Cancel your plans for the next two hours.
Two days ago, Jamie Carragher tweeted one of those WhatsApp challenges that occasional do the rounds.
Usually, you can settle on something decent within five minutes, especially if it’s one of those ‘You have £20 to spend on a five-a-side team” circulars — can we all agree we’ve had enough of those now?
However, this latest challenge has proved to be surprisingly difficult with many people failing in one way or another.
Here are the rules:
- You have to make the best XI possible
- You can only use players who have played during your lifetime
- No two players can have played for the same club
- No two players can be from the same country
Pay special attention to the third rule.
This doesn’t just rule out players who have been team-mates, it rules any combinations who have represented the same club at any point in their respective careers, even if they didn’t overlap.
For example, you can’t have Nemanja Vidic and Dennis Bergkamp because both played for Inter Milan.
You can’t have Kalidou Koulibaly and Kevin De Bruyne because they both played for Genk.
You can’t have Mohamed Salah and Samuel Eto’o because they both played for Chelsea.
And so on and so forth.
This restriction means it’s best to avoid players who have played for several top-tier clubs: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Vieira, Edgar Davids, etc
I imagine many of you will start how I did, by penning Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo into the forward line.
It makes sense right, to begin with the two best players of the last 20 years and go from there?
Well, you think that but you soon realise the Portuguese superstar’s career path of Sporting CP-Man United-Real Madrid-Juventus makes life difficult elsewhere.
It’s not impossible to include both Ronaldo and Messi but you’ll be amazed how many players that eliminates for your other nine positions.
In fact, realising you may have to leave Ronaldo out is when this challenge starts to irritate.
I recommend making use of one-club men and players who only played for one top-tier club: Steven Gerrard, Francesco Totti, Javier Zanetti, Ryan Giggs, etc.
After much tinkering, here’s my effort…
If we’re being critical, having Marco Reus in a three-man midfield is somewhat questionable — if you think it’s outright cheating then swap Alessandro Del Piero for Claudio Marchisio and shuffle so it so the Italian is in midfield and the German is the left-sided forward.
Just one final tip: remember Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was once a Milan player.