With the launch of EA Sports FC 24 right around the corner, that got us thinking about the iconic players in years gone by who were way better in FIFA than in real life.
That’s right, we’re taking about those pace merchants who had no business being as good as they were in FIFA. From FIFA 11 up until now, we’ve compiled the ultimate XI.
Given we’re talking FIFA, it’s only right that we build our XI in the 3-5-2 formation. Here’s our XI of players who were way better in FIFA than in real life.
GK: Jack Butland
At his peak, Butland was a solid Premier League-level shot-stopper, but in FIFA 17 the Stoke goalkeeper was the reincarnation of prime Gianluigi Buffon.
As soon as you saw your opponent’s team with Butland in goal, you already knew it was game over. We dread to think how many broken controllers he was responsible for over the years. There was simply no beating him.
FIFA 17 Jack Butland
One of the most rage inducing players in FUT history.
A god against you, but always seemed to be doing the mannequin challenge in your side 🙃 pic.twitter.com/TMwJ9ipOk2
— Jamey Cane – FutEconomist (@FUT_Economist) December 11, 2018
CB: Felipe Santana
We’ll always fondly remember the glory days of lining up with a full Brazilian backline consisting of Santana, Dede and Naldo back in FIFA 13.
Santana had a solid career in Europe but was often viewed as second or third choice while playing for Borussia Dortmund. In FIFA 13, the rapid Brazilian defender was one of the first players on your team sheet.
CB: Chris Smalling
In real life, Smalling probably had his best season for Man Utd around 2017-18 and that coincided with him being an absolute menace in FIFA.
His gangly legs partnered with 77 pace made him an absolute unit on the game. The fact that everyone partnered him up with Eric Bailly, who was similarly overpowered at the time, made it almost impossible to get past him.
CB: Marvell Wynne
A centre-back with 96 pace? Absolutely disgusting.
It didn’t matter that Wynne was only 66 rated on FIFA 12, he was already one of the best defenders in the game. The former Colorado Rapids defender felt faster than Usain Bolt and made his way into almost everyone’s Ultimate Team at the time.
RM: Victor Ibarbo
Premier League fans were excited to see Ibarbo in action when he sealed a loan move to Watford in 2015. Expectations were high at the time as the 77-rated forward quickly became a cult hero on FIFA.
In real life though? Not so much. The Colombian forward struggled to make an impact while in England and it wasn’t long before he was training with the Watford reserves. Still, the guy was basically Pele in FIFA 14.
The Brazilian midfielder was a top player for Chelsea back in the day, but his ability on FIFA far outweighed his skillset in real life. A holding midfielder with 88 pace and 94 stamina? The guy could run for days.
If you didn’t have Ramires in your FIFA 13 Ultimate Team, you were missing out. Chelsea fans will always love the guy and so will hundreds of thousands of FIFA players.
CM: Tiemoue Bakayoko
Bakayoko completes the Chelsea duo in midfield and for good reason. He somehow managed to make his way into the Premier League flop XI of the season in the same year that he was one of the best players in FIFA.
While he struggled to find his footing at Stamford Bridge, he was at the base of pretty much everyone’s Ultimate Team in FIFA 18. That takes some doing.
Think Bakayoko might just about be the worst signing in recent history pic.twitter.com/WYXNOMFOIQ
— Chiddy 🇳🇬 (@chiddyafc) December 5, 2017
LM: Stephan El Shaarawy
Back in the good old days of FIFA 12 when you could easily slot a silver card into your main team, El Shaarawy was different gravy. With five star skills and weak foot, the guy was like a mini Ronaldinho.
Something was in the water with El Shaarawy’s card that year because we can’t wrap our head around the fact a 73-rated silver card was so good.
The dynamic Italian winger had a hugely promising start to life in Milan, but never quite lived up to the hype that was first expected.
CAM: Julian Draxler
The German attacking midfielder has crafted a solid career for himself, but he never quite hit the heights in real life that his card in FIFA 14 managed.
At first glance, his stats look unassuming. What’s so special about a non-rare 80-rated card from Schalke? As soon as you picked up a controller, you could tell he was built different in game.
ST: Emmanuel Emenike
Watching Emenike struggle to hit a barn door while on loan with West Ham in 2015–16 was a far cry from the player he was in FIFA 13. Strong, pacey and with a killer shot, the 81-rated forward was immense.
When that was the reputation he came with thanks to FIFA, he was always going to struggle to live up to the hype in real life.
— Akşam Spor (@aksamspor) February 13, 2016
ST: Seydou Doumbia
Had you only played FIFA 13 and never watched football in real life, you would probably be under the impression that Doumbia is the greatest player of all time. The guy could wriggle out of any spot and single handily win a match by himself.
In real life, his career was a bit more modest. He enjoyed prolific spells with Young Boys and CSKA Moscow, but struggled to pull up any trees in Europe’s major leagues.
He enjoyed short stints with Roma and Newcastle in real life but struggled to find much of a goalscoring touch. Still, we’ll always remember the FIFA 13 days.