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Featured Image: PA
Having spent the '90s and a good portion of the early '00s sashaying his way around the midfields of continental Europe, Manuel Rui Costa knows a thing or two about what makes a great team tick and it should come as no surprise that the Portuguese play making heartthrob has put together one of the most luxurious perfect XIs of all time.
Taking part in Sky Sports' #One2Eleven series, the former Benfica, Fiorentina and AC Milan man selected a team of icons that he shared a pitch with during his glittering career.
Given that Rui Costa was a part of some of the most entertaining teams of his generation, his XI is littered with some of the finest footballers to grace a pitch in the past 25 years, with a Milan heavy backline featuring Cafu, Nesta and Maldini taking care of anything that gets past a midfield of Figo, Pirlo, Sousa and Ronaldo, who are sitting just behind Kaka and, in front of him, the great 'Batigol', Gabriel Batistuta.
Rui Costa, capped 94 times by his country, singles out his 'boy' Andrea Pirlo for extra special praise, hailing the Italian metronome as the most technically gifted player he's ever played alongside.
"I have to pick my boy Pirlo, who actually started out in football as a number 10, in my position. He went to Milan and played as a second number 10 and ended up the best number six in the world. He was possibly the most technically gifted player I ever played alongside."
"The most technically gifted player I have ever played alongside" - Manuel Rui Costa (Image: PA)
Speaking of his relationship with Batistuta from their time together in Florence, Rui Costa told Sky Sports, "I'm going to choose the player I played the most with, who I built the strongest bond with - Batistuta. We're lifelong friends as well, we had a great relationship on and off the pitch.
"Out of all the strikers I played with, he had the best knack of scoring goals. He could score a goal from anywhere. Free-kicks headers, penalties, from outside the area, with his back, shoulder and heel, he scored goals in so many different ways. We weren't the best team in Italy, but we had a mission at Fiorentina to have the best attack."
And who could forget this photo that their time at Fiorentina produced? Like a press shot straight from a '90s pop duo's back catalogue:
If you're keeping count, the likes of Pippo Inzaghi, Andriy Shevchenko, Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf, Hernan Crespo, Dida and Christian Vieri have all failed to make the grade in the Champions League winning playmaker's XI. Not a bad subs bench, though.
(H/T Sky Sports)
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