One of the things that I get asked about a lot is to make my team of the 11 best players I have played with. I have done it a few times before, but I keep changing my mind on certain positions. Now I have put some thought into it and I will try again:)
Into the consideration is not only how good a player he is, but also as a person and how important he was to me while I was playing with him. Some positions are very easy, while some are difficult to choose only one in that position. I have been very fortunate and I feel very lucky to have been able to play with these amazing players.
Keeper: Pepe Reina
Easy choice. I have payed with some great keepers, but Pepe is different class. Amazing with his feet, great passer, amazing shot stopper. And he is such a great person. Always smiling and joking. Best keeper by far.
Right Back: Steve Finnan
Mr Consistent. So calm and relaxed it was a joke. He never looked like he was stressed or nervous. Great with both feet. Not the most offensive right back, but he rarely made a mistake. Really enjoyed playing with him.
Centre Back: Jamie Carragher
He tells you when to press, when to go, when to smash, when to tackle. Some players you don’t hear because of the crowd but his voice you can hear through everything else, it was irritating on the ears but in a good way. I remember a game against Blackburn when he broke his leg. He didn’t want to be carried off, he wanted to walk off or carry on playing! He was a proper defender and the best I ever played with. Also a great passer with both feet. True legend. Greta guy.
Centre Back: Sami Hyypia
Had a great right and left foot. Yes he was tall, but still amazing in the air. Didn’t have much pace but the way he read the game was different class. His understanding of the game was amazing. Scored some crucial goals. Bad taste of music, having dinner at his house he always put on some finnish heavy metal. Awful! One of the nicest guy I have ever met in Football. Took really good care of me when I came.
Left Back: John Arne “Ginger” Riise
As I have been fortunate to have played most games at every club I have played for, I had to pick myself. No chance I would take myself out of this team.
I am going for a diamond in the middle. One holding midfielder, 2 players on each side of him, and one offensive midfielder.
Holding midfielder: Mascherano
He is the dog. I know the opposition hated playing against him because he is always on your heels, always tackling you. I struggled with him and Didi Hamann because I think Didi is the perfect holding midfielder. He is so calm and reads the game perfectly. But I think Mascherano had more to his game, could go forward more and be more of a killer in that role. He covered so much ground and was a real team player. The job he did was immense!
Inside Right Midfield: Daniele De Rossi
Very calm, easy going and sees openings and tackles that not many players see. He was probably the only player who spoke English when I came to Roma and he helped me adapt into the team. He will go down as one of Roma’s best players. Great passer. He could see a pass that wasn’t really there. Loves his club and plays with his heart.
Inside Left Midfield: Xabi Alonso
He is the pass master. Nobody can pass the ball like him. I remember his debut at Anfield, it was 39 minutes before he made a wrong pass. He is an unbelievable player. When I played left wing, he always found the pass to me. Could tackle as well. Great strike also. But he will always be the best passer of the ball I have ever played with.
Offensive Midfield: Steven Gerrard
The best player I have played with without a doubt. I am really privileged to have played with him because he will go down as one of the greatest of all time. The game that comes to my mind is the Milan game, he was probably playing right-back, centre-back, right wing, left wing, centre midfield and striker. His goal gave us belief and you could see the energy he got, and gave the fans, from scoring that goal. He is an amazing person also, he always supports you and backs you up. He was the perfect captain. A player that had everything when I was there.
Striker: Fernando Torres
He has got a bit of stick since he left Liverpool but while I was there he was a scoring machine and a very good person. He always works hard for the team and never moaned. Scored from every angel possible!! He did what a strike should do, just score goals. Amazing striker. I had some options on this one striker position. Michael Owen, David Trezeguet, Thierry Henry ( played left wing at Monaco for 6 months while I was there only), Robbie Fowler to name a few. But Torres got it. Great striker
Striker: Francesco “The God” Totti
The God of Rome. I have never seen anything like it. Steven Gerrard is very big in Liverpool but it can’t compare to how big Totti is in Rome. As a player he is not quick at 38, but he has the technique, vision and touch that is God’s gift. It was unbelievable to see him in training and play with him. I was lucky to get to know him quite well over the three years at Roma and I could see how important he is to Roma as a club and as a city. A true gentleman that I will never forget I have played with. He always sticks up for you. Always smiling and joking around. Scored some amazing goals, and was just a true legend. When it comes to best players I have played with, him and Gerrard are the top 2.
So here is my team. Not easy!! I know I have left out some amazing players. I saw these players not only on games, but in training and daily life, that’s also one of the reasons they got picked. But I am very happy with my team. I was gonna make a bench, but I can’t. Even that’s difficult.
Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts about my team and if I missed someone.