In something slightly different, I thought it’d be fun to list my all time favourite 11 players from my generation of Football. I picked them in a 4-3-3 formation and all of them have been playing since I was born in 1990.
- Gianluigi Buffon – Goalkeeper
He is the one that has pretty much always been the benchmark for any young Goalkeeper to aspire to be when coming through the ranks and he was(and still is) the one that is always at the top of peoples lists of best goalkeepers in the world. The ultimate professional, he is still the first name on the team sheet for Juventus even at the age of 38. Italian football will have a huge gap in their team when he eventually retires. The best possible last line of defence for my ultimate team.
- Dani Alves – Right back
The right back was one of the main reasons why Guardiola’s Barcelona going forward were so feared. Loved his full throttle, relentless sprinting up and down the right hand side for 90 minutes every game and he was a better defender than some people gave him credit for.
- Carles Puyol – Center back
A proper defender. Hard as nails, he was the one that organised, pulled people in to position and gave Pique the bollockings when needed to ensure Barcelona were rock solid whilst Leo & co up front did their jobs. I am very doubtful as to whether Barca would’ve won as many trophies as they did during his time at the club if he wasn’t there.
- Ledley King – Center back
Will be remembered mostly for his injury record, but ex pro’s and pundits alike will agree with me when I say he was arguably England’s best centre half when he was fit. He had the lot; pace, composure was good with the ball at his feet as well. A huge shame his career ended how it did.
- Ashley Cole – Left back
Yes, he was very un-likeable, but in his prime he was one of the best left backs in the world for several years when he was at Chelsea. One of the best performances I remember from him was when England played Portugal at the 2006 World Cup. He marked Cristiano Ronaldo out of the game and, like Dani Alves, loved to bomb up and down the left hand side, providing extra width from the wing back position. I feel he was a very under-rated defender.
- Sergio Busquets – Defensive Midfielder
The best defensive midfielder of all time. Positionally, tactically and technically perfect, he has arguably been more important to Barcelona over the past 6 years than anyone else. Always in the right place at the right time, the kid who was promoted from the B team as soon as Guardiola was hired as manager is now the best of them all. Criminally under-rated and underappreciated.
- Andres Iniesta – Central Midfield
Legendary. Always gives an 8/10 performance and always shows up in the big games – scoring the winner in the World Cup final, for example. The metronome in Barcelona’s midfield, give him the ball and he’ll find a Barcelona player. The first time Guardiola saw Iniesta, he told Xavi: “You’re going to retire me; he’s going to retire us all.” A genius.
- Xavi – Central Midfield
My favourite footballer of all time. The greatest midfielder of all time. The greatest Spanish footballer of all time. To sum up how good he is, the following quote from Jamie Carragher explains it very well;
“He is the best Spanish player of all time and the finest midfielder of his type I have seen. Growing up, the midfield orchestrators were Lothar Matthaus and Frank Rijkaard. We don’t make players of that type in Britain. Xavi, however, is on another level.”
We will never see a midfielder like him again.
- Ronaldinho – Right/Left wing
In his prime, he made everyone smile when you watched him. One of those rare players who would glide past anyone who tried to tackle him – his control, pace, dribbling and finishing were just on another level. Real Madrid fans simply don’t applaud Barcelona players. They did for Ronaldinho.
- Lionel Messi – Left/Right wing
The greatest player of all time. At the time of writing this, Messi has just scored the 37th hattrick of his career against Manchester City in the Champions League. Averaging pretty much a goal a game throughout his career at Barcelona, he has done it at every level he’s played at; League, Cup, Champions League and World Cup. There will never be another one like him.
- Fernando Torres – Striker
No, not the Fernando Torres whose career stalled at Chelsea and AC Milan, the Fernando Torres who signed for Liverpool in July 2007. The one who scored 65 goals in 102 games. At Liverpool, he was arguably the best out and out striker in world football. Lightning quick with a lethal finish, he tore defenders to shreds. The way his career panned out is one of the stranger mysteries in European football over the last decade, but he was outrageously good for a couple of years in the late 00’s.
Manager – Jurgen Klopp.
I have huge respect for Pep Guardiola and how he changed the way football fans and journalists see football all over Europe during his legendary spell in charge of Barcelona.
However, Jurgen Klopp’s personality, style and his championship winning Borussia Dortmund team set the benchmark for the way I now look at Football (and also why I flew out to Dortmund by myself to watch his team play once). The way that Dortmund team destroyed Europe’s elite for a couple of years in 2011-2013 was something I’ve never seen before. He propelled players who were relatively unknown such as Robert Lewandowski and Ilkay Gundogan in to the best in their positions in the world. The way he transformed Dortmund is almost identical to what he is now doing at Liverpool and I would not be surprised in the slightest if he repeats the success he had in Germany over here within the next few years. The main man.
Well, that’s my all-time favourite 11 players, put in to some sort of formation which I feel would suit them all. How do you think this team would do? Who would you put in your all time XI? I’d be really interested to see who you’d pick and why. Interact with me on my Twitter @eastterrace00, or leave a comment on this blog!