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Football fans will always have debates about who were the greatest ever players and what was the greatest ever team.

Our site allows you to create your own greatest eleven to share with your friends
and have it digitally printed and delivered to hang on your wall.
So you can all debate it all over again.

So. Who are your greatest eleven?

GIANLUIGI BUFFON.

A FANTASTIC KEEPER WHO HAS DONE IT YEAR AFTER YEAR SINCE HIS DEBUT FOR PARMA IN 1995.

JAVIER ZANETTI.

WE WENT FOR THE ARGENTINE OVER CAFU, AN OUTSTANDING PLAYER OVER MANY SEASONS.

FABIO CANNAVARO.

NOT MANY DEFENDERS WIN THE BALLON D’OR, CANNAVARO DID HAVING CAPTAINED ITALY TO WORLD CUP GLORY.

FRANCO BARESI.

1 WORLD CUP, 3 EUROPEAN CUPS, COUNTLESS SERIE A TITLES. A LEGEND. MILAN RETIRED THE NUMBER 6 WHEN HE RETIRED.

PAOLO MALDINI.

IS SURELY IN ANYONE’S GREATEST XI, JUST THE 5 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINS FOR HIM!

ZINEDINE ZIDANE.

WAS HE EVEN TRYING WHEN HE PLAYED?! THE WORLD CUP ‘98 FINAL DISPLAY, THE 2001 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL GOAL, WHAT A PLAYER.

LOTHAR MATTHAUS.

WORLD CUP WINNER, EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS WINNER, POPPED UP WITH SOME BREATHTAKING GOALS.

ANDRES INIESTA.

INTEGRAL TO BARCELONA AND SPAIN TEAMS WHO WERE AWESOME TO WATCH. DEFENDERS COULDNT GET THE BALL OFF HIM IN A PHONE BOX. BRILLIANT TO WATCH, TOUCH, VISION, QUICK FEET.

LIONEL MESSI.

THE GREATEST PLAYER OF ALL TIME? IF NOT VERY CLOSE TOO. NOT ONLY JUST GOALS AND ASSISTS, A JOY TO WATCH.

RONALDO.

WE HAD TO PICK R9, FOOTBALL ITALIA WAS A MUST WATCH WITH HIM PLAYING. PACE, POWER, SKILLS AND FINISHING, DEFENDERS DIDN’T STAND A CHANCE.

RONALDINHO.

CAPABLE OF THE EXTRAORDINARY. DURING HIS TIME AT BARCELONA HE WAS RIDICULOUSLY GOOD. NOT MANY GET A STANDING OVATION AT THE BERNABEU!

DINO ZOFF.

THE IMAGE OF ZOFF IN HIS GREY AZZURRI GOALKEEPERS JERSEY IN THE 70’S AND 80’S, IS AS ICONIC AS IT IS NOSTALGIC. ARGUABLY THE BEST ITALIAN GOALKEEPER OF ALL TIME, DINO ZOFF HAD AND DID IT ALL. A WORLD CUP WINNER AT 40, SERIAL TITLE WINNER WITH JUVENTUS AND A GOALKEEPER WHO HELPED SHAPE THE MODERN-DAY POSITION. HIS LEGACY LASTS TODAY AS HE WAS SEEN TO BE THE TORCH HOLDER FOR A COUNTRY KNOW SYNONYMOUS WITH GREAT GOALKEEPERS.

JAVIER ZANETTI.

JAVIER ZANETTI QUITE LITERALLY IS INTER. THERE ARE FEW PLAYERS IN A CLUBS HISTORY WHO EMBODY THE VALUES LIKE ZANETTI DOES WITH INTER. THE MODEL PROFESSIONAL, HE WORKED TIRELESSLY AS A FULL BACK AND A MIDFIELDER CAPTAINING THE SIDE TO A HISTORIC TREBLE IN 2010. FOREVER YOUNG, HE PLAYED UNTIL HE WAS 40 AND EL TRACTOR HAD THE SAME INCREDIBLE PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES RIGHT UNTIL THE END.

FRANCO BARESI.

FRANCO BARESI’S LEGENDARY STATUS IS UNTOUCHABLE. ANOTHER AC MILAN BANDIERA WHO WON SEVEN SERIE A TITLES AND THREE EUROPEAN CUPS. HE WAS COMPOSED YET UNCOMPROMISING, SUBTLE YET DOMINEERING. HE WAS THE GRACEFUL LIBERO WHO MARSHALLED THIS FORMIDABLE BACKLINE AND HE REMAINS ONE OF THE GREATEST CENTRE-BACKS ITALIAN FOOTBALL HAS EVER PRODUCED.

GAETANO SCIREA.

THE CALMEST, MOST ELEGANT SWEEPER EVER TO PLAY THE GAME. HIS BALL SKILLS WERE BETTER THAN MOST MIDFIELDERS AND HE WAS FREQUENTLY THE INSTIGATOR OF HIS TEAM’S ATTACKING MOVES. IN AN ERA OF OVERZEALOUS TACKLING, HE BUCKED THE TREND WITH HIS INTELLIGENT DEFENSIVE WORK AND WAS NEVER SENT OFF.

PAOLO MALDINI.

IS THERE ANYTHING LEFT TO BE SAID ABOUT PAOLO MALDINI? A GRACEFUL, INTELLIGENT, IMPERIOUS AND RUTHLESS DEFENDER WHO MADE STIFLING ATTACKERS LOOK LIKE AN ART FORM. A ONE CLUB MAN WHO BY THE END OF HIS QUARTER CENTURY WITH AC MILAN, HAD WON SEVEN LEAGUE TITLES AND FIVE EUROPEAN CUPS.

MARCO TARDELLI.

A HARD-TACKLING BUT SKILFUL CENTRAL MIDFIELDER WHO REDEFINED THE ROLE IN ITALY. ALSO CHIPPED IN WITH HIS FAIR SHARE OF GOALS INCLUDING A RATHER IMPORTANT ONE IN 1982, THE CELEBRATION FOR WHICH WAS COPIED IN SCHOOL PLAYGROUNDS ACROSS EUROPE. "GOL! GOL!"

ROBERTO DONADONI.

ROSE FROM SERIE C TO SERIE A WITH ATALANTA BEFORE HEADING DOWN THE ROAD TO MILAN IN 1986, AND THE REST IS HISTORY. BAGGED EIGHTEEN TROPHIES INCLUDING SIX LEAGUE TITLES AND THREE CHAMPIONS LEAGUES DURING HIS TIME AT THE SAN SIRO AND WAS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE NATIONAL TEAM FOR A DECADE. LABELLED A WINGER, BUT IN TRUTH, THE MOST VERSATILE MIDFIELDER OF HIS GENERATION.

MICHEL PLATINI.

WHATEVER YOU THINK OF THE MAN, HE WAS AN ARTIST ON THE PITCH. AS GRACEFUL AND CREATIVE AS THEY COME, HE COULD GUIDE THE BALL WITH THE PRECISION OF A SURGEON, WAS BLESSED WITH DECENT PACE, AND COULD READ THE GAME ONE PAGE AHEAD OF EVERYONE ELSE. OH, AND HIS SET-PIECES WEREN’T BAD EITHER.

MARCO VAN BASTEN.

TECHNICALLY, THERE WERE NO LIMITS TO WHAT VAN BASTEN COULD DO WITH A FOOTBALL, AS DEMONSTRATED BY THE STUNNING VARIETY OF GOALS HE SCORED FOR THE ROSSONERI. ALONGSIDE DUTCH COMPATRIOTS RIJKAARD AND GULLIT, HE WAS PART OF THE SACCHI LED REVOLUTION AT MILAN WHO PLAYED SOME OF THE BEST FOOTBALL SERIE A HAS SEEN. QUITE SIMPLY, VAN BASTEN WAS ONE OF THE MOST ELEGANT AND AESTHETICALLY PLEASING FORWARDS TO EVER PLAY THE GAME.

DIEGO MARADONA.

IF DIEGO MARADONA IS TO BE DEBATED ABOUT BEING THE BEST OF ALL TIME, THEN IT IS HIS TIME AT NAPOLI THAT PLAYS A MAJOR PART. DURING THIS TIME, HE CAPTAINED THE PARTENOPEI TO TWO SCUDETTI, A UEFA CUP AND A COPPA ITALIA. IN THIS PERIOD HE DRAGGED ARGENTINA TO A WORLD CUP WIN AND CAPTURED THE HEART OF HIS COUNTRY AND NAPLES. THE FACT THAT HE IS STILL WORSHIPED AS A GOD IN THE CITY, IS TESTAMENT TO HIS GENIUS.

ROBERTO BAGGIO.

FEW PLAYERS ARE AS UNIVERSALLY LOVED AS ROBERTO BAGGIO. MILAN, INTER AND JUVENTUS STILL ADORE HIM AND EVEN THE FLORENTINES CANNOT DENY HIS BRILLIANCE. THE MAN WITH AN ICONIC LOOK AND A DISTINCTIVE STYLE OF PLAY, BAGGIO CAPTURED THE HEARTS OF A NATION IN ITALIA 90 AND REMINDED THE WORLD JUST WHAT BEAUTY OF THE FOOTBALL PITCH LOOKED LIKE. BAGGIO IS ARGUABLY THE BEST ITALIAN FOOTBALLER IN HISTORY.

MANUEL NEUER.

THE VERY BEST SWEEPER-KEEPER IN THE BUSINESS. HIS REFLEXES ASTOUNDING - HIS MERE PRESENCE BETWEEN THE STICKS IS A PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER - HIS PLAY IN BRAZIL ‘14 LEGENDARY - “DER KEEPEER”

NEMANJA VIDIC.

SIR ALEX’S SERBIAN DREAM COME TRUE - 50/50 BALLS, GOOD LUCK! - GLORY GLORY NEMANJA VIDIC!

FRANZ BECKENBAUER.

LEADERSHIP EXEMPLIFIED - A DOMINANT PRESENCE THAT MADE SUPERMAN JEALOUS WITH HIS VISION - BROUGHT THE BALL UP FROM THE BACK AS IF ON THE RED CARPET...

PAOLO MALDINI.

AN ICON IN RED AND BLACK AND IN BLUE; HIS PHYSIQUE SCULPTURE WORTHY, MADE DEFENDING LOOK SO ELEGANT. TRULY WORLD CLASS AND HIS LOYALTY NEVER IN DOUBT.

RONALDINHO.

JOY, LOVE, HAPPINESS, THAT IS DINHO - HIS SMILE AND SKILL MADE US ALL FANS. A TRUE WIZARD WITH THE BALL AT HIS FEET!

ZINEDINE ZIDANE.

A FINE FRENCH WINE, THAT HAD A THRUST TO MARVEL US ON THE BIG STAGE - HIS WONDERFUL TOUCH, PURE VINTAGE.

MARADONA.

A TRUE FOOTBALLING HERO , LEADING ARGENTINA IN ‘86, AND THE CITY OF NAPOLI TO GREATER FORTUNE. HIS FIRST STRIDE WAS SO EXPLOSIVE THAT HIS NO. 10 JERSEY DOMINATED THE PITCH. ONE OF A KIND, BROUGHT THE GAME TO A DIFFERENT LEVEL.

JOHAN CRUYFF.

BRILLIANCE - HIS MIND ALWAYS PLAYING FOOTBALL CHESS AND HIS DEVOTION TO PLAYING ATTRACTIVE FOOTBALL MADE FOOTBALL INTO AN ART FORM.

GARRINCHA.

A SENSATIONAL WINGER - DRIBBLED, DANCES, KISSES AND DRANK FOR US ALL ON AND OFF THE PITCH. THE FIRST JOY OF FOOTBALL.

PELE.

A COUNTRY WEIGHED ON HIS SHOULDERS AT 17- A TALENT TO FIND THE BACK OF THE NET. THE CANARY YELLOW JERSEY SHINED SO BRIGHT THAT HAS LED TO MANY BRAZILIAN GREAT TO FOLLOW. HE WON A COUNTRY OVER - HE WAS A COSMO - FOOTBALL’S FIRST MOVIE STAR.

LIONEL MESSI.

GIFTED - HAS DOMINATED WORLD FOOTBALL WITH HIS PACE AND DRIBBLING SKILL AND THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LEFT FOOT THE GAME HAS EVER SEEN.

ANTTI NIEMI.

BEST KEEPER TO PULL ON A HEARTS JERSEY IN MY LIFETIME. GENUINELY WORLD CLASS. SO GOOD THAT THERE WERE CALLS TO CAP HIM FOR SCOTLAND DESPITE HIM BEING FINISH -

Talksport Call.

LILIAN THURAM.

TO RECOVER FROM GIFTING A GOAL IN A WORLD CUP SEMI ON HOME SOIL BY SCORING TWO GOALS IS SOME FEAT. TO DO IT FROM RIGHT BACK IS GENIUS.

CRAIG LEVEIN.

CRAIG LEVEIN OF HEARTS SAW AN INCREDIBLY PROMISING CAREER DESTROYED BY INJURY, UNFORTUNATELY. HE WAS A THOROUGHBRED IN THE MOULD OF ALAN HANSEN. EFFORTLESS IN TURNING DEFENCE INTO ATTACK. SHOULD’VE GONE ON TO BEING A SCOTLAND REGULAR.

FRANCO BARESI.

FRANCO. SIMPLY THE BEST DEFENDER OF HIS GENERATION. FOR CLUB AND COUNTRY. HE WAS THE WORLD’S BEST IN DEFENCE AND GENERATING ATTACK. NOT A BIG PHYSICAL PRESENCE BY TODAY’S STANDARDS SO REIGNED WITH GUILE AND SKILL. A LEGEND.

ROBERTO CARLOS.

MAYBE NOT THE BEST DEFENSIVELY BUT GOING FORWARD HE PUT THE FEAR INTO OPPOSING PLAYERS LIKE NO-ONE ELSE. LIGHTING-QUICK AND WITH A SHOT THAT CAME FROM A CANNON. PRACTICALLY INVENTED THE OUTSWINGING FREE-KICK THUNDERB*ST*RD.

JOHN COLQUHOUN.

JOHN COLQUHOUN IS QUITE SIMPLY MY FAVOURITE EVER PLAYER. PLAYED ON THE RIGHT WING FOR HEARTS OVER TWO SEPARATE SPELLS AND LEFT MULTIPLE LEFT-BACKS WITH TWISTED BLOOD AND A DEEP SENSE OF INADEQUACY. AND COULD SCORE FROM ANY ANGLE AT ANY DISTANCE.

SOCRATES.

THE DOCTOR. NO ONLY WAS HE A MAVERICK, SUPER-TALENTED MIDFIELDER, BUT A POLITICALLY AND SOCIALLY ACTIVE PHILANTHROPIST. A GREAT MAN AND AN INCREDIBLE FOOTBALLER. AND SUPERCOOL.

ZICO.

ONE OF FEW PLAYERS THAT MAKE THE GAME LOOK SO EFFORTLESS YOU START TO BELIEVE YOU CAN DO WHAT HE DOES. YOU CAN’T. NO-ONE CAN. THE BEST FREE-KICK TAKER THERE WILL EVER BE.

DAVIE COOPER.

DAVIE COOPER HAD THE BEST LEFT FOOT I’VE EVER SEEN. THE BEST SCOTTISH PLAYER OF HIS GENERATION HE SHOULD’VE DONE MORE ON THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE BUT NOT EVEN HE COULD PROPEL A SCOTLAND TEAM TO GREATER HEIGHTS. GULLIT PICKED HIM IN HIS BEST ELEVEN, SO I CAN’T BE FAR WRONG.

MARADONA.

NATCH. NO NEED FOR EXPLANATION. THE BEST.

RONALDO.

PROPER RONALDO. NOT THE OTHER ONE. THE MOST COMPLETE FORWARD OF HIS GENERATION AND MAYBE EVER. ABSOLUTELY UNSTOPPABLE. AND PLAYED WITH A SMILE ON HIS FACE WHICH IS INCREDIBLY REFRESHING.

GIANLUCA PAGLIUCA.

ITALY NUMBER 1 AND SAMPDORIA AND INTER LEGEND.

JAVIER ZANETTI.

ARGENTINE AND INTER LEGEND. ONLY CHOICE FOR RB.

ALESSANDRO COSTACURTA.

PART OF THE MILAN BACK FOR AND ARGUABLY THE MOST UNDERRATED. SUPERB DISTRIBUTION.

ALESSANDRO NESTA.

A PROPER CENTRE BACK. LOADS OF PACE AND POWER AND AMAZING TIMING IN THE CHALLENGE.

PAOLO MALDINI.

THE MILAN AND ITALY LEGEND. WOULD WALK INTO ANY TEAM. EVER.

DIDIER DESCHAMPS.

THE ORIGINAL DMC. JUVE AND FRANCE LEGEND.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE.

THE ARTIST AND THE CONDUCTOR. FRANCE AND JUVE LEGEND. #GOAT

RUUD GULLIT.

DUTCH LEGEND. MILAN LEGEND. WON EVERYTHING. CLASS PLAYER.

GIANFRANCO ZOLA.

UNDERRATED IN ITALY. USUALLY IN BAGGIOS SHADOW, BUT TECHNICALLY AS GOOD AS ANYONE IN THE WORLD.

DEJAN SAVICEVIC.

OUR FAVOURITE PLAYER. ONE OF THE MOST SKILFUL PLAYERS EVER. GREAT LEFT FOOT. MILAN LEGEND. YUGOSLAVIA LEGEND.

CHRISTIAN VIERI.

AT HIS PEAK WAS UNPLAYABLE. LEFT FOOT LIKE A WAND. TOP SCORER WHEREVER HE WENT.

IKER CASILLAS.

THE GREATEST GOALKEEPER OF A GENERATION, AND PROBABLY OF ALL TIME, IT’S SAFE TO SAY THAT IKER CASILLAS WON THE LOT. I REMEMBER SEEING HIS REACTION STOPS IN HIS PRIME AND WONDERING WHAT KIND OF INSANE TRAINING A MAN HAD TO DO TO GET THEIR REFLEXES TO RESEMBLE LIGHTNING - CASILLAS WON GAMES BY HIMSELF. WHAT STANDS OUT IN HIS EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF TROPHIES THOUGH, IS HIS TEMPERAMENT - HE’S WON AN ABSURD AMOUNT OF FAIR PLAY AWARDS, AND ALWAYS BEEN A PERFECT GENTLEMAN, IN VICTORY AND DEFEAT. THE MEASURE OF THE MAN PERHAPS STANDS TO ATTENTION MOST IN HIS REACTION TO THOSE STORMY MOURINHO-GUARDIOLA CLASICO YEARS, WHERE HE WAS THE FIRST TO APOLOGISE, DEFY HIS MANAGER AND HEAL THE RIFT BETWEEN THE SPANISH PLAYERS OF MADRID AND BARCA, PUTTING HIS CLUB CAREER ON THE LINE FOR WHAT HE BELIEVED WAS RIGHT. IT’S THAT TEMPERAMENT THAT CATAPULTS HIM FAR BEYOND HIS CONTEMPORARY, GIGI BUFFON, FOR ME. A TRUE GENIUS BETWEEN THE STICKS, A TRUE GENTLEMAN OF THE GAME.

STEVE FINNAN.

ONE STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART HERE, BUT I WATCHED STEVE FINNAN COME THROUGH THE RANKS AT FULHAM ON A WEEKLY BASIS AS THE CLUB ASCENDED TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE, AND IN ALL HIS 187 APPEARANCES IN WHITE, I CAN’T REMEMBER ANYONE EVER REALLY GETTING THE BETTER OF HIM ONE ON ONE. A WONDERFUL PROFESSIONAL, FINNAN’S BOMBING UP AND DOWN THE CHANNEL WAS ENOUGH TO MAKE A VERY YOUNG BOY WANT TO BE A RIGHT BACK, WHICH IS NO MEAN FEAT IN ITSELF. THE FACT THAT HE PLAYED AND SCORED IN EVERY ONE OF THE TOP FIVE DIVISIONS OF ENGLISH FOOTBALL IS TESTAMENT TO HIS SELF-BELIEF, HIS WORK ETHIC AND HIS DETERMINATION; AND HIS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MEDAL IS SOMETHING NO-ONE CAN TAKE AWAY. POTENTIALLY THE MOST UNDERRATED RIGHT BACK IN PREMIER LEAGUE HISTORY - FINNAN WAS A CLASS APART IN HIS PRIME.

GERARD PIQUE AND CARLES PUYOL.

THE ODD COUPLE THAT DANCED LIKE NO-ONE BEFORE THEM, I THOUGHT LONG AND HARD ABOUT WHICH ONE OF THESE TWO I WAS GOING TO PICK BEFORE DECIDING THAT IT WOULDN’T BE RIGHT TO INCLUDE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER. THE CATALAN ROCK ON WHICH PEP GUARDIOLA BUILT HIS ALL-CONQUERING CHURCH OF FOOTBALL, THE TWO OF THEM REDEFINED WHAT IT MEANT TO DEFEND. THEIR COMPATIBILITY ON THE PITCH, THE SAGE OLD PUYOL MENTORING THE EXUBERANT TALENT OF PIQUE AND TURNING HIM INTO THE DEFENDER HE IS TODAY, WAS ONE THING; BUT THEIR ABILITY TO PASS OUT FROM THE BACK, TO SPLIT WIDE TO ALLOW BUSQUETS TO DROP AND OVERLOADS TO BE CREATED DOWN THE FLANKS AND THEIR UNERRING CONFIDENCE IN PLAYING GUARDIOLA’S POSITIONAL PASSING FOOTBALL WERE WHAT MADE THEM STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD. PEOPLE OFTEN TALK, AND RIGHTLY SO, OF THE ATTACKING PROWESS OF GUARDIOLA’S BARCA, BUT THEIR DEFENSIVE RECORD SPEAKS FOR ITSELF - CONCEDING FEWER THAN ANY OTHER DOMESTIC SIDE DURING HIS TENURE AS MANAGER. WITH THESE TWO THOUGH, IT WAS MORE THAN THAT. THEIR PASSION, THEIR LOVE OF THE BLAUGRANA AND OF CATALONIA - PIQUE DOING THE ‘MANITA’ AND PUYOL TEARING OFF HIS CATALAN FLAG ARMBAND TO KISS IT AT THE BERNABEU - WHILST SIMULTANEOUSLY CARRYING THAT FORWARD FOR THEIR COUNTRY AND WINNING ON THE BIGGEST STAGES OF ALL, SEEMED TO SUGGEST THAT THERE COULD BE A HARMONY BETWEEN NATIONAL AND REGIONAL PRIDE IN AN ERA WHERE TENSIONS BEGAN TO FRAY. THE MOST MAGNIFICENT CENTRE-HALF PAIRING IN MY LIVING MEMORY, FORMING THE BACKBONE OF THIS GREATEST XI.

PHILIPP LAHM.

IT DOES FEEL A BIT LIKE CHEATING TO SHOEHORN PHILIPP LAHM IN AT LEFT BACK BUT HE DID PLAY EXTENSIVELY HERE IN HIS LOAN SPELL AT FRANKFURT AND IN HIS FIRST THREE SEASONS BACK AT BAYERN, SO IN HE GOES. ONCE DESCRIBED BY PEP GUARDIOLA AS ONE OF THE MOST INTELLIGENT PLAYERS HE’S EVER COACHED, IT’S NO SURPRISE THAT THE FORMER GERMAN INTERNATIONAL WON SUCH A STRONG PLACE IN THE CATALONIAN’S HEART. ADAPTABLE, DRIVEN AND COMFORTABLE IN A HOST OF POSITIONS, AS WELL AS BEING A MODEL CAPTAIN WHO LED HIS SIDE TO WORLD CUP GLORY, HIS STYLE AND LEADERSHIP HELPED TRANSITION BAYERN INTO THE PEP YEARS, BUILDING A FOOTBALLING IDENTITY THAT FUSED THE BARCA DNA WITH THE VERTICAL NATURE OF THE GERMAN GAME. LAHM’S INFLUENCE ON THAT SIDE CANNOT BE UNDERSTATED, AND PEP’S COMMENTS WHEN THE GERMAN RETIRED WERE A SHINING LIGHT INTO THE RESPECT HE HAS FOR LAHM’S ABILITY AND PERSONALITY. ONE OF THE FIRST GREAT MODERN FULL-BACKS, LAHM’S LEGACY WILL CONTINUE TO GROW.

XABI ALONSO.

A GORGEOUS FOOTBALLER, IN PRETTY MUCH EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD, AND ONE OF THE TRUE GREAT MAESTROS OF THE MODERN ERA. THE FIRST THING I RECALL ABOUT WATCHING XABI WAS THAT HE ALWAYS SEEMED TO HAVE MORE TIME ON THE BALL THAN ANYONE ELSE. WHILST THE PREMIER LEAGUE RUSHED ON AT 100 MILES AN HOUR, ALONSO SEEMED TO HAVE THIS ‘BERNARD’S WATCH’-ESQUE QUALITY TO STOP THE BALL, GET HIS HEAD UP, AND PICK THE PERFECT PASS, AND HE WOULD DO IT TIME AND TIME AND TIME AGAIN. FOR SOCIEDAD, FOR LIVERPOOL, FOR REAL, FOR BAYERN, FOR SPAIN - IT DIDN’T MATTER IF IT WAS A WORLD CUP FINAL OR A PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY, XABI WAS STROLLING AROUND PLAYING INCH-PERFECT PASSES FROM THE BOTTOM OF MIDFIELD. HE PLAYED UNDER PEP, UNDER MOURINHO, ANCELOTTI, BENITEZ, DEL BOSQUE AND PELLEGRINI - A ROLL CALL OF MANY OF THE GREATEST COACHES IN THE GAME - AND SUCCEEDED UNDER ALL OF THEM, WHICH SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT HIS VERSATILITY AND HIS NATURAL TALENT. THAT ‘PAUSA’ THOUGH. SUBLIME.

PABLO AIMAR.

THE ORIGINAL EL MAGO, MESSI’S INSPIRATION, AND MAYBE THE FIRST PLAYER I REALLY FELL IN LOVE WITH OUTSIDE OF MY OWN CLUB, PABLO AIMAR SEEMED LIKE AN ANGEL SENT FROM HEAVEN WHEN HE GLIDED INTO THAT MAGNIFICENT VALENCIA TEAM OF THE EARLY NOUGHTIES AND DRIFTED AROUND THE PITCH DROPPING SHOULDERS, SENDING OPPONENTS INTO ORBIT AND THREADING PERFECT BALLS INTO THE PLAYERS AROUND HIM. MARADONA CLAIMED HE WAS ‘THE ONLY PLAYER I WOULD PAY TO WATCH’ AND YOU CAN SEE WHY - HE WAS ELECTRIC, A DIMINUTIVE SHADOW PLAGUING DEFENDERS WITH A MIXTURE OF TRICKERY AND GUILE, LIGHTING UP GAMES AND FOR A SHORT TIME, PUSHING VALENCIA’S CLAIM TO BE ONE OF THE GREAT EUROPEAN POWERHOUSES, BACKED UP BY THEIR DOUBLE IN 2003/4. BUT MOSTLY, HE WAS JUST MAGIC.

FRANCESCO TOTTI.

I THINK FRANCESCO TOTTI MIGHT HAVE HAD THE MOST PERFECT CAREER THAT YOU CAN EVER ASK FOR AS A FOOTBALLER. HE BLEEDS ROMA, AND DEFINED A GENERATION IN HIS CLUB, REFUSING COURTSHIPS FROM THE LARGEST CLUBS ON THE PLANET TO LEAD HIS BOYHOOD TEAM TO DOMESTIC GLORIES. EVEN LAZIO ULTRAS HELD UP A BANNER TO HONOUR HIM FROM ‘LIFETIME ENEMIES’ WHEN HE RETIRED. THE EIGHTH KING OF ROME AND HIS REIGN WAS ONE OF MAGNIFICENT SCREAMERS, FLICKED PASSES, ABSURD FINISHES AND ALL WHILST JUST LOOKING LIKE HE’D STEPPED OUT OF A DIOR AFTERSHAVE ADVERT. OOZED CLASS. BAMBOOZLED DEFENDERS. WHAT A MAN. HAIL THE LAST EMPEROR OF ROME.

JOAQUIN.

HOMETOWN HEROES BECOMING A BIT OF A THEME HERE BUT JOAQUIN IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. FLEET OF FOOT AND WITH PERHAPS THE BEST CROSSING ABILITY I’VE EVER SEEN, THE NATIVE ANDALUSIAN TOOK HIS BELOVED BETIS TO A COPA DEL REY TITLE AND THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGES BEFORE DEPARTING FOR VALENCIA, AS PART OF A TEAM THAT FEATURED DAVID SILVA, DAVID VILLA AND JUAN MATA; HELPING NURTURE A NEW GENERATION OF SPANISH PLAYMAKERS WHILST STILL WHIPPING IN ASSIST AFTER ASSIST. HIS RETURN TO, BUY IN AND CONTINUED PERFORMANCE AT BETIS HAVE MADE HIM ONE OF THE MOST ENDEARED BETICOS EVER, BUT IT WAS THE WHIP ON THAT RIGHT BOOT THAT DREW ME TO A YOUNG JOAQUIN, AND STILL DRAWS ME TODAY - SCORING DIRECT FROM A CORNER IN THIS SEASON’S COPA SEMI-FINAL AGAINST VALENCIA PROVING HE’S STILL RIGHT ON THE MONEY. OH, AND HE HYPNOTISES HENS! WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?

HENRIK LARSSON.

THE KING OF GLASGOW, THE KING OF KINGS. GROWING UP IN AN IRISH HOUSEHOLD, CELTIC WERE NEVER FAR FROM THE CONVERSATION, AND AS I WAS GROWING UP, CELTIC WERE POWERED BY A BRAIDED, SWEDISH HERO WHO FOUNDED MY ETERNAL LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE NO.7 SHIRT AND SCORED GOAL AFTER GOAL AFTER GOAL. IN AN ERA WHERE THE OLD FIRM WAS COMPETITIVE AND THE BATTLE FOR SUPREMACY BETWEEN CELTIC AND RANGERS WAS IN ITS POMP, LARSSON WAS THE SHARPEST WEAPON IN THE BOX, AND HIS PROWESS FUELLED CELTIC’S RUN TO THE UEFA CUP FINAL IN 2003 AS HE TERRORISED DEFENCES ALL OVER EUROPE. HE DEFIED THE ODDS AND STAYED AT CELTIC WELL THROUGH HIS PRIME YEARS, BEFORE FINALLY SUCCUMBING TO THE TEMPTATION AND JOINING BARCELONA AS A SWANSONG. PLAYING IN A TEAM ALONGSIDE RONALDINHO (WHO CALLED LARSSON HIS IDOL), HENRY (WHO SAID LARSSON WAS ONE OF THE MOST INTELLIGENT PLAYERS HE’D EVER PLAYED ALONGSIDE) AND MESSI (MORE ON HIM LATER), HE WON THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WITH HIS LAST GAME IN A BARCELONA SHIRT WHERE HE CHANGED THE GAME. OF COURSE HE DID. THE PERFECT STRIKER, IN SO MANY WAYS. GET HIM THROUGH THE MIDDLE.

LIONEL MESSI.

WHAT CAN I SAY THAT HASN’T BEEN SAID? THE GREATEST PLAYER TO EVER SET FOOT ON THIS EARTH, LIQUID MOTION, ELECTRICITY MADE FLESH WITH A BALL AT HIS FEET. ON SONG, HE LIGHTS UP ENTIRE STADIUMS, ENTIRE TOURNAMENTS, AS IF DEFYING GRAVITY ITSELF. HE DOES THINGS WITH A BALL AT HIS FEET THAT I DIDN’T THINK WERE POSSIBLE, HE MOVES DIFFERENTLY TO ANYONE I’VE EVER SEEN. FOOTBALL IS AN ART FORM, AND NO ONE WILL EVER CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE, AND MESSI IS A LIVING EMBODIMENT OF THAT. WE LIVE FOR EDGE OF THE SEAT MOMENTS, FOR THINGS THAT MAKE YOU STAND UP AND APPLAUD, THOSE THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE STAND STILL FOR A SECOND AND HE IS THE MASTER - THOSE BODY FEINTS, 30 YARD FREE-KICKS IN THE POSTAGE STAMP, THE CHIPS, THE AUDACITY. I FELL IN LOVE WITH FOOTBALL A LONG TIME AGO, UNTIL THIS LONG HAIRED KID FROM ROSARIO REDEFINED THE PARAMETERS OF WHAT MADE THE GAME GREAT, AND HE MAKES ME FALL IN LOVE WITH THE GAME TIME AND TIME AGAIN.

OLIVER KAHN.

DER TITAN. VOL-KAHN-O… EVEN OLIVER KAHN’S NICKNAMES ARE GREAT. AS A KID I PLAYED IN GOAL (UNTIL I REALISED, I WASN’T THAT GOOD) AND HE WAS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY. THE PASSION, THE REFLEXES, THE RUSHING AT OPPONENTS. HE HAD EVERYTHING.

JAVIER ZANETTI.

AT RIGHT-BACK I HAVE THE PERFECT PROFESSIONAL, THE PERFECT ROLE MODEL, THE PERFECT HAIR. JAVIER ZANETTI IS ONE OF THE FEW PLAYERS TO PLAY OVER 1000 CAREER GAMES, HE WAS ARGENTINA’S ALL-TIME TOP APPEARANCE MAKER UNTIL 2018, DESPITE BEING (RIDICULOUSLY) LEFT AT HOME FOR THE 2006 AND 2010 WORLD CUPS. FOR ME THOUGH, THE 2010 TREBLE SEASON WITH INTER WAS THE PEAK. LEADING THAT TEAM ALONGSIDE COMPATRIOTS ESTEBAN CAMBIASSO AND DIEGO MILITO TO THE PINNACLE OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL WAS ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVOURITE MOMENTS.

ALESSANDRO NESTA.

EVER SEEN ALESSANDRO NESTA’S TACKLE ON LIONEL MESSI? HE WAS 36 YEARS OLD AND IT SUMMED HIM UP. ELEGANCE AND TIMING LIKE (ALMOST) NO OTHER.

Nesta vs Messi.

JOHN TERRY.

IN A TEAM FULL OF INTERNATIONAL AND CLUB CAPTAINS, JOHN TERRY IS STILL MY FIRST CHOICE. I’M A CHELSEA FAN, AND HE LED THE TEAM AS CAPTAIN (FROM THE AGE OF 23) THROUGH MORE SUCCESS THAN ANY FAN COULD DREAM OF. FIVE PREMIER LEAGUE TITLES, FOUR FA CUPS, THREE LEAGUE CUPS, ONE EUROPA LEAGUE AND ONE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE. ASK ANY PLAYER FROM THE ACADEMY ABOUT JT AND IT’S ALWAYS GLOWING. ASK ARJEN ROBBEN - WHO ALSO PLAYED WITH RAUL, LAHM, RAMOS, VAN BOMMEL AND MORE - ABOUT THE BEST LEADER HE PLAYED WITH AND IT’S JT. HE HELPED EVERYONE BE BETTER. THE IMPORTANCE OF HIS WORK BOTH ON AND OFF THE FIELD IS SECOND TO NONE.

PAOLO MALDINI.

THERE’S NOTHING I CAN SAY THAT HASN’T BEEN SAID A MILLION TIMES. THE BEST DEFENDER I’VE EVER SEEN. EASILY THE BEST TACKLER. BRILLIANT CAPTAIN, BRILLIANT CAREER, BRILLIANT LEGACY.🐐

MICHAEL BALLACK.

I’VE WATCHED MY DVD OF THE 2002 WORLD CUP A HUNDRED TIMES. I LOVED ALMOST EVERYTHING ABOUT THAT TOURNAMENT, AND MICHAEL BALLACK CARRYING HIS GERMANY SIDE THROUGH THE COMPETITION WAS ONE OF THE GREAT STORIES. IN THE SEMI-FINAL GERMANY FACED A SOUTH KOREAN SIDE WHO PEOPLE THOUGHT HAD CHEATED THEIR WAY THROUGH THE ENTIRE COMPLETION, IN THE 71ST MINUTE HE WAS BOOKED AND SUSPENDED FROM THE FINAL. FOUR MINUTES LATER HE SCORED THE GOAL WHICH TOOK HIS COUNTRY THERE. ONE OF THE BEST MIDFIELDERS OF THE MODERN ERA, HE COULD REALLY DO EVERYTHING. WHEN CHELSEA SIGNED HIM FOUR YEARS LATER IT WAS A DREAM COME TRUE.

GUTI.

SINCE MY GOALKEEPER DAYS I’VE ALWAYS PLAYED IN CENTRAL MIDFIELD AND ALL I WANTED TO DO WAS PLAY LIKE GUTI. HE PLAYED PASSES NO ONE ELSE COULD DREAM OF. THE BACK HEELS, THE SCOOPS, THE IMAGINATION…HE WAS PURE MAGIC AND PROBABLY MY FAVOURITE FOOTBALLER EVER.✨

FRANK LAMPARD.

HOW MUCH WOULD FRANK LAMPARD COST IN 2019? A GUARANTEE OF 20 GOALS A SEASON FROM MIDFIELD. PLENTY OF ASSISTS ( 4 THE HIGHEST IN PREMIER LEAGUE HISTORY). MR CONSISTENCY. NEVER INJURED. OH AND HE CAN RUN A MIDFIELD AND DEFEND TOO. IT’D HAVE TO BE WELL OVER 100M. INCREDIBLE PLAYER AND THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF WHERE HARD WORK CAN GET YOU.

KAKA.

ELEGANCE, SPEED, STRENGTH AND PERFECT CONTROL. HIS LEGACY IS GREAT, BUT YOU HAVE TO WONDER HOW GREATER IT WOULD BE IF NOT FOR INJURIES AND OTHER ISSUES AT REAL MADRID. ONE OF THE GREATS OF THE MODERN ERA, AND ALWAYS DOING IT WITH A TOUCH OF CLASS.

MIROSLAV KLOSE.

GERMANY IN 2002 WEREN’T ALL ABOUT MICHAEL BALLACK. THERE WAS MIROSLAV KLOSE TOO, BURSTING ONTO THE SCENES AS A 23-YEAR-OLD SCORING HEADERS AND DOING FRONT FLIPS, GOING ON TO BECOME THE HIGHEST GOALSCORER IN WORLD CUP HISTORY. WATCHING HIM SCORE MORE AND MORE EVERY FOUR YEARS WAS ONE OF THE BEST STORIES OF EACH WORLD CUP. I LOVE A FORWARD WHO CAN LINK PLAY, DROP DEEP OR PHYSICALLY DOMINATE A DEFENCE. BUT THERE’S SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT A PURE GOALSCORER TOO.

DIDIER DROGBA.

AS MY FINAL STRIKER I FIRST HAD DIEGO MILITO, THEN ALAN SHEARER, BUT I COULDN’T FINISH THIS WITHOUT DIDIER DROGBA. HONESTLY, IT’S PARTLY FOR HIM AS A FOOTBALLER: ULTIMATE BIG-GAME PLAYER, LEADER OF MEN, DOMINANT STRIKER. BUT REALLY I LOVE DROGBA BECAUSE OF THE PERSON. IN 2006 HE MADE A SPEECH TO HIS COUNTRY, LEADING TO A CEASEFIRE AFTER 5 YEARS OF CIVIL WAR IN THE IVORY COAST. HE BUILT A HOSPITAL, A SCHOOL, AND PAID FOR AND CAMPAIGNED FOR SO MANY OTHER CAUSES. DIDIER DROGBA IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A FOOTBALLER.

JORGE CAMPOS.

HE WAS THE FIRST GOALKEEPER I SAW THAT LEFT THE AREA LIKE ANOTHER PLAYER. UNFORTUNATELY, HE PLAYED VERY LITTLE AS FORWARD. EVEN THOUGH HE SCORED A FEW GOALS. BRILLIANT TALENT!

CAFU.

ONE OF THE BEST LEFT BACKS WITH THE SKILL OF DEFENDING AND FORWARD THAT I SAW. THE COUPLE OF WORLD CUP HE WON WERE TOTALLY DESERVED.

CARLOS GAMARRA.

PARAGUAYAN DEFENDER WHO PLAYED IN BRAZIL, ARGENTINA, SPAIN AND ITALY WITH SUCCESS. I AM SURE YOU ALL REMEMBER HIS GAME AGAINST FRANCE IN THE 98 WORLD CUP.

RAFAEL MARQUEZ.

SINCE HE WAS A YOUNG PLAYER HIS MENTALITY WAS AWESOME. HE WON EVERYTHING WITH BARCELONA. GREAT DEFENDER.

ROBERTO CARLOS.

WE ALL SAW HIS GREAT POWER SCORING GREAT GOALS NOT ONLY BY FREE KICKS.

MARCO ETCHEVERRY.

UNDERRATED PLAYER. I ONLY REMEMBER WATCHING HIM DRIBBLING WITH GREAT TECHNIQUE. UNFORTUNATELY, I CAN'T FIND MORE VIDEOS FROM HIM.

JUAN ROMAN RIQUELME.

SINCE HIS DEBUT YOU COULD SEE HE WAS JUST A DIFFERENT PLAYER. HE ACHIEVED EVERYTHING WITH BOCA JUNIORS.

ALEX AGUINAGA.

FOR ME HE IS THE BEST ECUADORIAN PLAYER OF ALL TIME. I WATCHED HIM SCORING GREAT GOALS WITH HIS CLUB NECAXA AND HELPING THEM TO WIN A COUPLE OF MEXICAN LIGAS.

ENZO FRANCESCOLI.

ANOTHER TALENT WHO WON ALL WITH HIS CLUB RIVER PLATE. HE HAD A GREAT TECHNIQUE AND HE POSSESSED GREAT ELEGANCE.

ROMARIO.

HE SEEMED TO PLAY WITH ARROGANCE AND HE WAS THE BEST IN THE WORLD IN THE SMALL AREA. DEFINITELY ONE OF THE BEST PLAYERS THAT I HAVE SEEN. VERY UNDERRATED PLAYER.

RONALDO.

THE FIRST TIME I SAW HIM I WAS SHOCKED BECAUSE OF HIS MAGNIFICENT TECHNIQUE, DRIBBLING, POWER AND SPEED ABILITY. HIS INJURIES DEPRIVED US OF SEEING THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD.

GIANLUIGI BUFFON.

THE NICEST GUY IN FOOTBALL AND A WORLD CLASS KEEPER. THE ONLY WAY TO START, WITH ABIT OF STYLE.

ROBERTO CARLOS.

THOSE FREE KICKS AND THIGHS, NEXT!

CAFU.

HE CHANGED THE POSITION OF RIGHT BACK. FROM MINUTE ONE TO NINETY HE WAS FLYING UP AND DOWN THE WING.

PAOLO MALDINI.

WHAT A LEADER' HE MADE BEING A DEFENDER COOL. CLASS BARNET.

FABIO CANNAVARO.

WHY HAVE JUST ONE TOP ITALIAN DEFENDER WHEN YOU CAN HAVE TWO! PART OF ONE OF MY FAVOURITE EVER TEAMS, THE NINETIES PARMA TEAM. IF YOU SOMEHOW GET PAST MALDINI' YOU WONT BE GETTING PAST FABIO NEXT!

ZINEDINE ZIDANE.

THE COMPLETE MIDFIELDER. HE SEEMED IN TOTAL CONTROL AT ALL TIMES AND NEVER SEEMED TO EVER LOSE THE BALL!

IF YOU CAN THROW UP JUST BEFORE TAKING A PENALTY AND STILL SCORE YOU KNOW YOUR DECENT!

DAVID SILVA.

A MAGICIAN ON THE BALL. EVERYTIME I WATCH HIM PLAY I MUST GO OHHHH! ABOUT TEN TIMES A GAME.

XAVI.

THE HEARTBEAT FROM THE GREATEST EVER CLUB AND INTERNATIONAL TEAMS I HAVE SEEN. A TIKI TAKA GOD.

THAT IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME!

THIERRY HENRY.

I USED TO GO OUT OF MY WAY TO WATCH ARSENAL JUST FOR HENRY. UNSTOPPABLE AT TIMES' JUST ASK JAMIE CARRAGHER AND THE SPURS DEFENCE. I COULD WATCH HENRY OPENING UP TO CURL ONE IN THE TOP CORNER ALL DAY.

RONALDO.

THE BRAZILIAN ONE. ELECTRIC PACE AND THE MOST CLINICAL FINISHER. REMEMBER THAT AMAZING MOMENT WHEN UNTIED FANS WERE CHANTING 'FERGIE SIGN HIM UP' AFTER HE HAD JUST SCORED A HAT TRICK!

LIONEL MESSI.

THE GREATEST.

IS THERE A GREATER SITE IN FOOTBALL THAN MESSI RUNNING WITH THE BALL?

JENS LEHMANN.

HAVE TO HAVE SOMEONE VOCAL/BATSHIT CRAZY BETWEEN THE STICKS.

NELSON VIVAS.

CULT HERO RIGHT BACK.

GARETH MCAULEY.

NORTHERN IRELAND LEGEND EURO 2016

KOLO TOURE.

KOLO KOLO KOLO KOLO KOLO KOLO KOLO TOURE.

MATHIEU FLAMINI.

WHEN ARSENAL GOT TO THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL IN 2006 FLAMINI PLAYED MULTIPLE GAMES AT LEFT BACK AND EXCELLED. PLUS ITS MY TEAM SO SHUT UP!

KEITH GILLESPIE.

GETS PEOPLE OFF THEIR SEATS, GETS A ROUND IN, MY MINI LEAGUE RIVAL FOR FANTASY FOOTBALL...... ALL GOOD!

ROY KEANE.

WITH THIS TEAM NEEDING TIME TO GEL I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE FUNNY TO PUT ROY IN SIMPLY TO WATCH AS HE GETS INCREASINGLY PISSED OFF WITH THE TOURE SONG IN TRAINING.

YAYA TOURE.

YAYA YAYA YAYA YAYA YAYA YAYA YAYA TOURE.

KENNEDY BAKIRCIOGLU.

IF YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW.

NICKLAS BENDTNER.

UNDER APPRECIATED IN HIS TIME AND GREATEST STRIKER OF A GENERATION.

THOMAS STEWART.

THE DENNIS BERGKAMP OF MY HOMETOWN CLUB LARNE FC.

EDWIN VAN DER SAR.

THE WALL.

MARCOS ALONSO.

GOALONSO.

ROBERT HUTH.

SOLID DEFENDING AND GOALS TO BOOT.

LEIGHTON BAINES.

GOALS,ASSITS AND CLEAN SHEETS.

CRISTIANO RONALDO.

MR CONSISTENT.

FRANK LAMPARD AND STEVEN GERRARD'

CAN PLAY TOGETHER!

GARETH BALE.

SPEED MERCHANT WITH A FINISH.

LUIS SUAREZ'

HAD REAL BITE.

SERGIO AGUERO.

94TH MINUTE. AGUEROOOOO

ROBIN VAN PERSIE.

DUTCH DYNAMITE.

FABIEN BARTHEZ.

MY GO TO GOALKEEPER IN MY EARLY FANTASY CAREER, BACK IN THE NEWSPAPER DAYS IN 2000.

GARY NEVILLE.

A POPULAR FOOTBALL STICKER CHOICE FROM MY CHILDHOOD' ENGLAND AND UNITED'S BEST EVER RIGHT BACK.

TONY ADAMS.

GAVE EVERYTHING FOR CLUB AND COUNTRY IN THE 90S, HAD HIM IN MY SAINSBURY'S FIFA 98 ENGLAND COLLECTIBLE COINS.

HARRY MAGUIRE.

THE STANDOUT PLAYER IN A RELEGATED HULL CITY SQUAD, WHEN I HAD A SEASON TICKET IN THE 16/17 SEASON.

MARCOS ALONSO.

THE BEST ATTACKING FULL BACK IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE, ACROSS THE SEASONS IVE BEEN PLAYING FPL.

DAVID BECKHAM.

MY FIRST FOOTBALLING LOVE, FROM THE GUTTER OF FIFA 98 TO THE HIGHS OF ENGLAND CAPTAIN INTO THE 00'S

MOHAMED SALAH.

AN FPL LEGEND AFTER JUST ONE SEASON, ACCUMULATING THE HIGHEST POINTS TOTAL IN FPL HISTORY.

PAUL GASCOIGNE.

THE MYTH AND LEGEND OF MY CHILDHOOD. PROVIDING THE GOALS IN THE FIRST ENGLAND TOURNAMENT I REMEMBER, EURO 96.

CRISTIANO RONALDO.

THE DEBATE RAGES ON OF GOAT STATUS, BUT IT'S THE YOUNG RONALDO WHO'S ALWAYS BEEN IN MY HEART.

SERGIO AGUERO.

MY FAVOURITE PLAYER FROM AN FPL PERSPECTIVE, HE'S HAD MY CAPTAIN ARMBAND MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE AND PROVIDED THE MOST EXPLOSIVE FINISH TO A PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON EVER.

OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER.

THE BEST EVER SUPER SUB, I ALSO REPRESENTED HIM IN CHILDHOOD GAMES, AS OLE SOUNDS QUITE LIKE HOLLY.

GIANLUIGI BUFFON.

AS A FORMER GOALKEEPER MYSELF, I GREW UP WATCHING BUFFON. HE IS MY IDOL, ASWELL AS A BEAUTIFUL MAN!

CAFU.

ONE OF THE FIRST ATTACKING FULLBACKS I REMEMBER. HE WAS AS GOOD GOING FORWARD AS HE WAS DEFENDING.

PAOLO MALDINI.

COOLNESS PERSONIFIED!

LEDLEY KING.

IF IT WASN'T FOR HIS INJURYS LEDLEY COULD HAVE PLAYED FOR ANY CLUB IN THE WORLD. A DEFENDER THAT LOVED TO DEFEND.

ROBERTO CARLOS.

POWER, PACE AND WHEN HE HIT A BALL IT STAYED HIT!

GLENN HODDLE.

A FOOTBALL GENUIS! HE WAS SO FAR AHEAD OF HIS TIME. HAD THE TOUCH AND VISION OF A GOD!

FRANK LAMPARD'

ALWAYS SEEMED TO BE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME. HIS PERFECTLY TIMED RUNS INTO THE OPPOSITION BOX, GOT HIM SO MANY GOALS.

PAUL GASCOIGNE.

AS A SPURS FAN HOW COULD I NOT PUT GAZZA IN MY TEAM. HIS UNPREDICABILITY MADE HIM UNPLAYABLE. OH AND THAT FREEKICK AGAINST ARSENAL IN THE FA CUP SEMI FINAL!

GABRIEL BATISTUTA.

I LOVED BATISTUTA'S 'SHOOT ON SIGHT' POLICY! GIVE HIM HALF A YARD AND HE WOULD SHOOT KNOW MATTER WHERE HE WAS ON THE PITCH.

RONALDO.

POWER, PACE AND COULD FINISH!

LIONEL MESSI.

FOR ME THE GREATEST FOOTBALLER IN MY LIFETIME. HE'S GOT EVERYTHING!

IKER CASILLAS.

SERIAL WINNER.

VINCENT KOMPANY.

GREAT PLAYER, GREAT GUY.

RIO FERDINAND.

THE VERY BEST.

SERGIO RAMOS.

WILL WIN AT ALL COSTS.

DAVID BECKHAM.

ICON OF THE GAME.

XABI ALONSO.

PURE CLASS.

STEVEN GERRARD.

MY FAVOURITE EVER PLAYER.

DAVID SILVA.

THE ULTIMATE TEAM PLAYER.

THIERRY HENRY.

EXPLOSIVE AND DEADLY.

FERNANDO TORRES.

LIVED THE DREAM.

RONALDINHO.

UNTOUCHABLE MAGICIAN.

PETER SCHMEICHEL.

IVE NEVER, BEFORE OR SINCE, SEEN A KEEPER WHO I FELT SO CERTAIN WAS A FAVOURITE IN ONE ON ONE SITUATIONS. THE GREAT DANE WAS CERTAINLY THAT AND HIS COMMAND OF THE DEFENCE WITH THAT FAMOUS BARK MADE HIM A MUST HAVE BETWEEN THE STICKS.

PAOLO MALDINI.

QUITE SIMPLY, MALDINI IS THE MOST NATURALLY GIFTED DEFENDER I HAVE EVER SEEN. HE COULD TACKLE MORE CLEANLY THAN ANY OTHER FOOTBALLER IN HISTORY AND HAD THE BALL DISTRIBUTION SKILLS TO ENSURE HE COULD DO SOMETHING WORTHWHILE EVERYTIME HE WON BACK POSSESSION.

FRANCO BARESI.

BARESI WAS THE BEATING HEART OF THE 1980S MILAN DEFENCE AND AS SUCH, OF THE TEAM. HE CARRIED ON THE TRADITION OF GREAT ITALIAN DEFENCE WITH A CONTRADICTORY MIX OF GRACE AND BITE AND THERE WAS NO OTHER CHOICE FOR THE CENTREOF MY DEFENCE.

TOMMY GEMMELL.

PERHAPS NOT WELL KNOWN TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT WELL VERSED IN SCOTTISH FOOTBALL HISTORY, TOMMY GEMMELL WAS THE ULTIMATE FULL BACK. THE ROBERTO CARLOS OR CAFU OF HIS DAY, HE WAS ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE AS MUCH IN ATTACK AS IN DEFENCE. MODERN FULL BACKS OFTEN DRIVE THE SWITCH IN PLAY FROM DEFENCE TO ATTACK. TOMMY WAS DOING IT 50 YEARS BEFORE IT WAS EVEN A CONCEPT.

JOHAN CRUYFF.

HE'S OFTEN DESCRIBED AS THE MOST INFLUENTIAL INDIVIDUAL IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL AND IT'S EASY TO SEE WHY. CRUYFFPOSSESSED DAZZLING SKILL AND WAS THE LYNCH PIN OF THE GREAT AJAX, BARCELONA AND NETHERLANDS TEAMS OF THE 1970S AND 80S. HIS IMPACT WAS NO LESS FELT AFTER HIS PLAYING DAYS, WHERE HE CONTINUED TO EVOLVE THE TOTAL FOOTBALL PHILOSOPHY.

ANDRES INIESTA.

HE'S PERHAPS THE LEAST 'FLASHY' PLAYER IN THIS TEAM BUT HE'S NO LESS IMPORTANT. INIESTA HAS EVERYTHING REQUIRED OF A MODERN FOOTBALLER. HE HAS UNRIVALLED VISION ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD, ONE WHICH MADE HIM A PIVOTAL PART OF THE TIKI TAKA FOOTBALL OF THE GREAT BARCELONA SIDE OF THE LATE NOUGHTIES AND EARLY 2010S.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE.

I DON'T THINK THERE IS A MORE GRACEFUL PLAYER IN THIS 11. ZIZOU HAD AN ALMOST BALLETIC POISE WHEN CONTROLLING ANDRUNNING WITH THE BALL, AS WELL AS THE BEST FIRST TOUCH OF ANY PLAYER I'VE EVER WITNESSED.

JIMMY JOHNSTONE.

LITTLE JINKY WAS INCREDIBLE. PLAYERS ARE OFTEN DESCRIBED AS APPEARING TO HAVE THE BALL GLUED TO THEIR FEET AND THIS WAS NO MORE SO THE CASE THAN WITH JOHNSTONE. HE WAS A TEAMMATE OF GEMMELL IN THE EUROPEAN CUP WINNING TEAM OF THE 1960S.

RONALDO.

RONALDO WAS PERHAPS THE MOST COMPLETE STRIKER I HAVE EVER SEEN. PACE, POWER AND UNRIVALLED FINISHING ABILITY MEANT THAT SCORING CAME EASY TO HIM AT A STRING OF TOP EUROPEAN CUPS. WHEN MOST OF THE WORLD AGREES HIS STATUS AS THE GREATEST NUMBER 9 IN BRAZIL'S HISTORY, IT'S A GIVEN THAT MAKES HIM ONE OF THE GREATEST NUMBER 9S IN HISTORY.

LIONEL MESSI.

I CAN ONLY DESCRIBE THE ABILITY TO WATCH MESSI'S ENTIRE PLAYING CAREER AS A PRIVILEGE. IT'S NOT OFTEN YOU FEEL LUCKY TO BE ALIVE TO WITNESS THE GREATNESS FOOTBALLER PLAYING IN FRONT OF YOU, IN THE CASE OF MESSI, THAT'S UNDOUBTEDLY THE CASE FOR ME. I'LL ALWAYS BE ABLE TO SAY I SAW MESSI PLAY. AND THAT IS NOTHING SHORT OF AN HONOUR.

GABRIEL BATISTUTA.

MY FINAL PLACE WAS RESERVED FOR THE ONE PLAYER WHO MADE ME FALL IN LOVE WITH FOOTBALL IN THE FIRST PLACE. I ABSOLUTELY COULD NAME OTHER PLAYERS WITH MORE ABILITY OR TALENT, BUT FEW OF THEM MADE ME FEEL ABOUT FOOTBALL THE WAY BATIGOL DID. HE WAS THE ULTIMATE STRIKER. LIKE A SUPERHERO OR SOMETHING OUT OF A VIDEO GAME, HE SEEMED ABLE TO BLAST THE BALL IN FROM ANYWHERE.

BERNARD LAMA.

LARMA WAS ONE OF THE MOST INTRIGUING GOALKEEPERS IVE EVER SEEN. WITH CAT-LIKE REFLEXES THAT PRODUCED SOME OF THE MOST UN-SAVABLE SAVES, HE HAD TO BE ONE OF THE GREATEST. LAMA ALSO HAD THE ABILITY TO READ IN-SWINGING AND OUT-SWINGING CROSSES.

ROBERTO CARLOS.

TO BE AN ATTACKING FULL-BACK, YOU NEED STRENGTH, PACE, ENDURANCE AND ABILITY TO READ THE GAME. ROBERTO CARLOS GOT ALL OF THE ABOVE AND MORE. HIS CROSSES WERE 'WHIPS' INSIDE OF HIS FOOT AND 'ZINGS' OUTSIDE OF HIS FOOT. OH, AND THE STUNNING GOALS WITH POWER, PACE AND AIR-DEFYING CURLERS. PEOPLE WOULD ARGUE MARCELO HAS BETTER QUALITY BUT I WOULD HAVE TO GO WITH RC AS HE WAS ONE OF MY CHILD.

ALESSANDRO NESTA.

ALESSANDRO NESTA WAS A SOLID ALL-AROUND DEFENDER. FOR A LITTLE WHILE HE WAS PLAYING FULL-BACK AND DID SHOW HIS KNOWLEDGE OF SETTING UP THE ATTACKS FROM THE FLANKS. NESTA WAS A TYPE OF CENTRAL DEFENDER THAT EVERY TEAM WANTED AS HE WAS RELIABLE WITH HIS TIMELY TACKLES BUT ALSO EXTREMELY ORGANIZED. BEFORE FANTASY FOOTBALL DAYS, NESTA HAD TO BE MY FIRST PURCHASE IN CHAMPIONSHIP MANAGER BACK IN THE EARLY 2000S.

FABIO CANNAVARO.

IF I HAD NESTA, I ALSO NEEDED TO INCLUDE CANNAVARO. THIS GUY WAS A TOP TOP CAPTAIN FOR VARIOUS CLUBS AND OF COURSE FOR THE WORLD CUP WINNING TEAM OF 2006. HIS ABILITY TO READ PLAYS IS SECOND TO NONE. AT ONLY 175 CM, HE WAS ABLE TO LEAP AND WIN HEADERS OVER TALL STRIKERS. DID WE MENTION THAT HE WAS ONLY THE THIRD DEFENDER TO HAVE WON THE BALLON D'OR?

CLAUDE MAKELELE.

I CAN'T THINK OF A BETTER DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER THAN MAKELELE, OTHER THAN KANTE. IF YOU NEED YOUR MIDFIELDERS AND FULL-BACKS TO GO ON A FULL ATTACK, YOU NEED CLAUDE ON YOUR TEAM. IF YOUR OPPONENT IS 'PARKING THE BUS' YOU ALSO NEED CLAUDE ON YOUR TEAM TO HELP DRILL THE DEFENSIVE LINE WITH HIS PIN-POINT CHANNEL PASSES. CAN'T HAVE THIS GREATEST LINEUP WITHOUT CLAUDE.

STEVEN GERRARD.

EVERY TEAM NEEDS A BOX TO BOX MIDFIELDER AND STEVEN GERRARD TOPS IT. NO BIAS HERE BUT STEVIE G IS DEFINITELY THE MOST COMPLETE MIDFIELDER, A TEAM PLAYER AND A GREAT LEADER. A TRUE DEFINITION OF AN ENGLISH PLAYER AND THEN SOME. DO YOU REMEMBER HIS GOALS VERSUS MAN UNITED AND VARIOUS MERSEYSIDE DERBIES?

RONALDINHO.

ONE OF THE LEGENDS THAT HAD CREATED HIS OWN GAME. RONALDINHO MADE BRAZILIAN 'GINGA' HIS VERY OWN. THE SKILLS, THE MOVES HE CREATED THEM AND RECREATED THEM ON THE PITCH TIME AND TIME AGAIN. LET'S NOT FORGET HIS ABILITY TO CHANGE THE GAME BY HIMSELF. CAN YOU IMAGINE THE STRONG BARCA TEAM WITHOUT RONALDINHO?

ZINEDINE ZIDANE.

ZIDANE'S FLAIR AND SILKY SMOOTH DRIBBLES BEFORE DECISIVE PASSES INTO SPACE MADE IT FUN TO WATCH. I CHOSE ZIDANE OVER INIESTA ONLY BECAUSE HE WAS A KEY PLAYER IN AN ALREADY STACKED GALATICOS WITH THE LIKES OF RONALDO, FIGO, BECKS, RAUL. ZIDANE'S STYLE OF PLAY IS A CONSTANT REMINDER OF HOW THIS IS CALLED 'THE BEAUTIFUL GAME'. ZIDANE'S FINEST MOMENT IN HIS PLAYING WOULD HAVE TO BE FRANCE 98 AND ITS FINAL.

LEO MESSI.

EVERYONE KNOWS THIS GUY. HE HAS EVERYTHING IN HIS GAME. MESSI CAN CREATE GOALS OUT OF NOTHING. HOW MANY MATCH WINNING GOALS DOES HE HAVE ON RECORD? SIMPLY THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD.

RONALDO 'O FENOMENO'.

RONALDO HAD EVERYTHING... FLAIR, SKILLS, TECHNIQUES AND GOALS. HIS ABILITY TO TAKE PLAYERS ON ESPECIALLY WHEN PLAYING IN SERIE A WITH INTER WHERE OPPONENTS WERE TOP CLASS DEFENDERS, UNREAL. WHAT MOST PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE ABOUT RONALDO IS THAT HE WAS A HUMBLE TEAM PLAYER WHICH ALLOWED HIM TO INVOLVE HIS TEAMMATES IN THE ATTACK WHEN HE WAS PROPERLY MARKED AND DOUBLED UP.

ROBBIE FOWLER.

I LEFT OUT THIERRY HENRY FOR ROBBIE FOWLER. YES, I TRIED TO AVOID ANY BIAS BUT ROBBIE AT HIS PRIME AS A STRIKER WAS UNPLAYABLE. NOT TO COMPARE HIM TO HENRY BUT I HAD TO PICK FOWLER FOR HIS INSTINCTS AS OPPOSED TO DOMINANCE ANDTROPHIES. HE WAS CARRYING A LIVERPOOL TEAM IN THE EARLY 90S WITH SHEAR NUMBER OF GOALS. 71 GOALS IN 3 SEASONS.

GIANLUCA PAGLIUCA.

PAGLIUCA IS ONE OF THE GREATEST GOALKEEPERS IN THE SERIE A 90S ERA. FAST RESPONSE, GREAT POSITION PLACEMENT AND THE ABILITY TO READ OPPONENT'S PENALTY KICKS. WERE JUST SOME OF THE CAPABILITIES THAT MADE HIM GREAT. HE WAS ALSO IN THE SAMPDORIA SQUAD WHEN THEY WON THE SERIE A CHAMPIONSHIP IN 1991 .

JAVIER ZANETTI.

LOYAL, CHARISMATIC, FAST, GOOD LEADERSHIP. ALL OF WHICH MADE HIM BOTH A LEGEND AND AN ICON IN INTER'S BACK LINE. HE ACCOMPLISHED SO MUCH WITH INTER AND EVEN IN THE LATTER STAGES OF HIS CAREER HE WAS SUCCESSFULLY LEADING INTER TO ACHIEVE THE TREBLE IN 2010S.

FRANCO BARESI.

ONE OF THE BEST AC MILAN DEFENDERS IN HISTORY. HIS ABILITY TO LEAD THE TEAM AND TO READ THE OPPONENT'S GAME MADE HIM A SACRED LEGEND IN AC MILAN HISTORY.

ALESSANDRO COSTACURTA.

BARESI'S PARTNER IN MILAN'S DREAM TEAM ERA. HE WAS AN UNSUNG HERO BUT HIS EXISTENCE ON THE FIELD ALWAYS MADE SURE HE HAD A GREAT INFLUENCE ON THE TEAM.

PAOLO MALDINI.

MALDINI STARTED HIS STORY IN MILAN AT THE RIGHT TIME. HE GREW RAPIDLY WITH GREAT PLAYERS IN MILAN, A PLAYER WHO ONLY WORE RED AND BLACK HIS ENTIRE CAREER. HE WAS A PLAYER WITH AN EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY, NO WONDER SIR ALEX FERGUSON CALLED HIM AS THE STRONGEST OPPONENT HIS TEAM HAS EVER FACED.

DIDIER DESCHAMPS.

A DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER WHO HAS A COMPLETE ACHIEVEMENT THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER AT CLUB AND COUNTRY. ONE OF THEPLAYERS WHO HAD INTELLIGENCE AND EXTRAORDINARY FIGHTING SPIRIT. HE ALSO BECAME A PLAYER WHO SUCCESSFULLY ACHIEVED WINNING THE WORLD CUP BOTH AS A PLAYER AND COACH.

RUI COSTA.

PORTUGUESE PEOPLE AND THE WORLD KNOW HIM AS 'THE MAESTRO' EVEN RICARDO KAKA CALLS HIM THE PROFESSOR. HIS MOVEMENTSAROUND THE FIELD WERE SO ELEGANT EVEN THOUGH THEY LOOKED A LITTLE BIT SLOW. HIS ASSISTS AND PASSING WERE SO PRECISE. NO WONDER CRISTIANO RONALDO, HIS JUNIOR IN THE PORTUGAL NATIONAL TEAM MADE HIM HIS FAVOURITE PLAYER.

PAVEL NEDVED.

NEDVED ALWAYS PLAYED GREAT IN EVERY MATCH. HE LOOKED LIKE HE NEVER TIRED OF RUNNING. HIS SPEED WAS EXTRAORDINARY. HIS SHOOTING WAS REALLY STRONG AND HE HAD A GREAT DRIBBLING TECHNIC. BEHIND HIS MODEST FIGURE OUTSIDE THE FIELD HE WAS A PLAYER WHO AMAZED WITH HIS ACTIONS ON THE FIELD.

ROBERTO BAGGIO.

ROBERTO BAGGIO WAS A FANTASISTA WHO IS MUCH LOVED IN ITALY. EVEN IF HIS CAREER WAS OFTEN DISTURBED BY KNEE INJURIES, HIS CAREER DIDNT FADE OUT. WHEN HE'S ON THE FIELD HE WAS LIKE AN ARTIST WITH HIS IMAGINATION THROUGH HIS ACTIONS. HE HAD THE COMPLETE ABILITY AS A FOOTBALLER.

RONALDO NAZARIO.

RONALDO MADE EVERY MATCH LIKE A PARTY. WHEN A BALL WAS AT HIS FOOT WE ALWAYS FELT ENTERTAINED. HE HAD A GREAT ABILITY TO DRIBBLE AND WAS A THREAT FOR EVERY GOALKEEPER. WITH ALL HIS ACTION ON THE FIELD, NO WONDER HE WAS CALLED 'EL FENOMENO' .

GABRIEL BATISTUTA.

HE MIGHT NOT BE AS GREAT AS MESSI OR MARADONA AND BE A PLAYER WHO SAW FOOTBALL AS A JOB. HOWEVER BEHIND ALL THAT HE WAS A GREAT FORWARD. A STRONG SHOT, AN INSTINCT FOR SCORING GOALS. HE WAS A NIGHTMARE FOR EVERY OPPONENT IN THE PENALTY AREA. HE WAS THE GREATEST FORWARD WHO'S EVER PLAYED IN SERIE A AND THE ARGENTINA NATIONAL TEAM.

PETER SCHMEICHEL.

QUITE SIMPLY, THE GREATEST GK OF THE PREMIER LEAGUE ERA AND A ONE MAN IMPENETRABLE WALL WHO RAISED THE BAR FORWHAT COULD AND SHOULD BE EXPECTED FROM A WORLD CLASS GOALKEEPER. TO SEE HIM BEAR DOWN ON AN OPPOSING PLAYER, EXPANDING THAT ALREADY HUGE FRAME OUT INTO THE PATENTED STARFISH OF NET SMOTHERING LIMBS, YOU ALWAYS FELT THE OPPOSITION PLAYER WAS SECOND BEST.

STEVE NICOL.

SOLID. RELIABLE. SURPRISINGLY PROLIFIC FOR A DEFENDER IN AN ERA WHEN THE MARAUDING FULL-BACK WASN'T YET A THING.

DENIS IRWIN.

LIKE NICOL ON THE OTHER FLANK. ALMOST NEVER A BAD GAME. STRONG IN THE TACKLE. NO FUSS OR FANFARE. DEADLY FROM 12 YARDS. EVERYTHING YOU WANT IN AN OLD SCHOOL FULL-BACK AND MORE.

MATTIAS SAMMER.

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP WINNER. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNER. BALLON D'OR WINNER. IN A TWO YEAR PERIOD SAMMER WAS, AS THELAST BASTION OF THE NOW SADLY DEFUNCT LIBERO, THE GREATEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD. A RAMPAGING POWERHOUSE WHO BROKETHE LINES FROM DEEP AND MADE DORTMUND AND GERMANY TICK. INJURY CRUELLY ENDED HIS CAREER AND PROBABLY DENIED HIM A PLACE AT THE TABLE OF THE PANTHEON OF ALL-TIME GREATS.

PAOLO MALDINI.

'II CAPITANO'. THE BEST DEFENDER THERE EVER WAS, OR EVER WILL BE. AS A ONE CLUB AC MILAN LEGEND HE RE-DEFINED AND ELEVATED THE ART OF DEFENDING FOR 25 ILLUSTRIOUS YEARS. DEVILISHLY HANDSOME BASTARD TO BOOT.

JAAP STAM.

THE DEFENSIVE DESTROYER NEXT TO MALDINI'S ARTISTE. STAM POSSESSED THE SPEED, STRENGTH AND FEROCITY OF TACKLE YOU'D EXPECT FROM ANY WORLD CLASS CENTRE BACK AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME. BUT TO ALSO WATCH HIS CHARACTERISTICALLY DUTCH UNDERSTANDING OF SPACE AND POSITIONAL SENSE MERGEWITH HIS EASE ON THE BALL WAS AKIN TO OBSERVING A HENCHMAN FROM DIE HARD 2 UNEXPECTEDLY PERCH IN FRONT OF A STEINWAY AND FLUENTLY COMPOSE A PIANO SONATA.

ROY KEANE.

AT HIS PEAK, CAPABLE OF SINGLE HANDEDLY TAKING A GAME BY THE SCRUFF OF THE NECK LIKE NO OTHER. SEE (MAN UTD VS JUVENTUS CL SEMI-FINAL 1999) DIVISIVE. UNCOMPROMISING. BRILLIANT. KEANE GAVE NO QUARTER AND EXPECTED THOSE IN HIS COLOURS TO DO THE SAME.

PAUL SCHOLES.

THE FOOTBALLERS FOOTBALLER. ANY OTHER NATION IN THE WORLD WOULD HAVE BUILT A TEAM AROUND HIM. HE WAS ENGLAND'S PLANTINI, BUT INSTEAD, LIKE HODDLE BEFORE HIM, THE LONG SHADOW OF WING COMMANDER CHARLES REEP AND THE NATIONS ANTIQUATED OBSESSIONWITH THE PHYSICALITY OF A BOX TO BOX MIDFIELDER LOOMED OVER HIS INTERNATIONAL CAREER. BUT WITHIN THE WALLS OF OLD TRAFFORD, AMONGST THE GREATEST TEAM OF THE PREMIER LEAGUE ERA, HE WAS A GOLDEN GOLD.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE.

WORTH HIS PLACE IN THE TEAM JUST FOR SCORING THE GREATEST VOLLEY OF ALL TIME (SIT DOWN, MARCO V.B) INCONSISTENT? POSSIBLY. BUT WHEN YOU CAN DOMINATE ON THE BIG STAGE WITH SUCH ELEGANCE (FRANCE 98 WORLD CUP FINAL - SIT DOWN, RONALDO) ONE CAN FORGIVE PATCHES OF INCONSISTENCY IN A GLITTERING CAREER. UNPLAYABLE AT EURO 2000. HIS CRANIALLY DELIVERED COUP-DE-GRAS ON MATERAZZI IN 2006 IS EITHER A SAD TRANSGRESSION OR FITTING END TO THE ULTIMATE MERCURIAL TALENT WITHA PENCHANT FOR THE DARK SIDE. TOO OFTEN IT ENDS NOT WITH A BANG, BUT WITH A WHIMPER. NOT FOR ZISSOU.

ERIC CANTONA.

MY FAVOURITE PLAYER OF ALL TIME. FIRST NAME ON THIS, OR ANY, TEAM SHEET.

GABRIEL BATISTUTA.

BACK IN SERIE A HE WAS THE POSTER BOY OF WORLD FOOTBALL, BATIGOL WAS RESPLENDENT IN THAT ICONIC PURPLE FIORENTINA KIT. SCORING SUBLIME GOALS WHAT SEEMED LIKE EVERY SINGLE WEEK. MORE THAN ANY OTHER PLAYER THE ONE I WISHED TURN UP AT UNITED. OR AT THE VERY LEAST IN ENGLAND.

MANUEL NEUER.

AMAZING ALL ROUND KEEPER AND I BELIEVE HE IS THE GOAT AMONG GOALIES. ONE OF THOSE RARE KEEPERS WHOM YOU JUST LOVE TO WATCH. THAT SWEEPER PERFORMANCE AGAINST ALGERIA IN 2014 LITERALLY WON GERMANY THE WORLD CUP.

CESAR AZPILICUETA.

ONE OF THE BEST 1 V 1 DEFENDERS AND BLEEDS CHELSEA BLUE THROUGHOUT. HIS PASSION AND WORK RATE IS TERRIFIC. I LOVE YOU DAVE.

MATS HUMMELS.

AT HIS PRIME, HE REALLY WAS THE COMPLETE DEFENDER. HE CAN DO IT ALL, GOAL LINE CLEARANCES TO STARTING ATTACKS. AND HE'S QUITE EASY ON THE EYES ASWELL, RIGHT?

ANDY ROBERTSON.

HE HAS NOT PROVEN MUCH, BUT I LOVE HIM NONETHELESS. JUST AN ORIGINAL GUYS WHO'S COME FROM THE BOTTOM WHO HAS PLAYED IN A CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL AND CAPTAINS HIS NATION. GO ROBBO!

SANTI CAZORLA.

ABSOLUTE MAGICIAN WITH THE BALL AT HIS FEET. TERRIBLY UNDERRATED AND WAS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE WORLD AT HIS POSITIONIN THIS PRIME. SAD TO SEE HIS CAREER CUT SHORT DUE TO INJURIES.

FRANK LAMPARD.

AS A CHELSEA FAN THIS MAN HAS TO BE AN IDOL. OH FRANKIE, THE GOALS YOU SCORED WHEN WE NEEDED THEM MOST. MY FAVOURITEPLAYER OF ALL TIME.

XAVI HERNANDEZ.

I THINK THIS MAN IS UNDERRATED ASWELL. HIS SENSE OF SPACE AND POSITION WAS UNPARALLELED AND THE CALMNESS HE BROUGHTWAS SOOTHING TO WATCH. TRULY ONE OF A KIND.

ANDREA PIRLO.

OOZING WITH TECHNIQUE, HE MADE UP FOR HIS LACK OF PHYSIQUE BY THOUSANDS OF IMPECCABLE TOUCHES AND PASSES. ALWAYS INCONTROL OF EVERYTHING AROUND HIM. AND THOSE FREE KICKS WERE UNBELIEVABLE ASWELL.

SON HEUNG-MIN.

HOW CAN YOU HATE THIS GUY? ALWAYS SMILING, AND I REPEAT, ALWAYS. NOT A BAD PLAYER EITHER. ABSOLUTE GEM.

LIONEL MESSI.

THIS MAN HAS PROVIDED ME WITH MORE JOY THAN ANY OTHER HUMAN. I'VE SEEN HIS GAME ON YOUTUBE AND LIVE FOR THOUSANDS OFHOURS AND I'M STILL NOT SATISFIED. ENJOY THE GOAT WHILE YOU CAN PEOPLE.

EDEN HAZARD.

THIS PICK IS DUE TO MY CHELSEA BIAS, BUT HE HAS LIGHTENED UP THE CLUB SINCE HIS ARRIVAL. AN UNBELIEVABLE PLAYER, AND A REALLY LOVABLE GUY OFF THE PITCH ASWELL. DON'T LEAVE US EDEN.

ANGELO PERUZZI.

THE 90S WAS PERUZZI'S IN ITALY. HE WAS COLOSSUS AT THE BACK FOR JUVENTUS AND WAS PART OF THE 2006 WORLD CUP WINNING SQUAD.

JAVIER ZANETTI.

INCREDIBLE LONGEVITY AND IN A VERY CLOSE CONTEST, BEATS OFF COMPETITION FROM CAFU AND LILIAN THURAM.

ALESSANDRO NESTA.

CONTROVERSIAL BUT, AS FRANCO BARESI RETIRED IN 1997, I JUST DON'T REMEMBER HIM THAT WELL. NESTA WAS ALREADY LAZIO CAPTAIN AT 21 . SUPERB ON THE BALL, AS WELL.

FABIO CANNAVARO.

THIS WAS JUST THE START OF A WONDERFUL CAREER. ALESSANDRO NESTA AND COSTACURTA WERE UNLUCKY TO MISS OUT, BUT CANNAVARO WAS JUST A CLASS ACT.

PAOLO MALDINI.

SIMPLY THE GREATEST LEFT BACK OF ALL TIME.

MARCEL DESAILLY.

CRIMINALLY UNDERRATED. MOVED TO CENTRAL DEFENCE LATER IN HIS CAREER, BUT ALMOST EARNED THIS PLACE WITH HIS PERFORMANCE AGAINST BARCELONA ALONE.

ROBERTO BAGGIO.

IN MANY WAYS, HE WAS TOO GOOD. ITALIAN MANAGERS WERE USED TO HAVING PLAYERS THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WOULD GET FROM. BUT BAGGIO WAS AN UNPREDICTABLE GENIUS. FOR ME, ITALY'S GREATEST EVER PLAYER.

MANUEL RUI COSTA.

AN ICONIC PLAYER AT FIORENTINA. A SUPERB PLAYERMAKER WITH A GREAT EYE FOR A GOAL.

ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO.

POSSIBLY THE MOST ICONIC PLAYER OF ITALIAN FOOTBALL IN THE 1990S. SCORED SO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF GOALS. ONLY A TERRIBLE KNEE INJURY PREVENTED HIM BECOMING ONE OF THE ALL TIME GREATS.

GABRIEL BATISTUTA.

LOYALTY WAS HIS DOWNFALL AS HE NEVER PLAYED IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE UNTIL HE WAS 30. LETHAL IN FRONT OF GOAL AND WAS NEVER CONTENT AND WAS SO DIFFICULT TO MARK AS HE HAD EVERYTHING.

GEORGE WEAH.

YES, NO RONALDO. HE IS CERTAINLY GOOD ENOUGH, BUT ONLY SPENT TWO 90S SEASONS IN SERIE A. WEAH WAS SUCH A SYMBOLIC FIGURE ON AND OFF THE PITCH AND WON TWO LEAGUE TITLES WITH MILAN.

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