x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

A Brazilian who is full of beans in our all-time XI

With nine days to go until kick off, we pick our all-time XI and our pick for the right-back is...

The most experienced player in the history of the most successful World Cup nation, Cafu, the Brazilian right-back, simply cannot be overlooked for this fantasy XI. First seen in the distinctive yellow and blue of his country 20 years ago, as the team was rebuilt in the aftermath of a disappointing Italia '90 campaign, this artful defender went on to earn a staggering total of 143 caps, 21 of those for appearances at the finals.

Indeed Cafu is one of a handful of players who have been involved in the decisive stages of four World Cups and he played in three finals in a row, 1994, 1998 and 2002 - winning two and losing the middle one to France, the hosts. After captaining the team in 2006, he considered trying to extend his splendid career to take in the trip to South Africa, but age finally caught up with him and he has not been seen in serious competitive action since scoring in his last game for AC Milan two years ago.

Cafu spent the second of his two productive decades in Italy, having served Roma with distinction for six years before moving to the San Siro in 2003. His early club days were spent in his homeland with Sao Paolo and Juventude and he went back there to play for Palmeiras after a brief first attempt to flourish in Europe had been relatively undistinguished at the Spanish club Real Zaragoza. @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae