Tag Archives: Gianluigi Buffon

My Perfect Footballer #5 – Kendall Rowan

Being a 90’s baby means I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing some of the G.O.A.T footballers, from Zidane to Ronaldinho and more recently Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

All of them have different abilities and excellence in different areas – so without using a single player for more than one attribute, I’m going to build my perfect footballer.


Brain
Andrea Pirlo

Pirlo had the ability as a player to almost stop the game in real time and scan the length of the pitch in the middle of an attack. If he was a yard behind in pace, he made up two anticipating the ball and was fascinating to watch. He even himself famously said, “football is played with the head, and your feet are just the tools.”

Heading Ability
Didier Drogba

A man mountain on the pitch and a character off it, Drogba ranked very highly for me in terms of players who had an eye, or rather a head, for goal. Scoring some of the greatest goals of his career with his head, Drogba had as much skill up top as he did down at his feet. With heading being almost a dying part of the modern game, an aerial threat like the Ivorian’s is hard to come by. Huge mention to Alan Shearer in this category as well.

Physique
Zlatan Ibrahimovic

I have to go with Zlatan for this one. It’s hard to ignore the slender, ripped physique of the man that has allowed him to play at the very highest levels of the game worldwide for over two decades. Not many players have the longevity and the strength to compete like Zlatan has.

Hands
Gianluigi Buffon

One of the greatest goalkeepers of all time who has consistently performed at top level for over 20 years, you cannot deny the shot-stopping ability of this Italian beast. Buffon made incredible saves with ease in his pomp and that makes him my top candidate for this category, alongside being the most capped player in Italian history. A testament to his greatness.

Tackling
Carles Puyol

This Spanish international had a defensive career matched by very few, and in terms of trophies is as decorated as any. Puyol was a master tackler and timed challenges with precision we could only dream of seeing today, meaning he only received one red card in his whole career.

Agility
Neymar

Known for the silky way he dribbles past defenders and his showboating, Neymar for me just simply floats across the pitch with or without a football at his feet. He can zip effortlessly all ways around a defender, has a wicked change of direction and on his day is a sublime watch.

Passing
Xavi

The man who is known for completing the vast majority of his passes in every game and controlled the tempo when the ball was at his feet, Xavi was another easy pick for me here. Any type of pass – short, crossing, through balls; he could do it with ease and accuracy and was a joy to watch for me.

First Touch
Andres Iniesta

Iniesta for me is one of the best to ever do it when receiving a ball. It didn’t matter if it was a long or short pass, the ease with which he could bring it under his spell on the first touch was a thing of beauty to see.

Speed
Kylian Mbappe

This category was one of the hardest to choose because the fastest players change year on year, but I went with this man due to the heights he has reached at such a young age, and consistently for the past 3 years has ranked as one of the fastest players in the world.

Dribbling
Franck Ribery

In the 2000’s, this Frenchman was massively underrated in certain areas of the game, but was amazing to watch when taking on defenders one on one. Stats also don’t lie – for dribbling attempts in a single year, Ribery attempted an enormous 1084 dribbles (2013), compared to Messi’s 331 and Ronaldo’s 252.


Skills
Ronaldinho

If you know and watch football even the tiniest bit, you still know how great this man was. One of my favourite footballers of all time, he had the ability to get you off your seat with the way he moved a football, gracefully but with purpose anywhere on the pitch. He is a master of the art of football.

Crossing
Kevin De Bruyne

A lot of people would’ve opted for Beckham here, so to be different I opted for one of the best attacking midfielders in the world right now, Kevin De Bruyne. He has lit up the Premier League with his accurate passing, eye for goal and electric crosses and has statistically ranked in the best crossers amongst Europe’s top leagues for a few seasons now.

Right Foot
Cristiano Ronaldo

I don’t think this list would even be complete without including the two greatest players of this era. The albeit contested greatest goalscorer of all time, the weapon that is CR7’s right foot has allowed us to see some amazing goals for club and country, and has cemented him in history.

Left Foot
Lionel Messi

As above, these two categories practically picked themselves for me. You cannot deny the prowess these two possess in front of goal, and it’s hard to even ever imagine a player with the ability in both feet of the two greats.

FC Barcelona v Juventus: Group G - UEFA Champions League : News Photo

Serie A XI vs Premier League XI: 1992 – Present

*DISCLAIMER*

Before we get too far into it, “all-time” is defined by the life span of the Premier League in this instance to try and keep it as fair as possible. Anyone who played in Serie A or the Premier League between August 1992 and today was eligible to be selected, but I selected the players I saw most of and believe were the best.


I think it’s widely accepted that in the 1990’s, Serie A was the place to be if you were a world class footballer.

Italy started the decade by hosting the World Cup and losing in the semi-finals to Argentina in extra-time. It was the end of an era but also the start of one, as they began to bring through incredible youth players all over the pitch that would go on to become world champions in 2006.

Their domestic league was as competitive as always too. There have been five different winners since the 1992/93 season but a huge 12 clubs have finished in the top 3 positions since then too.

They have been blessed with some of the greatest talent of all time, and yet the majority of them won’t make it into this team.

Claudio Villa Archive : News Photo

The likes of Cafu, Chiellini, Thuram, Davids, De Rossi, Gattuso, Zidane, Kaka, Ibrahimovic, Shevchenko and Baggio all saw their primes in Serie A and yet they won’t make it into this lineup for me. I’m aware you’ll all shout at me in the comments or on Twitter, but it is what it is.

The Premier League on the other hand has managed to grab the tag-line “best league in the world” over the last 20 odd years and it’s hard to argue sometimes. Some of the all-time great players plied their trade in England, while some of the greatest teams in recent history have also come from England.

Arsenal v Manchester United : News Photo

Much like Serie A, some superstar names will miss out in this team too. Players like Schmeichel, Irwin, Lauren, Campbell, Van Dijk, Carvalho, Evra, Vieira, Giggs, Gerrard, Lampard, Yaya Toure, David Silva, De Bruyne, Fabregas, Beckham, Owen, Fowler, van Nistelrooy, Cantona, Bergkamp, Suarez, Hazard and Salah won’t be involved.

So lets take a look at who is involved, shall we?


In goal, it’s a battle between two legends. Gianluigi Buffon was the only logical pick for Serie A’s team, with over 650 appearances. He has won the title a record ten titles too, making him the only possible option.

For the Premier League, Petr Cech gets the nod. The former Chelsea and Arsenal stopper’s prime was one of the most unreal things I ever witnessed, with Cech conceding just 15 goals in his first Premier League season followed by just 22 the following year and won the title four times.

AC Milan v Inter Milan - Serie A : News Photo

In front of them will be two of the greatest defences you could possibly build from that generation.

Javier Zanetti and Gary Neville are two long-serving, former captains of their respective clubs where they spent almost their entire careers. Zanetti is the Inter Milan player with the most appearances for the club in history, while Gary Neville came through the academy and retired at Manchester United. Both were excellent defenders in their prime, too. Zanetti was an athletic, strong full-back who’s technical quality allowed him to move into midfield for a spell in his career. Neville was a bit more basic without the athleticism, but had a wicked delivery and was a solid one on one defender.

On the left, you have two of the best defenders in history. While Paolo Maldini is most often referred to as a centre-back, I saw him mostly at left back for Milan and he was incredible. Strong in the tackle, an excellent reader of the game, perfect timing and great technically. He’s only bettered in that role in history to me by the Premier League’s pick – Ashley Cole. The former Arsenal and Chelsea man had a very short spell in Serie A with Roma, but his peak came in the Premier League as part of Arsenal’s Invincibles and then with Chelsea’s Champions League winning side.

England v Hungary : News Photo

In the middle, I can’t think of two more complete central defender pairings you could make in my lifetime. Alessandro Nesta and Rio Ferdinand are, to me, the two best centre backs I’ve ever seen. Alongside them you’d have Fabio Cannavao, the 2006 Ballon d’Or winner and World Cup winning captain, and John Terry. Terry was incredibly underrated for his ability on the ball with both feet, but was also imperious in the air in both boxes and willing to put his body on the line to block a shot like any Italian defender would be proud to do.

Central midfield was probably the hardest decision I had to make for the Premier League team. So many world class options, but in the end I opted for a duo that won more Premier League titles together than any other.

Roy Keane and Paul Scholes were the perfect blend of force, finesse, intensity and goal threat that you’d need in a side. Keane was a stud of a ball winner, but also had energy to go box-to-box, while Scholes was able to be a threat in the final third or dictate play from a deeper position if necessary.

UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Bayern Munich v AC Milan : News Photo

For Serie A it’s a mixture of finesse and technique, as Andrea Pirlo and Clarence Seedorf reunite. The two played together for both Milan sides, but most notably in the red half for AC. Seedorf was the total package and could play any midfield role to perfection, much like Scholes, while Pirlo was more about keeping the ball moving and using his technique rather than physical attributes in comparison to Keane.

Attack for the Premier League was probably quite easy in the end. While some top stars missed out, there were no four players who deserved their spot more than these.

Recently retired Wayne Rooney was the ultimate number ten in the Premier League and to this day is the only player to have ever scored over 200 goals AND assisted over 100 goals. Around him, are the three of the best to ever touch the league. Cristiano Ronaldo started his career on the right but moved to the left and became a goalscoring demon before joining La Liga and eventually Serie A.

Manchester United v Arsenal : News Photo

His ability to go either way while also being a threat aerially and from range mean he can play anywhere along the front line and still produce, so he slots in there. On the left is arguably the most complete striker of his generation in Thierry Henry.

Normally I’d put Henry up front because that’s where he became Arsenal and France’s all-time top goalscorer from, but he had a preference of drifting out wide and using his lightning pace to get in behind defences. That also allows me to put Alan Shearer up front.

The all-time top goalscorer in the division with 260 goals, nobody has come close to matching that number. He holds almost all the goalscoring records you can think of in England’s top flight and in his prime, was one of the best strikers in the world.

For Serie A, the conversation is much the same. Two of Italy’s golden attackers of all-time will sit just behind the strikers, with Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti taking the creative mantles in the side. Agility, skill, vision, technique, power and finesse, between them they had it all.

Ahead of them are probably my two favourite strikers ever. Batigol, Gabriel Batistuta, who made a name for himself by trying to rip nets when he scored goals because of the pure power he could hit a ball with, had everything in his game to trouble a top defence on his own. Now pair him up with the GOAT, Ronaldo Nazario. El Fenomeno. R9.

The man was at his absolute best for Inter Milan during the 90’s before a knee injury took away his explosiveness. Even after that he scored goals for fun wherever he went and his inclusion was a no brainer.

Originally tweeted by إسحاق الهاشمي (@is7aqalhashmi) on September 16, 2018.

So who wins? It’s almost impossible to say. It would without a doubt be the best football match I’ve ever been able to see but I’d give the nod to Serie A – just. The complete football team.

Brazil Greatest XI vs Italy Greatest XI

When you think football, you almost certainly will think of the Brazilian national team and it’s glittering history.

The famous yellow shirts are linked heavily with some of the greatest attacking players in the history of football, while defensively they’ve probably never been blessed with the best options. They’ve had a few stand outs but nothing like when you look at the history of the Italian side.

Arguably the greatest defensive nation in footballing history, Italy have had some of the best defenders in history prior to my lifetime including the likes of Franco Baresi. So what happens if you pit the best attack against the best defence over the most recent generations?

Much like in the ‘France vs Holland Fantasy Match‘, several top players have missed out on the lineups simply because I can’t pick more than 11 players. The likes of Rivaldo, Christian Vieri, Giorgio Chiellini, Gilberto Silva, Cafu, Marcelo and Gennaro Gattuso have been left out either because I believe these are better or I’m trying to get more of a balance of past and present.

Football. 2002 FIFA World Cup Finals. Semi Final. Saitama, Japan. 26th June 2002. Brazil 1 v Turkey 0. Members of the Brazil team are pictured with mascots as they sing their anthem prior to the match. L-R: Rivaldo and Cafu (captain). Credit: POPPERFOTO/J : News Photo

In goal, Italy’s choice was obvious. Gianluigi Buffon is likely to go down as one of the best goalkeepers ever and up until recently is the only Italy number one I’ve know. For Brazil, I’ve given Alisson the nod over two legends in Dida and Claudio Taffarel. The Liverpool man is arguably the best of the lot with his feet and is comfortable sweeping up behind a top heavy team, so he fits in well here.

At full-back, Brazil have arguably had the two best pairs of right and left backs of my lifetime with Cafu and Roberto Carlos as well as Dani Alves and Marcelo. I’ve decided to split the difference with this and take on from each era, with Dani Alves and Roberto Carlos taking the spots here.

Footballer Ronaldo in Action Against Italy : News Photo

For Italy, their full-backs pick themselves. Paolo Maldini is recognised as one of the best defenders the world has ever seen and while he could play at centre-back, he often was used as a left-back for the national team due to the plethora of top central defenders they possessed. As for right-back, Gianluca Zambrotta is comfortably the best Italian I’ve ever seen in that position and that makes his inclusion easy enough.

At centre-back Italy’s pairing is arguably unfair. Alessandro Nesta is the best defender I’ve ever seen in my opinion while Fabio Cannavaro is the last defender to win the Ballon D’Or following Italy’s World Cup win in 2006. A combination of speed, strength, intelligence, aerial ability and leadership they would be a nightmare for any attack.

Brazil’s options don’t have the same quality or reputation, but Lucio and Thiago Silva is also a pairing that would strike fear into any attacking lineup. Aerially dominant, good on the ball and aggressive as they come I would ultimately back the Brazilian’s to make an error before the Italians.

Italy Training Session And Press Conference : News Photo

In midfield, Italy have got balance for days. The destroyer vibe of Daniele De Rossi alongside the playmaking skill of Marco Verratti and Andrea Pirlo give the team the perfect base to build their attacks from while also being to compete in defensive situations too.

Brazil’s lineup is a bit more top heavy and I’ve gone with Fernandinho in the holding midfield role. Now I know I could’ve picked Gilberto Silva but I went with the Manchester City man for the simple reason that I have seen him play in top heavy teams before. With Kaka, Ronaldinho and Neymar ahead of him all interchanging positions and causing havoc, Italy will have a tough time containing the quality and invention they have.

In attack, Italy’s attack has got three magnificent talents ready to link up and interchange positions. Roberto Baggio is widely considered as the best Italian attacker of his generation or since, while Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero are the reigning kings of Rome and Turin respectively.

Their passing, creativity, skill and link up play would likely see some of the best team goals ever scored with them on the pitch, although they lack the frightening pace that a side likely to play on the counter attack would like to have.

FUSSBALL: TOURNOI DE FRANCE MINI WM Lyon, 04.06.97 : News Photo

For Brazil, two of the greatest number nines of the modern generation playing up front together is a terrifying prospect. Romario was the main man during the 1994 World Cup and it was ‘El Fenomeno’ who took the mantle and went on to be one of the best strikers of all time. Together, their combination of pace, skill, strength, creativity and ruthless finishing would surely be too much for any defence.

This would be a battle between attack and defence and it’s hard to see past the attack coming out on top.

Brazil are by no means pushovers defensively and if the full-backs are a bit more efficient with their attacking outlet then you can imagine Italy struggling to break them down with their lack of pace.

With that said, Italy will have the advantage in midfield with three excellent ball-players in there so if they can keep the ball for long periods and keep Brazil’s attack quiet then they would potentially be able to cause an upset.

The likelihood for me however, is that Brazil get on the ball in dangerous areas far too often for the Italian’s to cope and eventually they get broken down for the famous yellow jerseys to celebrate a win yet again.