Remembering The Star-Studded English League XI vs Italian League XI Game In 1991
For a period of time, the best players in the English top flight and the cream of the crop in the Italian league would play a regular fixture that took place in 1960, 1961, 1962.
Legendary Welshman John Charles played for the Italian side in the first game while England 1966 heroes Bobby Moore, Jimmy Greaves and Bobby Charlton all played in the fixture at some stage.
Games were played in Milan, Manchester, London and Milan again in a four-year period, the game in 1962 attracting 50,000 fans at Old Trafford.
But undoubtedly the most star-studded affair happened in 1991 in Napoli's San Paolo with an attendance of 18,000.
Less fans turned out, but more stars turned up.
Ian Rush, David Seaman, John Barnes, Dean Saunders, Neville Southall and Lee Dixon were all involved for the visitors. The hosts' squad included Roma legend Aldair, Lothar Matthäus, Paolo Di Canio, Diego Simeone and Marco van Basten.
As for the managers, Lawrence McMenemy was in the visitors dugout, opposite Albertino Bigon, who had won the domestic double with Napoli a season earlier.
It was the Calcio XI who emerged victorious with a 3-0 win, with goals coming from Milan's Marco van Basten, Napoli's Brazilian Careca and current Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone, who was playing for Pisa at the time.
Here are the highlights from the game:
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The Italian XI were far superior in all senses in this instance. It might have been a different story had David Platt, Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker and the likes played in Naples. The Football League XI certainly had plenty of talent in the form of Steve McMahon, Steve Bull, Michael Thomas and Steve Nicol, but the Italian team were able to call upon the mercurial talents of Matthäus and van Basten in the first half and then take them off in place of Simeone and Di Canio at half-time - two dreamy substitutions if you asked me.
The teams in full:
Italian League XI: G.Galli (Taffarel), Garzja, Aldair (Branco), C.Pin, Benedetti, Jozic (Minotti), A.Bianchi (Lentini), Mychajlyčenko, Careca, Matthäus (Simeone), Van Basten (Di Canio).
Football League XI: Southall (Seaman), Dixon, Nicol, Thomas (Bowen), I.Wright, Hysen (Curle), Limpar (Saunders), McMahon, Rush (Bull), David, Barnes.
Unfortunately, to this day that is the last time a game has been played between the Italian League XI and the Football League XI but if the big stars playing in both leagues today could be recruited, along with two of the best managers, how much of an attractive fixture that would be? I'm definitely in favour
For now, we'll just enjoy this lovely bit of nostalgia and remember the time Serie A's superstars played some of the best players playing in England.
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