thumbnail Hello,

We sent our scouts far and wide to report back with the best 15 they could from football's top leagues in order to assemble our Goal All-Stars in time for the All-Ireland Final

By Peter Staunton

MAYO 4 SAM. Rarely have three words had such a wide-reaching and confusing impact.

Bewildered celebrities the world over have had the green and red thrust into their hands by the frenzied Mayo faithful in the last few weeks as they attempt to win the the crucial PR battle against the Dubs. The likes of Screech from Saved by the Bell and Alf Stewart have become unwitting conduits for Mayo hysteria as they channel positive vibes ahead of the big one.

You need no reminding, of course, that it's All-Ireland final weekend. It's the game that's captured the imagination and we at Goal, with Dubs and Mayomen among us, are no less excited than the public at large.

Then we got to thinking. Would any footballers manage to hold their own in the GAA?

We know that they can't exactly take a good jostle, never mind a stamp on the neck, but surely there must be some transferrable skills in there that make some of them suited to the amateur game?

So we had a look. What we tried to do is come up with a crossover 15 of Goal All-Stars composed of football players that possess the physical and technical attributes to help them in the Championship or even the Allianz League on one of those morbid, dark afternoons that make you shiver just thinking about them.

And here it is.

In goal, we went for Pepe Reina. The resident Spain squad cut-up could get the ball rolling with short passes as well as the big kick-out. Popular among the Liverpool fans in Croke Park for the day.

Branislav Ivanovic has more muscle than Jean Claude van Damme hosting a mollusc convention. If his Fantasy Football points are anything to go by, a few scores and assists would be provided as well as some rough-house defending at right corner-back.

There's something about Vincent Kompany's face that changes just before he clatters into someone. The wide eyes, the grimace, the bracing for impact. It's like he's going to his "happy place" when he sees a 50-50 tipping into his favour. It's a quality we could do with in the Goal All-Stars' defence. A shoo-in for the full-back position.

Javier Mascherano completes the full-backline. He would be dogged in the corner, winning his duels and getting dirty when needs be.

In front of him, the man who put Trapattoni out of his misery. We'll let jingoistic grudges pass and allow David Alaba out on the field for our All-Stars. He fits the left half-back role to perfection.

His Bayern Munich club-mate, Bastian Schweinsteiger, would slot in comfortably beside him. Has choked in a good few finals before finally winning one so perhaps would inspire Mayomen.

On the right, Dani Alves. The Brazilian is a ball of sometimes negative energy but has great distribution skills and an eye for a score. Would need to stop playing everything along the ground but we'd quickly get that fancy Barca stuff out of him.

In midfield, we're confident Yaya Toure would quietly dominate with his power and passing ability and imagine challenging for the high ball with Marouane Fellaini? The man is a walking elbow. You would not come back down without a bruise somewhere on your anatomy.

We've gone for Cristiano Ronaldo on the right in a multi-billion euro half-forward line. No stranger to the Mayo flag, of course, as they use it in Portugal too, he would skin any back you put in front of him and put scores on the board for fun. Would have to claim serious mileage to get near his €21 million Real Madrid salary.

Ron would be sharing the limelight with Gareth Bale, the Real team-mate currently following him around the Bernabeu like a first-year excitedly hanging around his Leaving Cert neighbour in the schoolyard. Has put plenty of frees over in his day so will be kicking 45s.

Snuggled in between them would be little Lionel Messi or the "Argentinian Gooch" as he's known in his homeland.

Up front is the big basking shark himself, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He's got that menacing combination of authority and artistry, like Kim Jong Il directing one of his own films.

To the left of him, some samba flair. "He's done for Santos what Ciaran McDonald did for Crossmolina," is how Pele described Neymar's impact at his former club and there can be no disputing that. The hair, the boots, the pulled-up socks, the number 11 tribute at Barca, there's no doubting that Neymar grew up idolising the Deel Rovers man and there isn't a corner-back in the country who wouldn't relish putting his shoulder in the cocksure Brazilian's mouth.

In the other corner, Luis Suarez. Has already attempted to cross codes once before, with impressive hand-skills on display at the 2010 World Cup. Since then he has taken his quest for public hatred into a new sphere with biting and alleged racism now added to his nuisance repertoire. We'd have to keep him away from Ivanovic, naturally.

So there you have our Goal All-Stars. We think it would be good enough to at least sneak in through the back door. Let us know if you think you can do any better.


Pepe Reina


Branislav Ivanovic

Vincent Kompany

Javier Mascherano


Dani Alves

Bastian Schweinsteiger

David Alaba


Yaya Toure

Marouane Fellaini


Cristiano Ronaldo

Lionel Messi

Gareth Bale


Luis Suarez

Zlatan Ibrahimovic