Antonio Cabrini (Juventus and Italy) *** 28 games, 7 goals
A dynamo down the left touchline for Juventus, Cabrini is not just a workhorse. There are precious few players in any position who possess his quality on the ball, his intelligence of positioning or his anticipation. Only 11 players scored more goals than the left-back in the whole of Serie A.
Maxime Bossis (Nantes and France) ** 37 games, 0 goals
Nobody performed better for Nantes in 1980-1 than Maxime Bossis. The French international was a pillar of strength throughout a campaign that almost saw them hold off the challenge from perennial title winners St Etienne. Few then were surprised to see Onze Mondial in their team of the year.
Manfred Kaltz (Hamburg and West Germany)** 34 games, 7 goals
The runs of Kaltz down the right flank make him probably the best attacking fullback in Europe. His crossing has pinpoint accuracy and he is not afraid to take on a shot himself. If he has a fault, it is that his defending is not quite as good as his offensive contributions, but regardless there are few better players in his position.
Mick Mills (Ipswich Town and England) ** 33 games, 0 goals
As captain of Ipswich Town, Mills could be hugely proud of a remarkable season. Winners of the UEFA Cup and only narrowly pipped to the league title by Aston Villa, the club had a fantastic year. Mills was a model of consistency for the Tractor Boys and was the pick of many for player of the season.
Jose Camacho (Real Madrid and Spain) * 34 games, 0 goals
Seemingly fully recovered from the knee injuries which kept him out for so long, Camacho now appears to be back to his best. The left-back enjoyed an excellent season for Real Madrid, despite the club narrowly missing out on both the Spanish league title and the European Cup.
Hugo Hovenkamp (AZ Alkmaar and Holland) * 30 games, 5 goals
A converted left midfielder, Hovenkamp’s best attributes remain going forward. Vastly experienced, his composed presence in defence was of great importance in helping some of AZ’s younger players through a challenging season.
Kenny Swain (Aston Villa and England) * 42 games, 0 goals
Very few neutrals gave Aston Villa much chance of winning the First Division title when the season kicked off. That they did emerge victorious was due to the fact that so many players performed to their very maximum. Swain was no exception, and his crosses from right-back were superb ammunition for Peter Withe and Gary Shaw.
Rafael Gordillo (Real Betis and Spain) * 34 games, 3 goals
Capable of playing as either a left-back or a left sided midfielder, Gordillo is at his best when he is powering down the touchline. The Spaniard’s contract was up at the end of the season and Gordillo naturally attracted interest from larger clubs, that Betis could hold on to their best player was a major coup.
Patrick Battiston (St Etienne and France) * 38 games, 4 goals
Battiston’s first season at St Etienne proved to be an unmitigated success. He played every league game in a season which saw Les Verts win another French title. Already established as a regular for the national side such success will do his long term position in the team no harm.
Wolfgang Dremmler (Bayern Munich and West Germany) * 33 games, 1 goals
Bayern Munich retained their Bundesliga crown with tremendous contributions throughout the squad. Dremmler’s performances were good enough to see him break into the West German national side, making his debut against Brazil in January 1981, no small feat given the strength of the European champions.
Having moved from Crystal Palace to Arsenal in the summer, Sansom made an immediate impact in North London. The left-back had proven himself the best in England in his position over recent years, and continued that form for his new club as his peers voted him to their team of the season.
No nation can rival the depth of left-backs available to Spain. With Camacho and Gordillo in competition with Cundi it is questionable whether the Gijon man will add to his international appearances. Despite that he has been one of La Liga’s most consistent fullbacks and was a major force in Sporting Gijon’s creditable seventh place finish.
Winners in the Belgian Cup final, Standard Lierge owed much to their adventurous right-back Gerets. Never afraid to go forward, he is also very strong defensively and is rarely beaten in the tackle. Enzo Bearzot thought highly enough o f Gerets to place him as one of the top two full-backs in Europe.
The consistency that is a trademark of Neal’s game was again evident in 1980-1. The Liverpool right-back was, yet again, a constant presence in their defence and his assured performances were of tremendous value in capturing a third European Cup victory.