My Perfect Player #18
Another excellent contribution to the series comes from Mal Bennett, a Liverpool fan who can be found writing on Gasps From The Kop. Hopefully this won’t be the last time you see Mal creeping around the halls of 15YOG!
Brain – Johann Cruyff
I honestly cannot think of anyone I would enjoy watching over and over again for his positioning on the pitch. Every scrap of space was exploited, every movement considered and intellectualised. The game meant everything to Cruyff. Scoring goals wasn’t enough, winning in style, playing a type of football that meant that you had to use your brain first and your body second, was paramount to the result. His continuing success in nurturing the game from the lowest levels in academies will hold Ajax in good stead, as they look to rebuild a stuttering academy.
Head – Marco Van Basten
The AC Milan European Cup wining side of 1989 held a special player, Marco Van Basten. He was prolific with his head. Scoring many goals that run, and indeed throughout his whole career. Anyone who thinks of anybody else as being better with their head is utterly insane. There are only a handful of people who are known for a specific move or talent in football, Cristiano Ronaldo or Juninho for their free kicks, Steve McManaman for his dribbling, Xavi for his assists, Pele for his mazy & hypnotic runs, Maradona for his twists and turns and Van Basten for his aerial prowess.
Eyes – Rio Ferdinand
I hate to put a current Manchester United player in the perfect player list but my word does Rio see things unfolding before they actually do. His reading of the game plan of the opposing side is absolutely sensational. There have been times were I have watched wave after wave of attack just melt away after a crucial intervention fro him. Although growing a bit long in the tooth now, he seems to use the experience to his advantage, and on his day has been the difference for United winning titles/cups.
Mouth – Nobby Stiles
Another from the ’68 European Cup wining side of Manchester United. He won several honours with Manchester United, not as many as some of his team mates. The absolute command he had for any pass he gave to a team mate was superior. If you didn’t do something with that pass then you would bloody hell find out! Modern football doesn’t really have a midfielder who chastises anyone when they lose a ball, the game could certainly use that ‘bulldog’ player.
Lungs – Park Ji Sung
I will get slaughtered for not choosing Dirk Kuyt. But my word! Does Park ever stop? The absolute certainty of any of his performances is that he will give the absolute essence of his soul to gain a win. And what’s more he usually makes a massive difference to the team mentality when brought on. He is a constant source of irritation to sides, like a determined woodworm, gnawing away, burrowing holes in the defensive structure, until WHAM! His relentless running pays off with a goal. A crucial goal normally.
Upper Body Strength – Sol Campbell
He was a massive influence on me growing up. His football once of raw power, brute force in 50/50’s and an unrelenting belief in his own strength to deny anyone the opportunity to score. He belied an athleticism and a reading of the game that didn’t need explosive pace to keep up with attackers. All he needed was the strong arm and the strength to defend. Excellent defender.
Lower Body Strength – Javier Mascherano
The legs on Mascherano are enormous. His pace is frightening when tracking back and tackling attackers. He is a destroyer of play, he breaks apart attacks and let’s the team flow around him. There is a reason that Barcelona paid so much for him, his cover at centre back in the 2011 Champions League final was exemplary in his execution.
Left Foot – Lionel Messi
There isn’t anything I can write about Lionel that hasn’t already been written. What I have witnessed over the last few years have turned my mind inside out. Defenders give him any space to run on the edge of the box at their peril. A delicious slice of free turf and Messi is there to rake a rapid rocket of a shot into the top corner. His wonderful ability is the perfect accompaniment to the next player
Right Foot – Bobby Charlton
Charlton is my favourite footballer of all time. His reading of the game was beyond belief. A World Cup, European Cup, FA Cup & multiple First Division Winner. The panaché with his right foot will always amaze me, long range & short range shots were always goal bound, more often than not, bound for the back of the goal too. His influence in the holy-trinity of Law, Best & himself was so successful, he became the lynchpin of that famous ’68 European Cup winning side. Whenever he got the ball, you knew he was a major threat, so much so that Beckenbauer was told to man mark him in the ’66 World Cup final. For the reason of his devastating right footed long range shots, I choose him.
The player that is made up of all these pieces, is quick on attack, has superb control with both feet, a wicked close range predatory threat and a smashing long range right foot. His mind is constantly assessing the game and reading the tactical ebb and flow, any opposing attack is interpreted before it even begins. A midfield destroyer capable of a killer pass. What a player that would be?