

Paul Gascoigne (England)

SOME people think ‘Gazza’ is all big mouth, rubber breasts and an imaginary flute. All fur housecoat and no knickers. But for four weeks in 1990 he was the best footballer on the planet. Dodgy was recently derided in a WhatsApp group for saying he’s the most talented English player of the last 40 years. Steven Gerrard was put up as an alternative. Multiple laughing face emojis.

Dragan Stojkovic (Yugoslavia)

THE current Serbia boss was the oil in a magnificent Yugoslav engine at Italia ’90, and can act as the lubricant in what might be well-oiled selection here. More passes than your below-average celebrity on Mastermind. And his name’s Dragan.

Zinedine Zidane (France)

A FREE role for The Bald and The Beautiful. A stunning mix of balletic feet and fearsome temper left hundreds of opponents murdered on Zidane’s floor. Bayer were Leverkusen their luck after the 2002 Champions League final. Marco Materazzi was counting his ribs during the World Cup final four years later. A simply magical madman.

Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium)

MAN City’s maestro has feet like Fred Astaire and hair like Ginger Rogers. KDB can open more stubborn doors than the KGB. With either peg. Dodgy’s dad says he reminds him of Colin Bell, and given that his electrical textbooks are still backed with Colin Bell posters, that’s a massive compliment. A worthy Colin Bell-gian representative.

Kenny Dalglish (Scotland)

THE man with the strongest arse in football during an era of exceptionally strong rear-ends. Stronger even than Gerry Arsestrong. Multiple revisits to The Big Match Revisited over the last few weeks have reminded Dodgy just how good ‘King Kenny’ was. Fittingly, he was a mighty Hoop before becoming a Liverpool legend. A Liverpool legend who isn’t Steven Gerrard.

Diego Maradona (Argentina)

PLENTY say Lionel Messi is better. But could he do it on a sweltering Sunday afternoon in Naples after a full week on the Sepp Blatter with Vito Corleone and Tony Soprano? Won a World Cup single-handed, with that single hand accounting for England in the last eight. Left Peter Reid’s legs in more knots than Peter Shilton’s hair. Left Shilton’s stomach in more knots than his feet on Strictly 30 years later. Terry Butcher wants to butcher him. Diego will do for me. His bloodstream is five-eighths Colombian, so that’s another nation covered. The Greatest.

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Football/Soccer