THE two questions were simple enough, but boy have they produced a variation of answers and across more than two generations.

As the countdown to the World Cup ticks, or rather kicks, away - it's just over six days to the opening match - I posed a brace of grey-matter grillings to my sports-desk colleagues, not exempting yours truly either.

First question was which was the first World Cup you can remember and the second,what is your all-time World Cup XI?

As if to demonstrate just how football engenders and entices so many different opinions, a quick glance shows five different formations from six team selections; a similar nap hand of different goalkeepers from those half a dozen line-ups; and the sad fact that only four Englishmen feature.

So, here are the opening World Cup musings from the best of The Press sports-desk.

Stuart Martel, Sports editor

First World Cup I remember is 1978 Argentina. All I can vaguely recall – aged six – is dark atmospheric television pictures from the final, with the only brightness being flashes of Dutch orange, and ticker-tape strewn across the pitch.

All-time XI: (4-4-2) GK – Dino Zoff, RB – Josimar, CB – Franco Baresi, CB – Laurent Blanc, LB – Paolo Maldini, MF - Zico, MF – Lothar Matthaus, MF – Zinedine Zidane, MF – Roberto Baggio, S – Diego Maradona, S – Gary Lineker.

Dave Flett, York City reporter

The first World Cup I remember was Espana 82. Biggest memories are of a teenage Norman Whiteside, Scotland getting thrashed by Brazil and Harald Schumacher nearly decapitating Patrick Battiston.

All-time XI: (4-3-3) Jose-Luis Chilavert; Josimar, Franco Baresi, Ronald Koeman, Roberto Carlos; Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Zinedine Zidane; Diego Maradona, Ronaldo (Brazil), Roger Milla. The likes of Chilavert, Josimar and Milla might not have shared the same illustrious careers as the other players but are in there for the exciting contributions they made on individual World Cup finals.

Peter Martini, York City Knights reporter

First World Cup I remember is 1982. I had just turned eight. I had a huge poster of the Italy team my dad nicked from an Italian restaurant (still got it, framed and all) and I remember trying to find blue socks to go with my school uniform of dark grey (black) shorts and light grey jumper so i could look like Dino Zoff.

All-time XI: (3-4-3) Dino Zoff, Josima (those two goals), Franco Baresi, Fabio Cannavaro, Gazza, Maradona, Lothar Matthaus, Roberto Baggio, Romario, Ronaldo, (the original one), Hristo Stoichkov.

Steve Carroll, The Press snooker and horse-racing writer

The first World Cup I can remember is Spain 1982 and, particularly, Italy’s 3-2 win over Brazil.

It was a wonderful game but the stand-out moment was Bryan Robson’s goal after 28 seconds against the French.

A ll-time XI: (4-4-2) Oliver Kahn, Paolo Maldini, Gaetano Scirea, Claudio Gentile, Andreas Brehme, Maradona, Socrates, Michel Platini, Zico, Gary Lineker, Rudi Voller.

Josh Luckhurst, sports journalism student at Chester University, on secondment to The Press sports-desk.

The first World Cup I can remember is France 98. I remember Ronaldo bursting onto the scene until the final but mainly remember the horrendous orange shirts they sold with their World Cup logo on the front (which I still have somewhere) and the Woody the Woodpecker look-a-like toys.

All time XI: (4-2-1-3) Iker Casillas, Cafu, Fernando Hierro, Fabio Cannavaro, Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane, Michael Ballack, Miroslav Klose, Ronaldo and Dennis Bergkamp.

Tony Kelly, deputy sports editor.

Due to it being my column, I get the chance to have the last say.

One of the first issues is that because of my advanced years, I have no fewer than 13 World Cup tournaments from which to select players, though whether that's an advantage or a hindrance I'm not so sure.

Next week, the question is: what starting XI should national coach Roy Hodgson plump for in England's opening group clash against Italy?

The first World Cup I can recall, is no doubt, England's greatest, 1966 and all that.

My abiding memory - even beating the fact that Liverpool's (Sir) Roger Hunt led the attack - was the late Bobby Moore wiping his hands on the cloth draped over the front of the Royal Box so as not to smear the white gloves of the Queen when she presented him with the Jules Rimet Trophy. Sheer class.

All time XI: (4-3-2-1) Gordon Banks, Carlos Alberto, Franco Baresi, Bobby Moore, Paul Breitner, Johann Cruyff, Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini, Pele, Maradona, Gerd Muller.