Before the days of FIFA and PES (Pro Evolution Soccer) football games may have been simpler, but that did not mean they were less fun. Older games entranced fans through their quirkiness, ease of play and, above all else, replay-ability. Sitting right at the top of this pile was the Sensible Soccer series; in particular, Sensible World of Soccer, commonly known as SWOS.
The game was the brainchild of Jon Hare, who was kind enough to talk to Squawka recently, and his creation is widely acknowledged as one of the best football games of all time, if not the best. A group from MIT named the game as one of the ten most influential games of all time. Not just in terms of football or even sporting games – of all games.
This is clearly a huge honour and till this day, SWOS is still remembered fondly by those who whittled away hours on the game. Inspired by our chat with Jon, we decided to trawl through the game and a wonderful database created by Gareth Griffiths to try and work out the best XI on SWOS: a team that could beat all others.
The team lines up in a 4-2-1-3 formation which doesn’t lend itself to defending but with the back five in this team, we are more than confident. The players’ stats were split up into seven categories; passing, velocity, heading, tackling, ball control, speed and finishing. Each stat could go between 1-7 giving a possible perfect score of 49.
Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel (Manchester United)
So good was Peter Schmeichel that after he left Old Trafford many suggested he had put a curse on the goalposts, as many struggled to fill the huge void left by the Great Dane’s departure. He is the best goalkeeper in the game and even though he is also the most expensive, he is definitely worth it.
Right-back: Luisinho (Sao Paulo)
Luisinho is another expensive player but this man is absolute lightening. In a game that prided itself on its quick gameplay, fast players dominated and there were none more rapid than Luisinho. He complimented this wonderfully with perfect stats in tackling and passing.
Centre-back: Fernando Hierro (Real Madrid)
Everyone loves a goalscoring centre-back don’t they? With a score of seven for finishing Hierro will be more than capable should he get in the box, although his pace means it is unlikely he’ll get there in a hurry. Hierro is one of the most iconic defenders in recent years and his place as one of the best defenders in SWOS only cements that status.
Centre-back: Marcel Desailly (AC Milan)
French star Desailly has pace, power and an excellent shot, and the best thing is that he is brilliant either as a centre-back or a more defensive midfielder. Desailly is a great tackler and a very accomplished player on the ball; he is a player that is a must in your team.
Left-back: Paolo Maldini (AC Milan)
One of just four players in the game with a perfect set of stats, Maldini is among the best in the game and widely acknowledged as one of the best defenders in history. Maldini was a master of his art and his stats within the game reflect that. There are simply none better.
Central-midfield: Matthias Sammer (Borussia Dortmund)
We’re sure the irony of Sammer being one of the big-wigs at Bayern is not lost on the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder but that shouldn’t detract from just how good Matthias Sammer is.
His shooting is a bit below par but everything else is excellent. Simply put, he is one of the best midfielders in the game.
Central-midfield: Pep Guardiola (Barcelona)
Guardiola was the key figure in Johan Cruyff’s dream team at Barcelona and over the years few men have had as much of an impact on one club as Guardiola had at Barcelona both as a player and manager. Guardiola is the complete midfielder and the perfectly complements Sammer as the second part of the midfielder anchor.
Attacking midfielder: Dejan Savicevic (AC Milan)
Dejan Savicevic is one the best cases of a leisurely genius, a player who is capable of nearly anything except displaying a visible work rate. Yet with the ball at his feet, Savicevic was a pure delight and his stats within the game reflect that. With Sammer and Guardiola behind him as a shield, he is capable of mayhem in the attacking midfield role.
Right forward: George Weah (AC Milan)
The fourth member of AC Milan in this list, a reminder of just good their side was at this point, Weah was named African Player of the Year three times and is another who receives perfect stats in every area. On the right, Weah was incredibly fast and brilliant in front of goal when he cut inside.
Centre forward: Alan Shearer (Newcastle United)
At the time of the game’s release no player cost more money than Alan Shearer following his £15 million move from Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United and like Weah, he too has perfect stats.
Shearer was the perfect focal point for any side and without a doubt the best forward in the game.
Left forward: Bebeto (Flamengo)
It was really, really difficult to leave Alessandro Del Piero out but there was something about Bebeto that we just couldn’t resist. The Flamengo star is an excellent choice on the left as he can come inside or go down the line. He is one off a perfect set, but we still love him.