Spain’s all-time squad includes former Barcelona, Real Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna, Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao greats.
For so long Spain were football’s nearly men, routinely getting knocked out in the quarter-final and semi-final stage, barring their success at the 1964 European Championship’s. That was, of course, up until very recently, when Spain have become an established force on the international stage, winning a remarkable three consecutive major tournaments between 2008 and 2012.
Spain’s team over this period has been described as one of the greatest international teams ever assembled, and their trio of European Championship triumphs means they are joint with Germany as the tournaments most successful entrant. It should come as little surprise then that much of Spain’s squad for the Legends World Cup is made up of players who are either still playing or hung up their boots only in the last decade.
Below is Spain’s definite 15 man squad, plus their 8 reserves from which you choose which 3 join the initial 15 to create a final 18 man squad.
Spain have had several world class goalkeepers over the years, and it will be a tough battle for the number one shirt. One outstanding candidate though is Ricardo Zamora. Possibly the greatest pre-war goalkeeper, Zamora played for Real Madrid, Barcelona, Espanyol and Nice, winning 46 caps for Spain, where he featured in the 1934 World Cup and a historic win over England.
When it comes to achievement with the Spanish national team, no-one can beat Iker Casillas. Spain’s number one and captain for their three consecutive major tournament triumphs in 2008, 2010 and 2012, Casillas has won a record 167 caps for Spain. At club level, Casillas had 16 outstanding years at Real Madrid, where he won three Champions League trophies, and now plays for Porto.
The current Real Madrid and Spain captain, Sergio Ramos added yet another Champions League to his long list of honours last week. The 31-year-old is another who played in both Spain’s two Euro and one World Cup success. The right-back turned centre-back offers quality and versatility. The only question mark about Ramos is his discipline, having been sent off 22 times at Real Madrid, but with 142 caps for Spain and 15 trophies won with Los Blancos, it’s hard to question his trophy cabinet.
Fernando Hierro was a tremendous footballer, who started out as a centre-back but also played a lot of football in defensive midfield. Best known for his 14 years of service to Real Madrid, Hierro scored over 100 goals in 439 games for the Madridstas, winning 5 league titles and 3 Champions League’s. He was capped 89 times by Spain and made the all-star team at the 2002 World Cup.
Nicknamed ‘the Wall’ by Barcelona fans, Carles Puyol played in arguably Spain and Barcelona’s greatest ever teams. A born leader who provided a bit of bite to teams best remembered for their flair, creativity and ball retention, Puyol won exactly 100 caps for Spain and was a one-club man, making 593 appearances for Barcelona. The three-time Champions League winner was named in the UEFA Team of the Year six times.
Jose Antonio Camacho
Spain have had some good left-backs in recent times, such as Joan Capdevilla and Jordi Alba, but breaking the mould of recent players is Jose Antonio Camacho. The greatest Spanish full-back of all-time, Camacho spent the vast majority of his career at Real Madrid, where he won nine La Liga titles. Camacho was capped 81 times by Spain before retiring from international football aged 33, and currently manages the Gabon national team.
A former teammate of Ricardo Zamora’s, Jacinto Quincoces was one of the best defenders in Europe in the 1930’s. A centre-back, Quincoces spent 10 years at Deportivo Alaves and 12 years at Real Madrid, winning 25 caps for Spain. A strong and skilful defender who formed a formidable defence with both Spain and Real, the pre-war star won two La Liga titles and two Spanish Cups.
There can be some debate about who is the greatest Spanish footballer of all-time, but they are almost certainly a midfielder. Xavi could stake a serious claim to that title, the puppet-master of Barcelona and Spain’s dominance throughout much of the 2000’s and 2010’s. A world class playmaker, Xavi had an unerring ability to find space and always pick out a teammate with a pass. He won 133 caps and three international titles with Spain and made 767 appearances for Barcelona, winning 24 trophies, including four Champions League’s.
For more than a decade Xavi and Iniesta were dominating midfields across Europe. Iniesta’s ball retention skills are as good as any player on the planet. A very intelligent and complete footballer, Iniesta has played in holding midfield, attacking midfield and out on the wing. He scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final to give Spain their first World Cup title, and has won 30 trophies at Barcelona.
There aren’t many players who have won more La Liga and European Cup titles than Xavi and Iniesta, but Francisco Gento is one of them. The pacy left winger has won a record 12 La Liga’s and 6 European Cup’s, which is also a record. Having spent almost his entire career with Real Madrid, Gento also won 43 caps for Spain, helping them win their first major international trophy at the European Championship’s in 1964.
Spain’s second greatest ever winger Amancio Amaro played alongside Francisco Gento for nine years at Real Madrid and seven years for Spain. Despite being a winger, Amaro won the Pichichi Trophy as Spanish footballs top scorer twice, and scored a total of 173 goals in 344 games for Real Madrid and 11 goals from 42 caps for Spain. A key player for Spain when they won the Euros in 1964, Amaro came third in Ballon d’Or voting that year.
One of the two men who finished above Amancio Amaro in the 1964 Ballon d’Or voting was Luis Suarez, having already become the first Spaniard to win the prestigious award in 1960. Suarez finished in the top three of Ballon d’Or voting on four occasions, more than Zinedine Zidane, Eusebio and Alfredo di Stefano. A graceful attacking midfielder with exceptional vision, Suarez won two La Liga titles with Barcelona before having much success in Italy with Inter Milan and winning the European Championships with Spain in 1964.
Raul was unfortunate, in that his international career ended in 2006, two years before Spain began dominating the international game. Widely regarded as one of the greatest Spanish footballers of all-time, his goal scoring records looked mightily impressive until Messi and Ronaldo came along. Raul scored 323 goals in 741 games for Real Madrid and 44 goals in 102 games for Spain. One criticism of the forward would be his lack of goals when it really mattered for Spain, but he is still well worth a place in this team. Raul came second in 2001 Ballon d’Or voting and is the third highest scorer in the history of the Champions League
Athletic Bilbao have had some magnificent centre-forwards over the years, but Telmo Zarra is arguably the pick of the bunch. He scored 251 goals in 277 games for the Basque Country club, winning the Pichichi Trophy six times, more than any other player. Zarra won 20 caps for Spain, in which he scored 20 goals.
Spain may have won Euro 2012 without a recognised centre-forward, but they had two top class strikers in David Villa and Fernando Torres to call upon in 2008 and 2010. An intelligent forward with quick feet and a quick mind, Villa has scored 337 goals in 689 games at club level to date, winning league titles and reaching a Champions League final with both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Villa bagged 59 goals from 97 caps for Spain, retiring from international football in 2014.
1. Andoni Zubizarreta – Former Bilbao, Barcelona and Valencia goalkeeper – 126 caps
2. Gerard Pique – Former Manchester United and current Barcelona defender – 87 caps*
3. Jose Martinez Sanchez (AKA Pirri) – Former Real Madrid sweeper/midfielder – 41 caps
4. Pep Guardiola – Former Barcelona midfielder – 47 caps
5. Josep Samiter – Former Barcelona and Nice midfielder – 21 caps
6. Estanislao Basora – Former Barcelona winger – 22 caps
7. Isidro Langara – Former Real Oviedo and San Lorenzo striker – 12 caps
8. Rafael Moreno Aranzadi (AKA Pichichi) – Former Athletic Bilbao striker – 5 caps