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Monday, 16 June 2014

image for The greatest World Cup footballers of all time "Wee Eck" McSmith is hiding in this picture somewhere - can you spot him?

To celebrate the World Cup in Brazil, we take a look back at some of the all time greats of football. Those players who have stood out from the crowd and made a real impact on the game. Here are TheSpoof's five best World Cup footballers of all time.

5. "Wee Eck" McSmith
The diminutive Scottish centre forward was considered the best footballer in the world back in 1974, in the days when Scotland could actually manage to qualify for the tournament. "Wee Eck" was so short that he could run through the legs of other players. It was a skill he used to great advantage in Scotland's stunning 1-0 defeat of Costa Rica when he ran through the legs of the goalkeeper with the ball looking like it was tied to his feet.

4. Andrej Bashtenko
Bashtenko gained a fearsome reputation in the 1950s as a defender for Russian side Tank Factory Omsk. He earned himself the nickname "The Shin-Smasher" for his often brutal but effective tackles. On a number of occasions he tackled so hard that he actually physically removed the feet of the people he was tackling, a situation which led to many a red card. Most notorious of all was a qualifying match for the 1954 World Cup against Bulgaria, when he went feet first into promising young Bulgarian striker Sasho Krasimir and cut his left foot clean off. However, he also made contact with the ball, meaning it was only a yellow card offence. Russia went on to win the game 3-0.

3. Ed (and Ted) van Goort
Ed van Goort was a brilliant goalkeeper for the Netherlands and club side Feyenoord. Nicknamed "The Octopus", he was actually a pair of Siamese twins. FIFA regulations banned the use of conjoined twins in 1981, but the Octopus still made a number of memorable appearances in the 1978 World Cup. Disability groups have since successfully campaigned for a special World Cup for conjoined twins, forming the well-known alternative football organisation STIFA.

2. Thwackinho
The famous Brazilian Thwackinho was a brilliant shot with his right foot. His left foot was not so impressive, but that didn't matter. He had exercised his right leg so much that it was twice the size of his other leg, which gave him a rather ungainly limp. Nevertheless, he was able to shoot at goal from anywhere on the pitch, and famously scored a goal against England in a 1962 match, shooting from near his own team's penalty area with a ridiculously powerful shot that powered its way into the opposite goal, a full 100 yards away.

1. Gino "Il Commandante" Gello
Arguably the greatest footballer of all time, Gello helped lead Italy to World Cup glory in 1982. He would roam the midfield, directing the other players, but astonishingly he never actually touched the ball himself. Throughout the entire 1982 World Cup finals, he only touched the ball once, and that was apparently by accident. The rest of the time, he roamed the centre of the pitch, barking orders at fellow players, tirelessly running back and forth. A true footballing genius.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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