Welcome back to Severn Sport’s Teams of the Decade! This is part 2, where following on from the gaffer’s picks, big man Ryan Butler will be giving his opinions on the greatest players to grace the world football stage between 2000 and 2009. Before we go any further, I’ll give you a few seconds to guess how many Manchester United players are included, no cheating now……………………. Done? Good! Now then let’s kick off Ryan Butler’s Team of the Decade!
In goal, Butler has plumped for the ‘keeper who he describes as ‘the most consistent for the last 15 years,’ the legendary Spaniard and Real Madrid captain for God knows how many years, Iker Casillas. It’s testament to how high regard he is held in not just by fans but by fellow players that Barcelona centre back Gerrard Pique said yesterday that Casillas would be his idol if he was a Real Madrid fan, and you can see why. Casillas will go down in history as a legendary goalkeeper, basically won everything there is to be won with club and country as well as individual honours. Maybe it’s time to hand over the reigns to David de Gea as Spain’s number 1 but we can never undersell his importance to any team he’s in.
Kicking off the defence we see the first of many Man United players in the team with right back turned pundit Gary Neville. Recently named Pundit of the Year, it was announced yesterday that 8 time Premier League medal winner Neville will be inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame. Couple that with the way he revolutionised the role of the English full back during his playing days, Gary Neville rightfully earns his place. The centre backs of choice could walk into any team on the planet in their prime, Carlos Puyol and Fabio Cannavaro. Despite having awful hair, Puyol oversaw the most successful Spanish national team ever, part of the spine of the team that became world beaters. What can you say about Cannavaro? How about this to start: winner of the World Cup and Ballon D’Or award in the same year. Enough said. Rounding off the defence is the best left England have ever had, (C)Ashley Cole. That man would never have been completely sold by Antonio Candreva in the way Leighton Baines was in the match against Italy at the World Cup. Part of the golden generation of English players, Ashley Cole was the best left back in the world for most of the noughties.
Starting off the midfield is the best player in the world right now, Cristiano Ronaldo. In an era without Lionel Messi, this man would’ve been lauded as the greatest player ever to play the game, but with the Argentine for competition it’s very close between the two. Butler doesn’t agree though and his first central midfielder is the man who he describes as the greatest player ever: Zinedine Zidane. Scorer of one of the greatest Champions League goals ever, the demeanour in which he went about his play was so effortless, he glided across the pitch. Joining Zizou in the middle of the pitch is Paul Scholes. Butler describes him as one of the best players that England have ever produced, the only world class player England had produced since Paul Gascoigne (this was before the time of Wayne Rooney). Yet we wasted him by playing him on the left, which is why he retired from internationals so early, a prime example of England not knowing to do when we get our hands on a world class player. Rounding off the midfield is the man with the worst teeth in football, the Brazilian legend Ronaldinho. In his prime, this man was utterly unplayable, the things he could do with a football at his feet were unbelievable. Just a shame he scored that goal against England at the 2002 World Cup.
Now onto the best part, the strikers. Butler is in agreement with the gaffer, Matt Yates, as he opts for the coolest Frenchman in the entire world, Thierry Henry. He describes him as “the Premier League’s greatest import” and I can’t see any easy reason to disagree with him. Despite initially struggling in the Premier League, he emerged as Arsenal’s top goal-scorer for almost every season of his tenure there. Under long-time mentor and coach Arsène Wenger, Henry became a prolific striker and Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer with 228 goals in all competitions. Partnering the Frenchman up top is the big dog ‘fat’ Ronaldo. In his prime he was up there as one of the best strikers of all time, scorer of 15 World Cup goals, a record only beaten last year by Miroslav Klose against Brazil, how fitting. Ronaldo played for Brazil in 98 matches, scoring 62 goals, and is the second highest goalscorer for his national team. Aged 17, he was a part of the Brazilian squad that won the 1994 World Cup. At the 1998 World Cup he received the Golden Ball for player of the tournament in helping Brazil reach the final where he suffered a convulsive fit hours before the defeat to France. He won a second World Cup in 2002 where he scored twice in the final, and received the Golden Boot as top goalscorer.
There you have it then, Ryan Butler’s Team of the Decade! Here it is in full:
—-G. Neville——Puyol———Cannavaro——A. Cole—-
Two down, one to go! Obviously Penno has failed to send me his team of the decade in time so tomorrow’s edition will be the final one, and naturally the best because I’ll be choosing it. Until then…….
Kelsey De Maria
Be sure to check out more of our team’s blogs on the website, including the latest episodes of Ryan Butler’s Sporting Lists!