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Michael Duberry Column: My dream team
6:00pm Wednesday 9th October 2013 in Sport
A week into my retirement, I have been overwhelmed with congratulations and good wishes from fans, former teammates and my peers.
It’s also been a time for quiet reflection on my career, and I got round to thinking of all the world-class players I have encountered.
So I thought I would put together a team of the best I have played with.
In my first stint as a gaffer, I will play 4-2-3-1, the formation that most top teams are using these days.
Former England international Nigel Martyn gets the No 1 jersey, pipping Dutch international Ed de Goey and Paul Robinson.
Nigel was a great keeper and a good talker.
My right back is again from my Leeds days and goes to Gary Kelly, who gets in ahead of another Leeds teammate Danny Mills and Spanish international Albert Ferrer.
‘Kells’ for me was one of the best in the Premier League, up there with Lee Dixon, Rob Jones and Gary Neville.
The left back spot goes to Graeme Le Saux, ahead of Republic of Ireland’s Ian Harte.
Graeme was dangerous going forward and solid at the back.
The two rocks who will occupy the central defensive positions are Marcel Desailly and Rio Ferdinand.
I had to leave out World Cup winner Frank Lebeouf, Leeds legend Lucas Radebe and internationals Jonathan Woodgate and Dominic Matteo.
Marcel was just immense. He read the game so well, was strong and a real leader. Rio is arguably one of the best of his generation. He never gave an opposing forward anything and his reading of the game was second to none.
All of the above mentioned at some time or other kept me on the sidelines!
In the new double holding midfield role, I am going with David Batty and Ruud Gullit.
Batts was brilliant at breaking up play, shielding the two central defenders and his passing ability was excellent.
What is there to say about former world player of the year Ruud? He was tremendous when I played with him – and he wasn’t even in his peak.
They both keep out top players like Olivier Dacourt, Didier Deschamps and Jody Morris.
The advanced midfielders is another area that gave me a headache, but like any good gaffer I welcome the problem!
On the right of the three, I will play Gus Poyet. He was brilliant at getting forward and more importantly, scoring goals. Gus keeps out Chelsea teammates Dan Petrescu and Roberto Di Matteo.
On the left, I’m plumping for Australian superstar and Leeds teammate Harry Kewell, which means England international Jason Wilcox and Danish legend Michael Laudrup have to miss out.
Harry had a lovely left foot and on his day could leave any defender in the world for dead.
The No 10 role just behind the striker is taylor-made for Gianfranco Zola, a skilful player who had the best close control I have ever seen. The lone striker role was difficult too, because I had so many to choose from.
Gianluca Vialli, Tore Andre Flo, Mark Viduka and Gigi Casiraghi were all candidates, but the role goes to the player who I always said would be the first name on my team sheet – Mark Hughes.
I just loved the way he played – strong, tough, battling for every ball like it was his last. He scored goals as well.
Oh, and my team colours would be all black, a sign of strength and dominance. The bench would be filled with some of the top names earlier mentioned who missed out on the starting XI.
My team (4-2-3-1): Nigel Martyn; Gary Kelly, Marcel Desailly, Rio Ferdinand, Graeme Le Saux; David Batty, Ruud Gullit; Gianfranco Zola, Gus Poyet, Harry Kewell; Mark Hughes.
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