We asked ChatGPT for the greatest XI of all time: here's what it said

Brazilian legend Pele, of the greatest XI of all time as chosen by ChatGPT
(Image credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

ChatGPT, an AI model taking the internet by storm, seems to know everything – so we asked it for the greatest XI of all time.

Of course, there's no correct answer. Everyone has their own ideas and depending on when you were born, where you're from or even who you support, it's natural to subconscious favour some players over others.

So who does a robot think should make the GOAT XI? And why was there no room for that guy?

ChatGPT's greatest XI of all time: 1. Lev Yashin (GK)

Lev Yashin

Lev Yashin at the 1966 World Cup (Image credit: Getty)

Arguably the most influential, iconic goalkeeper of all time and the only custodian to have ever won the Ballon d'Or, it's not exactly controversial to select the Black Spider between the sticks. 

Lev Yashin is the classic option at No.1, as ChatGPT eschews a controversial modern choice of someone like Manuel Neuer, Gigi Buffon or even Iker Casillas. No complaints for us so far. 

2. Cafu (RB)


Cafu in action during the 1998 World Cup (Image credit: PA)

Cafu played three World Cup finals in a row, he's won two world titles and he's the very model of what you imagine when you picture a right-back. So two out of two: fair enough.

Dani Alves might have surpassed him, Philipp Lahm is a very different kind of argument for the position. But in terms of vibes, nostalgia and a glistening trophy cabinet at international level, there's no beating Il Pendolino in this position. 

3. Franco Baresi (CB)

Franco Baresi

Franco Baresi takes the CB spot (Image credit: PA)

Centre-back was always going to be a tricky decision but once again, ChatGPT goes classic.

Franco Baresi was the archetypal ball-playing centre-back and a stalwart in one of the most iconic club sides of all time at AC Milan. Sure, there are others that perhaps push him close but it's not exactly controversial to go with Baresi, is it?

4. Franz Beckenbauer (CB)

Greatest German players ever

Franz Beckenbauer winning the World Cup in 1974 (Image credit: Getty)

Franz Beckenbauer is widely regarded as one of the best defenders of all time and has the record to match. It would be strange if Beckenbauer wasn't included.

Der Kaiser is arguably his nation's greatest-ever football figure but he's just one of two Germans that appear in this line-up. We reckon Bobby Moore may have been closest of any English player to selection…

5. Paolo Maldini (LB)

Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini in action for AC Milan (Image credit: PA)

Paolo Maldini was a rock for decades, for club and country, starting out as a left-back before moving centrally. ChatGPT chooses his early career out at full-back, however, over his latter days in the centre.

It's a very strong backline defensively, with the more attacking likes of Roberto Carlos, Ashley Cole and Giacinto Facchetti all omitted from selection. Maldini's a good choice in our books, mind. 

6. Lothar Matthaus (DM)

Lothar Matthaus

Lothar Matthaus gets in this team (Image credit: Getty)

Lothar Matthaus is a legend who has played more World Cup games than anyone else and whose career at the top is almost unrivalled. He's got into this line-up on longevity, surely.

It's an interesting pick, however, because it suggests that ChatGPT specifically wanted a defensive midfielder for this formation, rather than crowbarring more attacking players into a 4-2-3-1 or simply ignoring skillsets for big names. This AI clearly has never studied Garth Crooks' Team of the Week…

7. Xavi (CM)


Xavi in action for Barcelona (Image credit: Getty)

One of the most well-respected footballers of a generation, Xavi takes the spot in this team as the passing midfielder capable of dictating tempo and providing the link between attack and defence. 

ChatGPT reckons Xavi's better than Andres Iniesta, while some massive names miss out. You don't need us to tell you which ones: just think of a midfielder: any midfielder. 

8. Zinedine Zidane (CM)

Champions League

Zinedine Zidane netting in the 2002 Champions League final (Image credit: Getty)

We've had the defensive-minded midfielder and the tempo-setting No.8 – now here's the more attack-minded midfielder, in perhaps the most competitive spot in the team.

Zinedine Zidane was a man for the big moments and is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers who ever lived. At the expense of Diego Maradona in a 4-2-3-1, though? You decide. 

9. Lionel Messi (RW)

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi in action for PSG (Image credit: Getty Images)

We're somewhat surprised that Peter Beagrie isn't chosen on the right wing instead…

We jest, of course. Lionel Messi is an obvious pick, isn't he? Messi is the only player currently still active in Europe's top five leagues to get a pick. 

10. Cristiano Ronaldo (LW)

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo at the 2022 World Cup (Image credit: Getty Images)

You can't have one without the other, and so, Cristiano Ronaldo slots in at left wing for ChatGPT's GOAT XI.

But though some regard CR7 as the ultimate greatest, there must have been some legends who ran him close. Johan Cruyff? Ronaldinho? Garrincha?

11. Pele (ST)

Pele, legend of Brazil and Santos

Pele takes the striker spot in this team (Image credit: Alex Gotfryd/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Regarded as the greatest striker of all time by ChatGPT, Pele takes the final spot in this team ahead of Eusebio, Marco Van Basten, Alfredo Di Stefano, Ronaldo, Danny Welbeck and just about any other No.9 to ever have a profound impact on the game.

There's no arguing with that. Right?

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.