Though the modern rules of football were developed in 1848, it wasn't until the 1970s that the game became widely recognised. The 1970s produced a lot of great players, but one stands out above the rest: Johan Cruyff. Hugo Sanchez, Teofilo Cubillas, Falcao, Rivelino, Ruud Krol, and Sepp Maier and Franz Beckenbauer of Bayern Munich were all true greats, but none compare to Cruyff. The beautiful game saw a golden era in the 1960s. Here's a look at the best XI from the 1970s. The formation used is a 4-3-3, which was popular at the time.
Goalkeeper: Dino Zoff (Italy)
At the age of 40 years, 4 months, and 13 days, Dino Zoff is the oldest World Cup winner ever, having won it as captain of the Italian national team in the 1982 event. He also received the prize for best goalkeeper of the tournament and was named to the tournament team of the year for his efforts, which included two clean sheets. Zoff is the only Italian player to win the World Cup and the European Championship in the same year. With Juventus, he won six Serie A titles, two Coppa Italia crowns, and a UEFA Cup, in addition to reaching two European Champions' Cup finals.
Right-Back: Berti Vogts (West Germany)
Vogts is a former professional footballer who played as a defender for the German national team. He spent his entire professional career with Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga, winning the FIFA World Cup with West Germany in 1974. Vogts was a popular favourite with his home audience, earning the nickname "Der Terrier" for always fighting for every ball as if it were his last. In the 1974 World Cup final in Munich, West Germany, when West Germany triumphed 2–1, Vogts memorably marked and subdued Johan Cruyff. Vogts scored 32 goals in 419 Bundesliga games with Monchengladbach.
Centre-Back: Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany)
Because of his exquisite manner, dominance, and leadership on the field, Beckenbauer was dubbed Der Kaiser ("The Emperor"). Beckenbauer was voted European Footballer of the Year twice and played in three FIFA World Cups and two European Championships for West Germany. He was the first captain to win the World Cup and European Championship for his country, as well as the European Cup for his club. In 1972 and 1976, he won the Ballon D'Or twice.
Centre-Back: Elias Figueroa (Chile)
During his long career, Figueroa was a defender for a number of clubs, including his local club Santiago Wanderers, Brazilian club Internacional, and Uruguayan club Pearol. He also played 47 times for Chile, including three FIFA World Cups in 1966, 1974, and 1982. While playing for Internacional in 1972 and 1976, he was twice given the Bola de Ouro, the Brazilian Player of the Year award. Three times in a row, he was named South American Footballer of the Year.
Left-Back: Ruud Krol (Netherlands)
Krol is a former professional footballer from the Netherlands who has 83 caps for the national team. He spent the majority of his career with Ajax, his hometown club. Due to his range of passing with both feet, temperament, tactical intelligence, and ability to start attacking plays after winning back the ball, Krol was regarded as one of the best defenders of all time. He primarily played as a sweeper or left-back, but he could play anywhere across the backline or in midfield as a defensive midfielder. In the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups, he came in second place with the Dutch squad.
Defensive Midfielder: Johan Neeskens (Netherlands)
Neeskens was a key member of the Dutch national team that placed second in the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups and is widely regarded as one of the best Dutch midfielders of all time. In 1974, Neeskens joined Cruyff and Michels at FC Barcelona. While his stint at Barcelona was a mixed bag for the club (one cup title in 1978 and the 1979 Cup Winners' Cup), he was a major fan favourite. In a qualifier for the 1982 World Cup, he played his final international match in a 2–0 loss to France in 1981.
Midfielder: Paul Breitner (West Germany)
Breitner is a retired professional footballer from Germany who played as a left-back and midfielder. Breitner was chosen to the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team as one of the top players of his generation. Breitner earned 48 caps for West Germany and was a key member of the 1974 FIFA World Cup-winning team, scoring in the final. He also scored in the 1982 FIFA World Cup final, making him one of only four players (together with Pelé, Vavá, and Zinedine Zidane) to score in two different World Cup final matches.
Midfielder: Rivelino (Brazil)
Rivelino was a key member of Brazil's World Cup-winning team in 1970. He is widely recognised as one of the most graceful football players of all time, as well as one of the greatest players of all time. He worked at Corinthians for most of his career. Rivellino was positioned on the left side of midfield, wearing the number 11 jersey, and scored three goals, including a tremendous bending free-kick against Czechoslovakia. Rivellino also competed in the FIFA World Cups in 1974 and 1978, finishing fourth and third, respectively.
Right-Winger: Zbigniew Boniek (Poland)
Boniek is regarded as one of the best Polish footballers of all time. He was a former right-winger who could also play as a midfielder and second striker. In an 80-cap international career, he scored 24 goals and appeared in three World Cups in a row, helping Poland finish third in 1982 and earning a spot on the Team of the Tournament. Between 1983 and 1985, his biggest triumphs in club football came with Juventus in Italy, when he won the Serie A, Coppa Italia, European Cup, European Cup Winners' Cup, and European Super Cup.
Striker: Gerd Mueller (West Germany)
Mueller scored 68 goals in 62 appearances for West Germany, and after 15 years with Bayern Munich, he set a Bundesliga record with 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga games and an international record with 66 goals in 74 European club games. After a good season with Bayern Munich, he went on to score 10 goals for West Germany at the 1970 FIFA World Cup, winning the Golden Boot. He was the highest goalscorer at the 1972 UEFA European Championship, scoring two goals in the final. He scored four goals at the 1974 World Cup two years later. In 1970, he was awarded the Ballon d’Or.
Left-Winger: Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
Cruyff moved to Barcelona in 1973 after spending his formative years with Ajax, where he won a Copa del Rey and a Spanish league title after already winning a hat-trick of European Cups. Cruyff was a highly regarded player during the Dutch "Total Football" era under Rinus Michels and was a graceful, imaginative player capable of accomplishing feats on the pitch that others could only dream of. He has won the Ballon d'Or three times and has been named European Footballer of the Year three times.