WORDS BY MICAH FANIMO
The beautiful game has enabled us to see so many different footballers, who have and still are taking us through so many different emotions.
Football is a game where we have seen tears of joy, heartbreak and sorrow, all which can happen within 90 minutes.
In my almost three decades of watching the sport, I have had a lot of favourite players and have taken a liking to their attributes. All of this has assisted me in creating in what I believe to be, the perfect footballer.
A cerebral footballer player, it was like watching a symphony. He controlled not only his team but that of the opposition. A brilliant, intelligent, tactical mind. A truly superior player.
You didn’t think I was going to create my perfect footballer and leave out Cristiano Ronaldo, did you? His heading ability is second to none. The spring, the hang, the power? Unmatched. His header against Roma in the Champions League for Manchester United, or the one against United for Real Madrid where he jumped twice the height of Patrice Evra? Ridiculous.
We have seen many different physiques and body types dominate world football – I mean look at the difference between Messi and Ronaldo. There is no one truly dominant one. However, the physique I most admire is that of Paul Pogba. Standing at 6ft 2′, his frame is perfect for my ideal footballer. Strong core, long legs and perfect body symmetry.
Only one answer for me regarding this and that is the great Rory Delap. Not the most authentic footballer but ask any Premier League Team between 2009 and 2012 who the player they feared the most with the ball in their hands was. He is renowned for having one of the most feared throw-ins in football, an absolute cannon which could cause trouble if the ball went out anywhere in the opposition half.
What a player this man was. His man marking ability and timing in the tackle was second to none. What made his efficiency even more effective was the fact he was only 5ft 8′. You don’t normally see defenders that small this day and age. His tackling stood out in the early 00’s when Inter Milan were on the rise and eventually won five Serie A titles in a row.
With a frightening change of direction and speed, my choice for agility will be Frank Ribery. Even now in Serie A at 37 years of age, his burst of acceleration and movement still has younger players confused. During his prime for Marseille and Bayern Ribery was one of, if not the, most agile wingers in world football.
One of the best and most underrated creative players and playmakers of his generation. His vision and weight of pass is amongst the all-time greats with both execution and aesthetics. Passing range and ability to provide assists for teammates – we all remember the back heeled assists for Benzema and Zidane, right?
Out of his many glorious attributes, this is the one that I believe is the most important to his success as a player. Lionel Messi is often and widely regarded by many as the best dribbler of all time and is still going strong at the age of 33. This is all made by his first touch. It usually takes players out the game before he even starts dribbling. A glorious deft touch which constantly leaves defenders in his wake.
This was a very tricky area. It’s not just having the speed, it’s how the uses it. Mbappe has freakish speed which he has displayed at every level. Whether it’s running past a player or galloping down the pitch on the counter attack. Not many players have that top level speed and intelligence to go along with it.
This was close between him, Andres Iniesta and the late, great Diego Maradona for me. However, If Messi takes the throne for first touch, then Hazard takes the throne for dribbling. An absolute wizard with the ball at his feet with the ability to glide past four or five players at will on a weekly basis. With his low centre of gravity and stocky frame, it is almost impossible to get the ball off Eden Hazard when he is in full flow.
Without question. There has been no player, past or present, that has displayed the array of skills this man has on a football pitch. It is impossible to even compare. He stands alone.
Kevin De Bruyne
Sorry Becks. Ideally this is would be you, but I found a player who can do this with both feet. A lovely delivery with either the left or right foot and with just as much variation. Aesthetically it might not be easy on the eye to most, but I love it.
The finesse king. The best player to ever play in the Premier League and the best striker of my generation by an absolute mile. Thierry Henry’s right foot needs to be immortalised. Nothing it couldn’t do – well apart from score in a final, but I’ll give him a pass.
“I played with great champions. I played with players that were already…wow. I played with players that I saw were a talent and became…wow, but the one I felt could do it longer, and he didn’t do it, was Adriano when I was at Inter. He could shoot from every angle, nobody could tackle him, nobody could take the ball, he was a pure animal.” — Zlatan Ibrahimović.
I have seen many left foots in my life. So many devastating goals, passes, tricks and flicks. However, I have never seen one quite as revered as Adriano’s. The Emperor.
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