I have been fortunate to play alongside and against few of the game’s greatest during my playing days with Liverpool, Juventus and the Wales national side. Every generation comes with its own genius and it is futile to compare players of different eras as football is always evolving.
I have decided to rummage through my memory and pick my All Time XI, giving the readers a flight of fantasy where Luis Suarez, a Barcelona man, will play alongside Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. My team will take the field in an attacking 4-3-3 formation. I will not give up on the chance to partner the Uruguayan-Portuguese and will pen my name as the third forward in the team sheet.
Here goes my list…
Goalkeeper: Neville Southall — For at least five years he was the best goalkeeper in the world. A great shot stopper, he was also blessed with the ability to distribute the ball from the back. A perfect goalkeeper for modern day teams like Barcelona and Manchester City. Though, I did manage to score a few past him, Southall was one of the hardest ‘keepers I’ve faced.
Defenders: Franz Beckenbauer — Watching him play was a treat. He looked the sleekest, coolest player around. Franz never tackled as his reading of the game was immaculate. I will veer away from my opening statement and stick my neck out and say the man could have played in any era. He was that good!
Franco Baresi — He wasn’t very quick and I was quick, but I could never get past him. He always knew where I was and where I would end up going. The Italian’s calm and composed nature brought a sense of confidence to the team.
Paulo Maldini — Maldini’s long career was a revelation as he marshalled the AC Milan and Italian defence well into his late 30s. He was rock solid on the left side of the pitch, with players finding it almost impossible to find a way past him. The Italian was also adept at creating chances and had his fair share of goals, making him a class act.
Phil Neil — This man just never got injured. Phil was a fantastic passer of the ball and scored an amazing amount of goals for a defender. He never missed a game and was incredibly reliable, offering the attacking players the licence to go for the kill. He, deservedly, is the most decorated amongst the Liverpool greats.
Midfielders: Steven Gerrard — I’m not being biased here. Gerrard is without a doubt one of the best midfielders the Premier League has ever seen. I have seen him win games for Liverpool on his own. He is a true leader and his attitude on and off the pitch is fantastic.
Bryan Robson — He was tough as nails. Bryan was never scared to put a foot in to stop a player from marauding forward and was always game when he was at the receiving end of fouls. He got his tackles when it mattered and a few of them might not be allowed in today’s game.
Michel Platini — I was lucky enough to have played with and against him. He was a fantastic passer of the ball and could score from practically anywhere. He possessed a brilliant football mind and his hypnotic star quality on and off the pitch was incredible. He was untouchable, the star among stars wherever he went.
Strikers: Luis Suarez — Apart from Kenny Dalglish, who is my all time favourite, Suarez is a player with whom I will love to play. His tenacity and aggression makes him a terror for the opposing defence and the Uruguayan’s class and tireless work will surely open up space for his partner to excel.
Cristiano Ronaldo — No real explanation needed here. He’s one of the greatest players I’ve seen. Cristiano possesses every quality that you need to reach the summit of football glory. His physical intensity and shape is something to admire even in today’s world of highly athletic footballers.
Capable of playing with both feet, Cristiano also is a great header of the ball. His exceptional skills from a dead ball situation make it impossible to keep him away from any team.
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