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Balotelli, Payet, David Luiz: Who makes footballs most entertaining XI?

GiveMeSport Football

For most players, the primary objective of playing football is to win. For a select few, however, the art of entertaining takes precedence. 

Indeed, some individuals consider putting on a show for the crowd almost customary, much to the delight of those watching. 

When it comes to the discussion of the most iconic football entertainers, there is often incandescent chatter online and a plethora of names are loosely thrown into the mix. 

Of course, some of the game’s greatest-ever players are memorable entertainers in their own right. But we’re not talking about your Rooneys, your Ronaldos or your Ronaldinhos

Instead, we’re more concerned with remembering those players who weren’t necessarily the most successful or consistent, but are nonetheless cult heroes in one way or another. 

In light of this, we at GiveMeSport have devised our own team of entertainers, complete with substitutes as well. 

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The most ‘entertaining’ XI of all time 

This will likely come as no surprise, but given this is the most entertaining XI ever, we’re not worrying too much about defensive stability. 

Granted, we’ve made sure to include some defenders and a goalkeeper as any team would have, but as will soon become clear, our 3-5-2 formation is all-out attack and non-stop vibes. 

In terms of how we’re defining ‘entertaining’, we’re keeping things quite broad. Whether it’s a player renowned for their outrageous skill moves, barmy persona or simply one unforgettable moment, we’re covering all bases with this one. 

It’s also worth noting that we’ve included a few female players in the squad. Women’s football has produced some incredibly entertaining players over the years, and if you’re not already familiar with them, then get to know them.

While we hope you’ll agree with the majority of our selections, although we’re aware that there have been a plethora of players the streets won’t forget, and so it’s inevitable there will be some names that don’t quite make the cut.  Anyway, it’s about time we get into this.

Starting XI

  • GK: René Higuita

Nicknamed ‘El Loco’ (The Madman), Colombia’s Higuita was renowned for his high-risk sweeper-keeper style.

Famous for his curly hair and rampaging runs off his goal-line, his scorpion-kick against England remains one of the most iconic saves ever.

VIDEO: Rene Higuita’s scorpion-kick save vs England

  • CB: Wendie Renard 

Given she’s a centre-back, Renard has a goal record to match some of the game’s greatest-ever forwards.

For reference, the French captain has scored more than 140 goals for Lyon and finished with more than double figures in seven seasons.

Just imagine if you stuck her up top.

  • CB: Alex

Brazilians are generally renowned for their flair but Alex is best remembered for his power — hence his nickname ‘The Tank.’

The former Chelsea, PSG and AC Milan star loved a free-kick back in the day — and when he connected properly, keepers stood absolutely no chance.

His thunderbolt against Liverpool in the Champions League is still etched in our memory.

At times, Luiz was world class — yet, on other occasions, he was an absolute liability.

Like Alex, he scored some magnificent free-kicks in his time and was famous for his marauding runs forward.

Chelsea liked him so much they signed him twice — costing the club more than £50 million in total.

VIDEO: David Luiz’s amazing free-kick vs Colombia

  • CM: Papa Bouba Diop

Sometimes referred to as ‘The Wardrobe’, Bouba Diop was the hero of the Senegal team that caused a shock upset against France at the 2002 World Cup.

At six foot and five inches, Paul Scholes once described him as the most ‘awkward’ player he’d faced — we prefer the term ‘entertaining.’

For many, Taarabt is the ultimate streets won’t forget player.

The Moroccan produced one of the single greatest individual seasons in Championship history back in 2010/11 during his time with QPR.

Unfortunately, he never translated this form to the Premier League, but has enjoyed success at AC Milan, Benfica and Genoa.

Payet was only in the Premier League for one and a half seasons but his highlight reel is one of the best you’ll ever see.

From his free-kick against Crystal Palace, to his majestic solo run against Middlesborough, the Frenchman will forever be remembered in West Ham folklore.

He also starred at Euro 2016 for France and earned a nomination for the Ballon d’Or that year — not bad going.

VIDEO: Dimitri Payet’s wonder strike vs Crystal Palace

To Newcastle fans, Ben Arfa is one of the most entertaining players to ever grace St. James Park, but to most neutrals, he is better known as a wasted talent.

His four years in the Toon saw him score just 12 league goals, though some of them were seriously special.

Ben Arfa did enjoy a remarkable spell at Nice, which led to PSG signing the Frenchman, though he failed to make an impact in Paris.

VIDEO: Hatem Ben Arfa’s solo goal against Bolton

  • RM: Jay-Jay Okocha

“So good that they named him twice,” was the phrase immortalised by Bolton fans during Okocha’s stint with the club.

The Nigerian was unquestionably one of the most skilful stars to play in the Premier League and is perhaps the most loved player in Wanderer’s history — even if he was inconsistent at times.

  • ST: Marta

We’re breaking our own rules with this one a bit as Marta is often regarded as one of the greatest female players ever. Yet, she is simply too entertaining to ignore.

The Brazilian is best known for her flair, quick feet, and exceptional skill on the ball, which has led to comparisons with the likes of Pele, Ronaldinho and Romario.

Marta playing for Brazil vs EnglandMIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 05: Marta of Brazil is seen during the International friendly match between England and Brazil at Riverside Stadium on October 05, 2019 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

This one was always going to be obvious.

Whether it was his outlandish celebrations, failed attempts to showboat or nonchalant finishes, Balotelli was box-office entertainment.

To be fair to the Italian, he has also won three Serie A titles, the Premier League and is a former winner of the European Golden Boy award.

Most entertaining XI in football history

Substitutes

  • Bruce Grobbelaar

The former Liverpool keeper was an absolute nutter and best known for his gymnastic-like athletic ability and flamboyant style of play.

  • Maynor Figueroa 

Figueroa became a cult hero at Wigan and his unbelievable strike from his own half against Stoke in 2009 is one of the greatest Prem goals ever scored.

  • Jill Scott 

Scott is a Lionesses legend and her infectious personality shone through in every game. Forget Chloe Kelly’s goal, Scott hurling expletives at Germany’s Sydney Lohmann was just as iconic.

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