My Perfect Player #8
Brain & eyes – Xavi
The notion of a footballing brain is a very interesting one. It’s possibly one of the most important attributes of a footballer – what pass to pick, what player to pass it to and when. For me, I would combine the two together because there is one player that not only has a fantastic football brain, he also has great vision. We all remember that famous Daily Mail article: “The best players of the world (and Xavi)” – well, Xavi has been shoving that headline back in their face ever since. Xavi has been at the fulcrum of both Barcelona’s and Spain’s midfield, his passing statistics are a joy to behold. His ball retention is second to none, rarely are his passes misplaced – it is as if he has a telepathic relationship with the players he plays with and can spot their forward movement in a split second. Always at the heart of Barcelona’s play – Xavi has been blessed with great vision and a great footballing brain.
Head – Steve Bruce
It’s time to go old school for this one. Firstly, here’s the back story. Your team is trailing 1-0 with four minutes to go but the end of that four minutes and the subsequent added time, your team wins 2-1. Well, two towering headers from Steve Bruce saw Manchester United steal all three points off Sheffield Wednesday. I probably haven’t done it justice, but you can’t watch it here. Bruce at the time averaged about one goal every 10 games, the majority of them being big, brave, bold and powerful headers.
Mouth – Roy Keane
Despite playing for Manchester United, Roy Keane has never been one of my favourite players but one thing that you can’t accuse Keane of is lacking passion. The Irishman dominated the midfield and ruled it with an iron fist. His competitiveness and aggressiveness meant that you would never want to get on the wrong side of his fiery temper. And boy did he have a temper. There are many pictures that display this – a red faced Keane snarling in the faces of referees and opponents alike.
Lungs – Dani Alves
Possibly one of the most-hardworking defenders, perhaps not widely renowned for his defensive qualities – he’s more often than not found in the opposition half. His lung busting runs from right back at the opposition are something to be feared.
Left foot – Ian Harte
Now, I’ve always been a sucker for a dead-ball specialist which is why I choose Ian Harte, perhaps not the most conventional choice, but his power and accuracy in a dead-ball situation was something to behold, especially in the early 00’s for Leeds United. At 33, he’s still got it. Two seasons ago, he was Carlisle’s top-scorer with 18 goals, which saw him move to Reading where he scored 10 goals last season.
Right foot – David Beckham
Having grown up in the early 90’s there has been one goal that defined David Beckham and pushed him right into the spotlight. It was THAT goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon. My words won’t do it justice, but a video of it here, should do the job.