In the 1980s, there were a slew of extremely brilliant footballers on display, but they were all overshadowed by a true genius, a once-in-a-generation talent who may still be the greatest player the game has ever seen: Diego Maradona. In the 1980s, there was an explosion of talent or at least a lot more of it was brought to the world's attention. Players from all around Europe, from Van Basten to Franco Baresi, demonstrated their skills and claimed the title of best in the world. Of course, no 80s list would be complete without mentioning Zico. Here we take a look at the best XI of the 1980s. The formation chosen is 4-3-2-1, a popular formation during that era.
Goalkeeper: Toni Schumacher (West Germany)
Schumacher is a former goalkeeper for the German national football team. With 1. FC Köln, he won a Bundesliga title as well as three DFB-Pokal titles. He was the representative of West Germany on the international stage. Schumacher won the 1980 European Championship but lost both the 1982 and 1986 World Cup finals. He controversially collided with and critically injured French defender Patrick Battiston in the 1982 FIFA World Cup semi-final. In 1984 and 1986, Schumacher was named German Footballer of the Year.
Right-Back: Giuseppe Bergomi (Italy)
Bergomi is a retired Italian footballer who played his entire career with Inter Milan. Bergomi, a one-club guy, was the club's longest-serving captain and held the record for most appearances for several years. Bergomi and Italy won the 1982 FIFA World Cup. He also participated in the 1986 and 1990 campaigns (the latter as captain), as well as UEFA Euro 1988, where the country reached the semi-finals and he was named to the tournament's best team. He won the UEFA Cup three times with Inter, and he also reached the final for the fourth time in 1997.
Centre-Back: Franco Baresi (Italy)
Baresi completed his entire 20-year career with Serie A club AC Milan, captaining the team for 15 seasons. He primarily played as a sweeper or centre defence. Three UEFA Champions League titles, six Serie A titles, four Supercoppa Italiana titles, two European Super Cups, and two Intercontinental Cups were all won with Milan. He was a member of the Italian squad that won the 1982 FIFA World Cup with the national team. He also competed in the 1990 World Cup, earning a spot on the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team after placing third in the competition. Baresi's number 6 shirt was retired by Milan after his final season in 1997.
Centre-Back: Ronald Koeman (Netherlands)
Koeman could play as a defender or a midfielder, and he was frequently used as a sweeper, however, he was also recognised for his goalscoring, long-range shooting, and free-kick and penalty accuracy. With Ajax and PSV, he won four Eredivisie titles. In 1988, he won the European Cup with PSV. He moved to Barcelona, where he won four league crowns and a European Cup. During his time with the Netherlands, Koeman won the UEFA Euro 1988 and participated in the FIFA World Cups in 1992, 1990, and 1994, captaining the team in the latter. He is still the all-time leading scorer among defenders in football.
Left-Back: Andreas Brehme (Germany)
Brehme is most remembered for scoring the game-winning penalty kick for Germany in the 1990 FIFA World Cup Final against Argentina in the 85th minute. He played for a number of clubs in Germany and also spent time in Italy and Spain. Brehme competed in UEFA Euro 1984, the 1984 Summer Olympics, the 1986 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 1988, the 1990 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 1992, and the 1994 World Cup as a member of the (West) German national team.
Midfielder: Bernd Schuster (Germany)
Schuster is a retired German football player who won club titles while playing for FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in the late 1970s and early 1990s. He was a midfielder who earned the nickname "der Blonde Engel" (the Blond Angel). He played in two of West Germany's four matches at the 1980 UEFA European Football Championship in Italy, winning the title. He was awarded the Silver Ball Trophy for his efforts there.
Midfielder: Michel Platini (Italy)
Platini is considered one of the best players of all time, having won the Ballon d'Or three times (1983, 1984, and 1985) and finishing eighth in the FIFA Player of the Century voting. Platini was a vital member of the France national squad that won the 1984 European Championship and advanced to the semi-finals of the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, where he was the top scorer and best player. Between 1983 and 1985, he won the Serie A Capocannoniere trophy three times in a row, and he was the top scorer in Juventus' European Cup-winning 1984–85 campaign.
Midfielder: Ruud Gullit (Netherlands)
Gullit captained the Netherlands national team to UEFA Euro 1988 victory and was also a member of the squads for the FIFA World Cups in 1990 and 1992. At Milan, he was a member of a Dutch three that featured Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard. With Milan, Gullit won three Serie A titles and two European Cups. Gullit was voted World Soccer Player of the Year in 1987 and 1989 after winning the Ballon d'Or in 1987.
Attacking Midfielder: Zico (Brazil)
Zico is a former footballer and coach from Brazil who played as an attacking midfielder. He was known as the "White Pelé," a creative player with exceptional technical ability, vision, and a goal-scoring eye. With 101 goals from direct free-kicks, Zico is the man with the most goals from direct free-kicks, according to goal.com. Zico is Brazil's fifth-highest goalscorer with 48 goals in 71 appearances for the national side. He competed for Brazil in the World Cups of 1978, 1982, and 1986. None of the tournaments was won by them.
Attacking Midfielder: Diego Maradona (Argentina)
Diego Maradona played for Boca Juniors and Barcelona, but it was at Napoli that he displayed his best talents—along with his national squad of Argentina, of course. With Napoli, Maradona won a UEFA Cup and two Italian league titles, but he will be remembered for his spectacular performances at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, which he helped Argentina win. Diego's fabled "Goal of the Century" was widely recognised as the greatest of all time, and many people still consider it to be so, owing to the occasion as much as the skill required.
Striker: Marco van Basten (Netherlands)
Van Basten is a former professional striker who has represented Ajax, AC Milan, and the Netherlands national team. He scored 300 goals in a high-profile career, but owing to an injury, he retired two years later in 1993, at the age of 28. Van Basten won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1988, 1989, and 1992. He was awarded FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992. With Ajax, he won three Eredivisie titles and the Cup Winners' Cup, as well as three Serie A titles and two European Cups. With Milan, he won three Serie A titles and two European Cups. Van Basten won the Golden Boot at UEFA Euro 1988 with the Netherlands, scoring five goals.