So this is how it ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. The sound a kicked dog makes when it sees its owner load up another rib-tickler. A third-placed finish, in a tournament of seven.
The team was good. The fundamentals were solid. The defence? Simultaneously solid and exciting. The midfield? Silky, and strong. The forwards? Lights out, forget about it.
But I forgot about one thing. One small, simple, stupid mistake. The voting public don’t care about any of that, or that your left-winger was born in a town called Cheb. They care about players they’ve seen play live in the last 15 years. Idiot.
Without further ado: FK Cheboslovakia.
Goalkeeper and Defenders
Lev Yashin (GK): FIFA’s best goalkeeper of the 21st century? A man who’s meant to have saved about 150 penalties? European and Olympic champion? The man who leapt into the third person to say: “There have only been two world-class goalkeepers. One was Lev Yashin, the other was the German boy who played for Manchester City”? Available with the last pick of the tenth round? On. The. Plane.
Pros: Arguably the best goalkeeper who ever lived. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.
Lilian Thuram (RB): Ah, look. I love Dani Alves as much as the next man. More, probably. Carlos Alberto? Staggeringly good. But with Roberto Carlos already flying down the left, it was time for somebody a little more…cultured.
Pros: Impossible to beat at the back, underrated going forward. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.
Daniel Passarella (CB): Need a goalscoring defender but have to watch as Ronald Koeman gets picked just before you have the chance? No worries, Daniel ‘134 goals in 451 games’ Passarella’s still on the board. And he’s one of the hardest men ever to play the game. And he captained Argentina to their World Cup win in 1978.
Pros: Goals from the back, terrifying. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.
Franco Baresi (CB): Do you know how good you have to be for AC Milan to retire your shirt number? It has literally only happened for Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini. Baresi’s one of the two or three best defenders of all time, at any club, anywhere across the back line. Picking him 14th overall was an absolute steal.
Pros: Literally just amazing at football. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.
Roberto Carlos (LB): Yeah, making Roberto Carlos my fifth pick felt weird. Not that he wasn’t amazing with his thighs the size of the average person’s torso, his marauding runs and all that, but he was still the kind of full-back who only arrives into his own box to ask what happened. On the other hand, sweet jesus there aren’t many all-time left-backs. Had to get the position nailed down.
Pros: Massive quads. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.
Lothar Matthaus (CM): Diego Maradona called him the ‘best rival I ever had’. Really not sure anything needs to be added to that.
Pros: Positionally aware, hard tackler. Cons: Spaceship ego, not born in the town of Cheb.
Marco Tardelli (CM): Another talented two-way player, Tardelli could play just about anywhere in any midfield setup – good on the ball but also absolutely terrifying off it. As the last man picked on this team, The Times’ tenth hardest footballer ever has a point to prove.
Pros: Best celebration of all time. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.
Diego Maradona (AM): First overall pick, because he’s the best player of all time.
Pros: The best player of all time. Cons: People actually drug test now, not born in the town of Cheb.
Jairzinho (RW): A tactical error, but not in terms of how good this team would actually be. Picking him when Luis Figo, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham were still on the board was the right choice for the team (the man scored in all seven of Brazil’s games when they won the 1970 World Cup) but the wrong choice for the braying sentient scrotums on Twitter, who were doing the voting.
Pros: Fantastic body, great goalscorer from the wing. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.
Pavel Nedved (LW): Nedved. Pick 43 in the draft, my seventh player off the board. Sergio Ramos was still there, so were Clarence Seedorf, Thierry Henry, Marco van Basten and Bobby Moore. But none of those players matter, because Pavel Nedved was born in the picturesque town of Cheb in Czechoslovakia, and they weren’t.
Pros: Born in the town of Cheb. Cons: Alright, Ferenc Puskas played inside left and was definitely a better player. And didn’t get picked. By anyone.
Romario (ST): Throw a dart, hit an amazing Brazilian forward. But Romario scored more goals in official matches than Pele. Diego Maradona called him one of the two best players he ever saw. Johan Cruyff called him the best player he ever coached. He was ice cold, hated training and partied like an absolute animal.
Pros: Maybe the best finisher of all time, shagger, legend. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.
Chris Deeley (Manager): Got lumbered with this one, really. Couldn’t do anything about it.
Pros: Great selfie game, good with jokes. Cons: Not born in the town of Cheb.
For more from Chris Deeley, follow him on Twitter at @ThatChris1209!