My Dream Eleven…

Me@PSG

I have decided for this Friday night to announce my favourite eleven players that I have personally seen play in person.

I’ve chosen not to pick any players from my childhood club. If I allowed it then Ally McCoist, Brian Laudrup and Andy Goram would be in there.

The team is in a 4-3-3 formation.

Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Parma) – I managed to see the Italian great two years running when Rangers faced Parma in European competitions. He was awesome, would produce great saves and would constantly organise those in front of him. Rangers won the encounter in 99 2-0 but it could have been more had the inspirational keeper not kept out Jorg Albertz and Claudio Reyna. Reyna did manage to score a lovely goal beyond Buffon and a nasty deflection on a Tony Vidmar shot also went in. But even though Buffon didn’t win in his two Ibrox encounters he was very special and a privilege to watch.

Right-Back: Michel Salgado (Real Madrid) – I went to see the Galacticos in Madrid back in 2003. It was David Beckham’s first season in La Liga but it was the man that played behind him who impressed the most. That says a lot considering I’m a huge Zidane and Ronaldo fan. But the Spaniard work up and down the flank more than anyone else I’ve ever seen. He must have ran a few miles that night and didn’t seem to complain or break into a sweat. Often Beckham would step aside and let Salgado run past him, either on the way to cross the ball or back towards his own box. ¬†One of, if not the best individual performances I have ever had the pleasure to watch in person.

Left-Back: Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid) – Another star that would work and work for his team. Obviously a player I had seen for years, scored the best freekick ever at the Le Tournoi. I wasn’t luckily enough to see him score but his endurance was phenomenal. His tree trunk legs were the biggest I’ve ever seen, not that I look often. His passing ability that night was also very impressive.

Centre-Back: John Terry (Chelsea) – I’m not a huge fan of John Terry but I haven’t seen as solid a performance from a centre back as the one I witnessed John Terry produce in 2006 against Man City. He was a rock for the ‘Blues’ and threw himself into every tackle and header, winning the vast majority of them. Scored in the 11th minute from a corner and was superb for the whole game.

Centre-Back: Paulo Maldini (AC Milan/Italy) – Managed to see the Italian twice and he impressed on both occasions. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, I have’t had the pleasure to see another centre-back as assured as he was. A fine leader, who would often show the rest how it should be done. Timing in a tackle is excellent and Maldini must have a Rolex because he was always bang on time with every challenge.

Holding Midfielder: Patrick Viera (Arsenal): Came up to Glasgow with the Gunners and was head and shoulders above every other player out on the field. Would effortlessly run from box to box and would seem to catch any opponent no matter where they were on the pitch. The fact he was just returning back from injury and only lasted 62 minutes, yet easily won the man of the match award, just shows you how good he was.

Creative Midfielder: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) – Saw him in a friendly for Barca at the Camp Nou. It was just as he was breaking into the side. As he was warming up before the game my mum, who took me to Barcelona as a birthday present, asked ‘who is the wee kid training with the team?’. It was Iniesta. His passing was superb and he even managed to score late on. It is always fantastic to see a player early on in their career and see that they have great potential, then watch as they become a world star.

Creative Midfielder: Zinedine Zidane (France/Real Madrid) – Such a wonderful and graceful player. You feel drawn to him and nearly ignore the rest of the game. He would caress the ball and then pass it between the eye of a needle or drop a shoulder and take two opposition players out of the game. Was an honour to see him twice in his career both were outstanding performances.

Forward: Neymar (Brazil) – Was luckily enough to get down to the Emirates and see Scotland take on Brazil. Neymar was the star on show that day. A lot like Iniesta, it was just great to see a young player with world class, god given talent. He may have dived once or twice and got into trouble by having a go at the Scots fans, but his style on the ball was amazing. His pace was electrifying and his touches were sublime at times. Scored twice that day.

Forward: Roberto Baggio (Italy) – It was one of the first live matches I had seen in person but Baggio made me sit up and take notice right away. My young eyes would follow him around the park as he would drop deep or move out wide looking for some space. When he received the ball he would always be direct and head for goal. Had a Scottish defender follow him everywhere he went but didn’t seem to notice it too much.

Foward: Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – A hero of mine! I loved this Brazilian number 9. Had seen him from Cruzeiro days to his final Corinthians days. Always, always and I mean ALWAYS wanted to see the great man play. The trip in 2003 to see Madrid take on Espanyol was finally my chance. As I said previously, I left that day praising Salgado but Ronaldo didn’t disappoint. He managed to get a brace and surprisingly both were with his head! A dream come true to see him play. Was also nice to see him at the Emirates as he came out for a huge round of applause just before the Scotland Brazil game.

On the bench: Iker Casillas, Lillian Thuram, Thiago Silva, David Beckham, Pavel Nedved, Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry.

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