This week I was asked by the
Tribalfootball team to pick my all-time XI from my playing career. To say it was difficult is an understatement as I played with numerous footballing greats at Newcastle, Fulham and Sunderland, but here goes:
Goalkeeper - Edwin van der Sar
It came down to two, but the person who just knicked it is Edwin van der Sar, ahead of Shay Given. Both world-class goalkeepers. Obviously Edwin went to Manchester United and added to the trophies he'd already won at Ajax. So for that reason, Edwin just tips the scales slightly from Shay.
There's not much to seperate them though. They were both great with their distribution and hands, terrific goalkeepers who could win you games with their outstanding skills.
Video Courtesy of Arsenal Videos
Right-back - Steve Finnan
I played with Steve Finnan at Fulham before he went to Liverpool and became a Champions League winner. The perfect athlete, Steve never stopped running up and down the pitch. Great defensively and great quality on the ball as well, in terms of breaking forward. An outstanding player.
Left-back - John Beresford
The same as Steve, in the fact that he was a terrific athlete. He also made a lot of goals for a fullback. A big, big player at the left-back position. He was absolutely brilliant.
Centre-backs - Steve Howey & Philippe Albert
Steve would've gone on to win plenty of England caps if it wasn't for his injuries. He was an outstanding central defender.
Alongside him I'd have to put Philly Albert. An absolutely wonderful footballer. He was a colossus at the back. So elegant on the ball and could play any position on the pitch, but also a good defender.
Left-midfield - David Ginola
The first six-months David came to Newcastle he was unstoppable. The first season he was simply unplayable, defenders couldn't handle him.
If they got tight with him, he'd spin them. If they gave him space and they backed off, he was brilliant in a one-on-one situation. He scored some fantastic goals. A tremendous athlete as well standing at 6ft 2in. He was very, very powerful. In training he was outstanding as well. You couldn't really play against him, because in one-on-one situations you'd back him nine times out of 10.
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Central-midfield - Rob Lee
Rob got changed from a winger into a midfield player and it paid off. He was a terrific box-to-box player.
A tremendous passer of the ball who could do everything. Head, tackle, a great range of passing with both feet and could also score important goals. I'd probably have Rob sitting a little bit deeper in this side as he did towards more at the back end of his career.
Central-midfield - Peter Beardsley
I had to squeeze Peter Beardsley in here, even if it's not in his preferred position of striker. Peter could play in midfield as well. He was a magician with the football, he could do anything.
He got as much pride as making goals for people as he did scoring them, and he certainly scored some unbelievable ones, going past five or six players, long distance strikes, the lot. Absolutely top-draw.
Right-midfield - Faustino Asprilla
On the right-hand side I had to fit another striker in with Tino Asprilla. He was flamboyant and a maverick in every sense of the word.
He could go past players with ease, he had wonderful technique and unbelievable balance and turn of speed. It wouldn't be his favoured position because obviously he's a striker, but I'm trying to get as many quality players in as I can and Faustino would have to be on the pitch.
Forward - Alan Shearer
This one was obvious.
Alan is the Premier League's greatest ever goalscorer, an unbelievable number nine. The quality of him was demonstrated when he suffered serious injuries in his career. Because when he came back, he adapted his game. When he first came on the scene he was powerful, he was very, very quick and strong, getting balls over the top and holding off defenders. But when he got older and after some serious injuries, he became a different type of striker.
He isn't the tallest but he was phenomenal in the air, the direction he could get off his headers, as well as his brilliant link-up play. And he loves scoring all types of goals. A tap-in would give him just as much joy as a 30-yard free-kick into the top corner. That was the key for him.
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Forward - Andy Cole
It was tough to pick a partner for Alan Shearer. I played with so many top class forwards. Kevin Phillips, Les Ferdinand, Louis Saha and Asprilla.
But I had to go with Andy Cole because of the spell we had playing together. His goalscoring record at Newcastle was phenomenal. And he was a striker that played off the shoulder, which was great for me as a midfielder because he was always looking for that through pass to get on the end of things. With that strike partnership you'd be guaranteed goals if you gave them half an opportunity.
Manager - Kevin Keegan
This was one of the hardest picks for me. I was lucky in my career as every manager I played under was exceptional. I'll always be in debt to the late Jim Smith, who gave me my debut. Ossie Ardiles was a fantastic manager for us young players coming through at Newcastle. Kenny Dalglish had won the Premier League at two different clubs, an icon, and great man manager.
Paul Bracewell was a colleague of mine, who I had a hell of a lot of respect for. Jean Tigana took the football level to new heights in terms of nutrition and fitness in comparison to anything else I'd experienced.
Chris Coleman, an ex-teammate of mine and good friend, came in as one of the youngest managers at Fulham, and did an outstanding job on a limited budget. And lastly, I had Graeme Souness, who was another exceptional man manager.
But in the end, I had to pick Kevin Keegan, because he took the club from the bottom reaches to competing for the Premier League on a regular basis and into Europe. He was just out of this world.
Video Courtesy of Talk of the Tyne