Soccer’s All Decade Team, Players, Moments, and More

By: Tommy O’Callaghan and Zack Lambert

It’s shaped up to be a truly glorious decade for football as we’ve had everything from dynasties to legitimate debates about the best players of all time. Teams have seen highs and lows, some achieving greatness for the first time, and some adding to their extensive trophy cabinets. Some players left us with our jaws on the floor with sumptuous skills and some left us at the verge of tears with inspirational play. Regardless of who you support, let’s take a ride through the decade to remember just how good we had it one last time.

Best Teams

Honorable Mention – 2019 USA Women’s National Team

The United States aren’t at the forefront of the football world very often but they’re leading the charge in the women’s side of the sport. Headed by the flamboyant and unafraid Megan Rapinoe, the United States won their 2nd straight World Cup and 3rd overall. The USWNT are leaders both on and off the pitch, beating fantastic teams and inspiring women around the world. – Zack

10. 16/17 Monaco

PSG have won Ligue 1 every year since 2012/13 except for once in 2016/17. The culprit? Monaco. This team was loaded beyond recognition with talent that would go on to play integral roles for both club and country. Wonderkid Kylian Mbappé headlined the team with others like Bernardo Silva, Ramadel Falcao, Thomas Lemar, Fabinho, Tiémoué Bakayoko, and Benjamin Mendy also in the starting ranks. It’s no wonder that this team was picked apart by the giants at the end of the season. – Zack

9. 2018 France

Les Bleus have been good for a long while now, falling just short of glory in the 2016 Euros, but they got over the hump with their 2nd World Cup victory in the summer of 2018. France rode the likes of youngsters like Mbappé, Benjamin Pavard, and Lucas Hernandez while being led by the exceptional core of Antoinne Greizmann, Paul Pogba, Raphaël Varane, and Hugo Lloris. France left no survivors in their wake, winning the final 4-2 over Croatia. – Zack

8. 09/10 Inter Milan

A golden year for the Nerazuzzi – Serie A winners, Coppa Italia winners, and coveted Champions League winners all returns to the Black & Blue in Milan. Under the guide of José Mourinho, Inter’s ‘experienced’ team captivated the world of football. The team consisted of players that had deemed to be a surplus to requirements at so called bigger clubs – making the triumphant season all that sweeter. Rock solid at the back through Maicon, Walter Samuel, Lúcio, & the legendary Zanetti. In attack, Wesley Sneijder played the greatest football of his career complimented by Samuel Eto’o & goal machine, Diego Militio. A special time for Inter fans – the only Serie A team to win the Champions League this decade. – Tommy

7. 18/19 Liverpool

Whether the Champions League title is more important than the League title is not for any one person to decide, but it’s difficult to feel top of the world when you don’t win your own league. Regardless, Liverpool came as close to the title as a 2nd place team has ever been considering they finished the season with 97 points, a single shy of Manchester City. The Champions league victory puts them on this list, the Reds looked truly like the world’s best in the European competition. – Zack

6. 2012-Present Juventus

It’s been a remarkable decade for Juventus. 8 Serie A titles out of a possible 9 – AC Milan in 2010/2011 are the only other team with a Serie A title to their name. Antonio Conte & Max Allegri have spearheaded this dominance of Italian football. The legendary Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Pirlo, Tevez, Dybala, & now Cristiano Ronaldo just some of the world class talent to contribute to this success. Although their record in Serie A is unquestionable, it’s in Europe where Juve have fallen short & their incapability of delivering a Champions League triumph their downfall. Champions League final appearances in 2015 & 2017, losing to Barcelona & the all-conquering Real Madrid respectively, a slight stain left on the Old Lady’s European efforts but domestically they have been untouchable & that may just continue into the next decade. – Tommy

5. 18/19 Manchester City

In Pep Guardiola’s 3rd season at the club, Manchester City beat out rivals Liverpool in a close race for the Premier League Title. In addition to that, they won the League and FA Cups, becoming the first English men’s team to win the domestic Treble with a Community Shield to boot. Their European campaigns weren’t nearly as prosperous but a quarterfinal isn’t necessarily laughable. This may well be one of the best Prem teams ever.-  Zack

4. 10-12 Spain

Spain were the dominant force in International Soccer at the end of the previous decade & that dominance continued into the start of this one. Their proudest moment coming at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa beating the Netherlands 1-0 after extra-time – Iniesta notching the winner to seal history. A golden era for Spanish football, stars from both Real Madrid & Barcelona making up one of the greatest International teams we are likely to ever see – Casillas, Ramos, Piqué, Xavi, Iniesta, and David Villa to name a few. – Tommy

3. 15-18 Real Madrid

History will remember this Madrid squad fondly as being the first team to win 3 Champions Leagues in a row. A remarkable achievement, with so many great teams through the years falling short of the highly targeted three-in-a-row. Some might say it was a reflection of the standard other clubs were at during this period, but nobody can take away the sheer class of players such as Ronaldo, Marcelo, Modrić, Ramos, & Kroos to name a few. Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane achieved so much as a player, he cemented his place in the history books as a manager also. – Tommy

2. 12/13 Bayern Munich

Bayern have always been one of the top clubs in Europe but their 2012/13 campaign was something else. They amassed 4 trophies including the Champions League (they crushed Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semis) and the Bundesliga title which they were awarded with 6 matches to play. The lineup was incredible: Mario Gómez, Arjen Robben, and Franck Ribéry combined for 50 goals with players like Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller, Jérôme Boateng, David Alaba, and Manuel Neuer worked alongside them. – Zack

1. 10/11 Barcelona

“The likes of which we may never see again” is a phrase that we often throw around thoughtlessly, but for a club like Barcelona earlier this decade, it might be true. After Barcelona won the Champions League this season, even Alex Ferguson had to admit that he was marvelled with their passing and sheer talent. The midfield was filled by the Spanish Maestros Xavi, Busquets, and Iniesta, the defense laden with Alves, Piqué, Puyol, and Abidal. It seems like you could throw anyone up front and win a title with that back 7, but instead they had a trio of absolute assassins in Pedro, David Villa, and Lionel Messi. We truly may never see a more dominant team. – Zack

Best Games (No particular order)

Barcelona v Inter 2010 Champions League Semi Final 2nd Leg

A spectacle at the Nou Camp that that lives long in the memory of all soccer fans. Mourinho’s Inter Milan, going into the 2nd leg tie of their Champions League semi- final against Guardiola’s Barca ahead 3-1 on aggregate, registered a defensive masterclass. A late goal by Gerard Piqué brought some hope to the Catalan faithful but Inter weren’t to be denied and went through to the Champions League final that season, beating Bayern Munich 2-0 with a brace from Diego Milito to seal a memorable treble for Mourinho and Inter. Inter’s resilience against a star-studded Barca team made it one of the most famous spectacles seen in football this decade. – Tommy

Germany v Brazil 2014 World Cup Brazil Semi Final

There were high hopes for Brazil at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Being the host nation, the 5-time champions were heavily tipped to pull off another triumph at the biggest football stage of them all until Germany came along in the semi-final. What was to occur within those 90 minutes left a terrible stain on Brazilian football, a 7-1 thumping to the hands of the eventual winners. The game wasn’t 30 minutes old and it was 5-0 to Germany – Brazilian hopes dashed in an instant. For a proud footballing nation, a humiliating defeat on the biggest stage of them all left sour taste across Brazil and shocked fans all over the world. – Tommy

Barcelona v PSG 2016/17 Champions League Last 16 2nd Leg

The mountain of all mountains to climb for Barcelona; 4-0 down after their 1st leg tie in Paris. How could Barcelona claw this one back? No team had overturned a 4-0 deficit in the Champions League going into that famous night at the Nou Camp, but when Barca went 3-0 up with goals from Luis Suárez, a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, and a Messi penalty in the 50th minute, somehow there was hope. Edinson Cavani seemed to end the dream on 61 minutes when he slotted home to make it 5-3 on aggregate to the French side. However, Barca weren’t done yet. What was to occur between the 88th– 90+5 minute was nothing short of awesome. A brace from Neymar, one penalty, meant the tie was level 5-5 on aggregate going into the dying moments with PSG going through on away goals until Sergi Roberto stepped up at the last minute to break PSG hearts – Barca winning 6-5 on aggregate. A football fairytale the likes we may never see again! – Tommy

Manchester City v Queens Park Rangers Premier League 2012 Matchday 38

Coming into Matchday 38, Manchester City were tied in points with crosstown rivals United for top of the Premier League, City ahead on goal differential. All that was needed was an equal or better result than the Red Devils. Rooney’s 20th minute goal gave United the victory at Sunderland, but nothing short of chaos ensued at the Etihad. Pablo Zabaleta beat the keeper for the first time that season to move up 1-0 in the 40th minute, the only goal of the first period. However a defensive mishap allowed Cissé to equalize early in the 2nd. A silly elbow from QPR’s Barton earned him red with Mike Dean, but that didn’t matter as Jamie Mackie took the lead for QPR in the 65th minute. Despite the stadium taking on the aura of a graveyard, Roberto Mancini’s men were not deterred. An inswinging corner from David Silva found the head of Edin Džeko in the first of five extra minutes brought the score back to equal. Then in the 94th minute, Sergio Agüero flicked a ball onto the feet of Mario Balotelli. As he slipped to the ground at the top of the box, “Super Mario” was able to push a last gasp ball into space for Agüero to hammer at goal, allowing Martin Tyler to make possibly the most chilling call in sports history. City were champions once again. – Zack

Tottenham v Ajax 2019 Champions League Semi Final

Spurs finest hour? It was an incredible run to the Champions League final for the North London club in 2019. Not a traditional European powerhouse, their rise in stature towards the end of the decade bringing huge joy & excitement to the Spurs fateful starved of success and overshadowed by the success of their near neighbours, Arsenal. Having almost been eliminated in the group stage earlier in the campaign, Spurs somehow overturned a 3-0 deficit in the closing stages of the 2nd leg tie at the Amsterdam Arena. It looked certain Ajax were going through when De Ligt & Ziyech extended the Dutch Giants lead until Lucas Moura notched a 2nd half hattrick to send Spurs through to the Champions League final on away goals. Lucas’ 3rd coming in the 6th minute of injury time – Ajax heartbroken! Although Pochettino’s men would go on to lose to fellow Premier League rivals Liverpool, the dramatic win in Amsterdam will go down in history as one of the club’s finest moments! – Tommy

Best Players

10. Robert Lewandowski

Few would argue against Robert Lewandowski being the best Polish player to ever grace a football pitch. His 61 goals for country are easily the most ever and his 312 goals since joining Dortmund in 2010 are ridiculous. What’s even more incredible is that the 31 year old is still going with 29 goals already this season. – Zack

9. Philipp Lahm

Germany’s leader throughout the decade, Lahm was flawless for both Bayern Munich & Germany. His crowning moment leading Germany to their 4th FIFA World Cup triumph in 2014 – also captaining Bayern Munich to Champions League glory in 2013 & winning 6 Bundesliga titles since 2010. Lahm retired from the game in 2017 at the age of 33. – Tommy

8. Dani Alves

A stalwart for Brazil & part of the all-conquering Barcelona in the early part of the decade, he played pivotal roles for Juventus & PSG also. Although a right-back, Alves’ greatest attributes were going forward. His attacking prowess a constant torn for left wingers & left backs. – Tommy

7. Xavi

Affectionately nicknamed La Computadora, Xavi finished his career in 2015 after achieving greatness. He may have been the best passer ever, and it helped that he played with the likes of Messi and Iniesta at Barcelona. He never stuffed stat sheets, but he was the key to both Barca and Spain’s success and titles. – Zack

6. Zlatan Ibrahimović

Zlatan is the greatest Swede to ever kick a football and his legacy is unshakeable. 277 goals this decade for club could undoubtedly be much higher had he stuck with Paris, but he is still one of the best of the decade. His grace, power, and unbelievable skill would leave defenders and jaws alike on the floor. – Zack

5. Sergio Ramos

Watching Ramos relieve attackers of the football is a religious experience. He’s a brute, a demon, and an unforgiving menace upon any forward who dared to challenge him. 57 goals in the decade is great for a centre back. Add 4 Champions League titles, 2 La Liga titles, and a World Cup and you can’t deny the greatness. – Zack

4. Sergio Agüero

Manchester City’s all time leading scorer, Sergio Agüero is the leading goalscorer in the Premier League that’s currently still playing, and 6th on the all time list. Having 4 Premier League titles, his finest moment in the Blue & White came on the last day of the 2011/12 season against QPR. City needing a win to clinch their first Premier League title, Aguero stepped up in the 95th minute to smash the back of the net & send City into delirium winning 3-2 & delivering City their first Premier League title. – Tommy

3. Andrés Iniesta

One of the greatest midfielders of this generation, another of Barca’s stalwarts. La Liga titles, Champions League medals, & a FIFA World Cup win in 2010 & Euro 2012 winner. Iniesta being the man who scored Spain’s goal in the FIFA World Cup in 2010 to deliver Spain’s World Cup and signify their dominance in World football. – Tommy

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is the best in the world to some. His 490 goals and 127 assists for club since 2010 and 77 goals for Portugal in the same span are massive numbers. 4 Champions League titles with Real Madrid and a Euro Championship over France have validated Ronaldo’s already transcendent career. – Zack

1. Lionel Messi

The greatest of all time? The greatest of this decade? It really does depend on your preference, the rivalry that has defined a decade of football – Messi vs Ronaldo. 7 La Liga titles, 2 Champions League wins, 5 FIFA Ballon d’Or wins, the likes we will probably never see again. The Barcelona talisman has been the leading light for Argentina & Barca for so many years now. One accolade that Messi cannot seem to get his hands on is a World Cup medal, falling short in 2010, 2014, and 2018. Nonetheless, Messi has been the greatest this decade and perhaps the greatest of all time, you decide! – Tommy

Best Moments (no particular order)

Sergio Agüero Goal v QPR to Win Premier League

We spoke about this one earlier, but it’s still one of the most remarkable moments in football history. Truly a last gasp shot at the title, Mario Balotelli flicked the ball into the perfect spot in the box, allowing Agüero to hammer it home for the Premier League title. What else was remarkable? That was Balotelli’s only assist during his time at Manchester City. – Zack

Sergi Roberto Goal v PSG to Cap Incredible Comeback

An inspirational comeback is one of the best stories sports has to offer no matter what or where you’re playing. In the 2017 Champions League Round of 16, PSG had jumped out to a seemingly insurmountable 4-0 lead over Barcelona. Barca needed help to even think of coming back to win, and they got just what they needed. Suárez opened the scoring in the 3rd minute and a Layvin Kurzawa OG and Messi penalty gave hope to the Catalan faithful, but a 62’ Cavani goal dampened spirits. In the final 10 minutes however, Neymar flipped the game on its head with a free kick and penalty. Barcelona, still down on away goals, needed an extra time miracle. Neymar saw an opening and with a lobbed ball gave Sergi Roberto an excellent opportunity to send Barca on to the quarterfinals. Roberto did so with a sliding kick to send Camp Nou into a frenzy. – Zack

Robbie Brady Goal v Italy to Advance in Euro 2016

Prior to the 2016 Euros, Ireland had only made two of the competitions (2012 and 1988) and only won a game in the 1988 version of the tournament. The Irishmen had certainly never advanced, but Robbie Brady was about to change that. A quick attack from Ireland left the ball on the feet of Wes Hoolahan in the 85th minute. Hoolahan put an inswinging cross into the box and onto the head of Robbie Brady to beat the Italians, secure advancement into the knockout rounds, and send the country into maniacal glee. – Zack

Divock Origi Goal v Barcelona in 2019 Champions League Semi Finals

Barcelona had taken the first leg 3-0 at Camp Nou, but Liverpool came storming back to tie things up 3-3 at Anfield. In the 79th minute, Trent Alexander-Arnold was taking a corner, began to walk off, but jumped back when he saw an opening arise. Barcelona was caught completely off guard and were punished as Origi put the cross away for 4-3 and a birth to the Champions League Final. – Zack

Lucas Moura Goal v Ajax in 2019 Champions League Semi Finals

Another comeback for the ages! It was the semifinals of the Champions League where Tottenham found themselves down 1-0 after a home loss. They reluctantly headed into the pit that is Johan Cruyff Arena, but put on a show that few would soon forget. Ajax quickly made the deficit 3-0 in the first half, but a 2nd half hat trick from Lucas Moura sent the Spurs to the finals, capped by one of the latest and most dramatic finishes you’ll ever see. – Zack

Gabigol Late Double to Win 2019 Copa Libertadores

We tune into the South American club championship for one of the most exciting finishes in history. River Plate seemed to have logged their 5th title as it was 1-0 in the waning moments, but Gabigol had something to say about that. Instead, the Inter loanee tapped home an equalizer in the 89th and fired home a winner in the 92nd. Gabigol was given red for mocking the referee in the 95th, but Flamengo had won their 2nd Copa Libertadores. – Zack

Mario Götze 2014 World Cup Winner

The 2014 World Cup Final was the perfect spot for Leo Messi to earn his coveted country trophy, but “Super Mario” Götze would have none of it. He came on late in regulation and in the 113th minute, he contained a beautiful Schürrle cross with his chest, turned, and blasted a volley past Sergio Romero, sending Germany to the promised land for the 4th time in history. – Zack

Igor Akinfeev Save v Spain in 2018 World Cup

It isn’t often that Russia can be an underdog considering they’re often the villain (an earned reputation), but we could all make an exception when they brought Spain to penalties in the Round of 16. Russia were up 4-3 on penalties and just needed a save or miss to win. Substitute Iago Aspas stepped up and fired to his left side. Igor Akinfeev guessed correctly but lept too far as the kick was very poor. Akinfeev adapted to use his trailing left foot to flick the ball wide of the net, sending the host nation into a maniacal frenzy. – Zack

Eder Goal v France to Win Euro 2016

Winning a major international tournament is the goal of any player, but it’s especially important for the greats. Ronaldo needed this victory to help solidify his legacy, but a knee injury forced him off in tears in the 25th minute. It didn’t seem like Portugal had the firepower to stop hosts France, but they did enough to force 0-0 extra time. In the 109th minute, substitute Eder dribbled to the middle of the field and shot on goal, notching in the lower left corner and winning the Euro for Portugal. – Zack

Lionel Messi 2017 El Clásico Winner

El Clásico is a blessing from above every year. It’s the biggest and best rivalry in football and 2017 wasn’t an exception. Barca and Real were tied at 2 in the 2nd minute of 2 of stoppage time, leaving only 30 seconds left in the match. That was no worry for Barca as they streaked down the pitch on a counter attack. A 10 man Madrid was outnumbered on the attack and a few quick passes from Gomes and Alba set up Messi in the box. Messi slotted it home and celebrated in iconic fashion, showing all the Bernabeu exactly who their master was that day, all to the squealing delight of Ray Hudson. – Zack

Andrea Pirlo Panenka Penalty in Euro 2012

The audacity from the Italian Maestro. Italy’s quarter final with England went to penalties at Euro 2012. All eyes around the world watching Pirlo step up to take his penalty against England’s Joe Hart – the pressure, the stakes, the tension, the finish – a beautiful chipped effort sailing past a hapless Joe Hart – Italy would go on to progress. – Tommy

Didier Drogba Goal v Bayern in 2012 Champions League Final

Chelsea’s finest hour coming from their finest striker of that era. Didier Drogba stepped up with a powering header to to level the game in the 88th minute. It looked as if Bayern had secured a famous win in their home stadium but Drogba had other ideas. After Drogba’s thundering equaliser, Chelsea went on to win their first Champions League title winning 4-3 on penalties in front of the Bayern faithful at the Allianz Arena. – Tommy

Andrés Iniesta 2010 World Cup Winner

In the 26th minute of 30 in extra time, Span and the Netherlands were destined for a 0-0 draw that would send things to penalties, a place that no team wasn’t destiny to balance. A somewhat clumsy attack found Torres on the left flank. His cross was knocked onto the feet of Cesc Fábregas who found an open Iniesta who volleyed into the far side of the net. The goal earned Spain their first World Cup in history and cemented the legend that is Andrés Iniesta. – Zack

Troy Deeney Championship Semi Final Winner vs Leicester

This was just one of the best sequences in football history. Leicester and Watford were in the Championship semi finals to return to the Premier League. Leicester won the first leg 1-0 and the score made it tied at 2-1, Leicester ready to move on with away goals. Anthony Knockaert had a penalty to solidify the win in the 97th minute. Manuel Almunia saved the penalty as well as the follow up, spurring a counter. Fernando Forestieri flung a long cross into the box that drew the keeper and found its way to the head of Jonathan Hogg who set up Troy Deeney for a screamer into the back of the net. The Watford fans stormed the pitch as the players celebrated with them. – Zack

Iceland Best England in Euro 2016

Iceland are a land of less than 350,000 people and England are a land larger than 55 million, but that was of no concern of the Icelanders in Euro 2016. Iceland had never played in a major tournament, but after going down quickly to start the game, they responded with a goal of their own that kept things level for only moments. In the 18th minute, Kolbeinn Sigþórsson scored a 2nd that was enough to hold off the English juggernauts. The scene after the final whistle shows just how much this meant to the small nation, 98% of whom were watching the game. Mind you, this wasn’t to win the trophy, this was just to move on to the quarterfinals. – Zack

Biggest Accomplishments (No particular order)

Leicester City Wins 2015/16 Premier League

In my opinion, one of the greatest shocks in sports history. More likely to be relegated that season, Claudio Ranieri and his Leicester team somehow managed to pull off the impossible. With Man City, Chelsea, and Spurs all enriched with world class talent, it was Leicester City who stole the show with Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater, N’golo Kante to name a few that spearheaded Leicester’s fairytale win. Lead by the back from Wes Morgan, Leicester were simply unstoppable & Ranieri’s tactical literacy ensuring Leicester’s finest hour and one of the greatest footballing stories ever witnessed. – Tommy

Madrid’s 3 in a Row Champions League Wins

Winning a Champions League title is no easy thing; some legendary clubs have never claimed the cup. Despite the challenges Real Madrid went on to win the League three times in a row from 2016-2018. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Sergio Ramos helped lead Los Blancos to the prestigious titles. What’s even more impressive is that it could have been 5 in a row if not for a strong Juventus club in 2015. Madrid transcended greatness with these international accomplishments. – Zack

Juventus’s Run of Serie A Titles

Since the historic Milanese Treble season (see below) only one team has won Serie A. Juventus. The past 8 seasons have all been taken by the Turin club, and to accentuate their greatness, that haven’t had the top scorer on their team in all those years. Fending off Napoli, Roma, Lazio, and Milan are never easy tasks, but the sheer talent that Juve have accumulated over the years has been nothing short of astronomical. – Zack

Inter Milan Treble

After placing 3rd in Serie A in the past two seasons, Inter seemed to be fed up with their lack of winning. Diego Milito led the team with 30 goals in all competition, 22 of which came in Serie A, on their way to the Treble. Roma and Milan were topped in the League, Roma was beaten 1-0 in Coppa Italia, and Bayern were beaten 2-0 for the Champions League title. Inter were the last hero for Italy as Juve have played the villains ever since. – Zack

Manchester City Domestic Treble

The 2018/19 Manchester City squad became the first ever English men’s side to win the domestic treble. First City beat Chelsea in the League Cup on penalties in February. Then Guardiola’s team beat Brighton on Matchday 38 to secure the league over rivals Liverpool. The Citizens crushed Watford less than a week later to solidify what no other club had ever accomplished: win the English Men’s Domestic Treble. – Zack

All-Decade Team

Tommy’s Team

Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer

Right Back: Dani Alves

Centre Back: Sergio Ramos

Centre Back: Giorgio Chiellini 

Left Back: Marcelo

Right Midfield: Arjen Robben

Centre Midfield: Andrés Iniesta

Centre Midfield: Luka Modrić

Left Midfield: Neymar

Forward: Lionel Messi

Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo

Zack’s Team

Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer

Right Back: Dani Alves

Centre Back: Sergio Ramos

Centre Back: Raphaël Varane

Left Back: Marcelo

Right Midfield: Arjen Robben

Centre Midfield: Xavi

Left Midfield: Andrés Iniesta

Right Winger: Lionel Messi

Striker: Robert Lewandowski

Left Winger: Cristiano Ronaldo

Honorable Mention: Buffon, Neymar

Most of the choices were clear for me to make. Neuer was clearly the best keeper of the decade at Bayern and Germany with Buffon as a close second in his waning years. The Brazilian duo of Alves and Marcelo are the literal representation of the demon and angel on your shoulders and were the clear choices for full back. Ramos was the most dominant centre back of his era and I could literally watch him tackle all day. Varane was a tough choice as Chiellini and Pique both vied for a spot, but the 4 Champions League titles and World Cup put Varane over the edge.

The midfield was cluttered with stars, but only 4 were serious contenders for me. Robben, simply put, may be the best right mid ever, scoring trademark goal after goal from the right side of the box. Xavi was one of the best creators the world has ever seen and his production was only matched by the player on his left, Andrés Iniesta. Iniesta, affectionately and justly nicknamed “Illusionista” by Ray Hudson, was one of the best passers and possibly the best dribbling escape artist the world has been graced with. Neymar was close but injuries limited his mercurial production.

The attackers were fairly straightforward. Messi and Ronaldo were shoe ins and the only appropriate striker for the 4-3-3 was hitman Robert Lewandowski. The trio have scored 1,497 goals since the turn of the decade for club and country combined. There isn’t much more that needs to be said. – Zack

Best Goals (No particular order)

Olivier Giroud v Crystal Palace; 2017

There are few better ways to break into the new year than with a smashing goal and that’s just what Giroud gifted the footballing world with in 2017. A slightly late cross from Alexis Sánchez made for a beautiful scorpion goal off the heel of the French striker with a great celebration to boot. – Zack

Cristiano Ronaldo v Juventus; 2018

This goal was the fruit of Ronaldo’s labor as the attack started by his effort to push the ball into the scoring area. A cross at the top of the box was saved by the Juventus keeper, but Dani Carvajal collected outside the box. A few dribbles later he lofted a cross and Ronaldo took the opportunity to stun the Turin crowd with a beautiful bicycle kick. – Zack

Lionel Messi v Bayern Munich; 2015

We’ve seen hundreds of beautiful goals by Leo Messi, but this decade provided one that many would put top 10 in his career. The Argintinean took a through ball and made a move that dropped Jérôme Boateng much like a basketball player would drop his defender. He then chipped over Manuel Neuer to leave the Bayern defense in just as much awe as we were in. – Zack

Zlatan Ibrahimović v England; 2012

International friendlies are often overlooked, but one moment that cannot be forgotten was provided by an incredible bicycle kick from the mythical Zlatan. Joe Hart’s header did not evacuate the ball well enough as Ibra turned and swiftly popped the ball into the net with a beautiful leaping goal, his 4th on the night. – Zack

Wayne Rooney v Manchester City; 2011

The Manchester Derby is one of the more anticipated football matches of the year as the teams are perennial contenders. The 2011 season’s United fixture didn’t disappoint as the score was 1-1 after goals from Nani and Edin Džeko. The stage was set for Rooney who used a Nani cross to further his cult legend status with a thrilling overhead strike. – Zack

Robin van Persie vs Spain; 2014

One of the first matches of the 2014 World Cup was a highly anticipated rematch of the previous edition’s final: Spain v the Netherlands. Spain took an early 1-0 lead, but the Dutch refused to see that scoreline again. A long cross from Daley Blind found its way onto the head of a diving Robin van Persie, popping the ball over the head of the keeper to start a 5-1 romp. – Zack

Mario Mandžukić v Real Madrid; 2017

Losing a Champions League Final is never easy to swallow, but scoring an unbelievable goal can help. The Croation handled a pass from Giorgio Chiellini and set himself up for one of the better bicycle kicks we’ve seen this decade. Juventus may have lost, but the viewers certainly won. – Zack

James Rodríguez v Uruguay; 2014

Colombia was playing Uruguay in the 2014 World Cup and it was one of the more anticipated matches considering the South American location. James handled a short pass with his chest, but what happened next was nothing short of spectacular. With the ball still in the air James turned and shot from 30 yards straight out. The ball was untouchable as it bounced off the bottom of the crossbar and in. – Zack

Jamie Vardy v Liverpool; 2016

Jamie Vardy put home an absolute stunner volley over the head of Simon Mignolet that seemed to make Leicester’s title run not only possible, but inevitable. The long ball from Riyad Mahrez took a single bounce before the flamboyant Leicester talisman blasted the ball into the back of the Reds’ net. – Zack

Carlos Tevez v Parma; 2014

On November 9th, 2014 Carlos Tevez made a magical run from one end of the pitch to the other in the middle of an otherwise normal 7-0 beating of Parma. What made this run special was the sheer power and speed that Tevez displayed, breaking a neck hold, singeing a pair of defenders, and leaving the keeper flat-footed. – Zack

Most Emotional Moments (No particular order)

Arséne Wenger’s/Sir Alex Ferguson’s/Andrés Iniesta’s Final Games

Two legendary managers and a legendary player all retired from their direct roles this decade and their absences can be felt. Wenger’s Arsenal and Ferguson’s Manchester United are in low points and Spain has not been the same without Iniesta. They are all missed and it was impossible to hold onto your tears for their last games no matter what club you back. – Zack

Chapecoense Crash

On to more serious topics that are bigger than football, on November 28th, 2016, LaMia Flight 2933 was carrying football players and coaches of Chapecoense and journalists when it crashed near Medellín. 71 of 77 on board were killed in the crash due to gross negligence on the part of the airline. The Brazilian club was on the way to play for Copa Sudamericana Finals when the disaster shook not only the footballing community, but the world as well. – Zack

Death of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

The death of Srivaddhanaprabha could have been overlooked by those not paying close enough attention, but the Leicester owner’s affect on the club and world were touching, personal, and outstanding. Shortly after his helicopter took off from King Power Stadium on October 27, 2018, it crashed and killed all four aboard. He was a genuinely good man who took time for the common fan and helped lead Leicester to their first League Title. – Zack

Death of Emiliano Sala

Emiliano Sala had just been bought for a record fee from Nantes by Cardiff City and had completed his physical when he flew back to Nantes to say goodbye to his teammates and collect his belongings. On the return flight to the United Kingdom on the 21st of January, 2019, the aircraft crashed into the English Channel. His body was recovered on the 7th of February, subsequently causing Nantes to retire his number 9 kit. – Zack

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