‘Controversial’ and ‘flithy’: Fans react as Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer takes part in viral trend

There was no space for Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi as Alan Shearer picked his World Cup XI.

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Football fans were sent into hot debate by Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer as he took part in a viral trend on Wedensday afternoon.

The former striker is currently in Qatar offering punditry and commentary services for the World Cup 2022 and took part in a popular task relating to the competition for The Athletic. Shearer was tasked with picking his best ever starting XI from World Cup history, but only with one player from each country.

The Magpies icon shared his final team on Twitter and admitted it was a "hard" task to undertake. There were some glaring omissions from Shearer's team, which fans were quick to pick up on, but the pundit was adamant he was "happy" with his selections.

In goal, Shearer opted for Soviet Union shot-stopper Lev Yashin, known for his bravery and cat-like reflexes during the four World Cups he appeared in. In front of him, the Newcastle star picked Italian Paolo Maldini, Englishman Bobby Moore, West German Franz Beckenbauer and Uruguayan Jose Nasazzi.

The strong midfielder was composed of three more recent World Cup legends. From Spain, Shearer picked Xavi, from France the ever-controversial Zinedine Zidane and Croatian Luka Modric made up the three - Modric the only current player making the cut.

It's in the forward area that Shearer's team caused the most controversy amongst football fans online. There was no space for Cristiano Ronaldo and Newcastle United? The links explained ">Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi as the ex Magpie went for Aregentinain Diego Maradona and Dutchman Johan Cruyff on the wings. Completing the forward three is Brazilian icon Pele through the middle.

It didn't take long for Shearer's followers on Twitter to start pulling their own teams together, whilst others offered critique on the star's choices.

One Twitter user said: "Maradona ahead of Messi? Controversial young man!"

Another added: "Messi instead of Maradona and you’ve cracked it Al me old fruit."

Meanwhile, others labelled it "not a bad effort", a "filty line up" and "an impressive line-up". One fan joked: "No Newcastle Players in there Al?"

This year’s World Cup is of course shrouded with controversey. The World Cup host country has some of the world's worst human rights records with homosexuality illegal under Qatari law and even punishable by death. A total of ten European nations - England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands - were due to sport the OneLove armband to challenge the appalling Qatari laws.

Danish FA chief executive Jakob Jensen said the group were now exploring the legal options open to themDanish FA chief executive Jakob Jensen said the group were now exploring the legal options open to them
Danish FA chief executive Jakob Jensen said the group were now exploring the legal options open to them

However, in a last-minute u-turn, the FA scrapped those plans citing their reasoning as FIFA's threat to replace fines with yellow and red cards for players - although this had always been a possibility.

Working as a pundit for the BBC ahead of England’s meeting with Iran, Alan Shearer wasted no time in confronting the issue. In a seven-word verdict, Shearer said: “It would have been a huge statement.”

He also added: “I don’t think it’s fair on the players having to deal with this on the morning of the game. They’ve done incredible work off the pitch, a lot of the England players and manager, including during the pandemic.

“The FA knew it was in the rule book that they weren’t allowed to wear the armband. It’s not fair on the players having to deal with this before one of the biggest games they will ever play, the morning of a World Cup game. All the players should be thinking about now is how they are going to win this game.”