The Spoiler’s Team of the Decade
Did this man make it? Read on (CLUE: yes he did)
It’s hard to know how to correctly refer to the next decade – “the tens”? The “two thousand and tens”? The “teens”? No one honestly knows. Either way, below is a compiled list of the greatest players of the “noughties”… or the “noughts”… or just “the last ten years”. Your choice.
Feel free to express your agreement with a comment.
Oh yeah, or your disagreement.
Goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon (Parma, Juventus)
Lots of goallies have impressed in the last ten years. Iker Casillas is pretty nifty, Shay Given deserves a moist handshake for sticking with Newcastle through thick and thin, and Petr Cech was on magnificent form before skullgate. Plus, of course, there’s always that lovable Oliver Kahn character. But, looming large above all of those safe-handed warriors is Gianluigi Buffon – probably the best around, who also benefits from looking a little bit like Al Pacino in Frankie and Johnny.
Right Back, Cafu (Roma, AC Milan)
Cafu played in something like four World Cups, became the most capped Brazilian footballer of all time, and he spent pretty much all of those games absolutely rocketing up and down the right hand side. If there has been a better right back in the last decade, feel free to pipe up, and hats shall be eaten. But FYI: “Gary Neville” is not a correct answer.
Centre Back, Fabio Cannavaro (Parma, Inter, Juventus, Real Madrid)
It was tricky coming up with the right pairing at the back, especially once it became clear that very few outfield players (ie. none) were going to be English. Rio and Sol very nearly made it – and there was even silly talk of JT – but in the end, Italy’s finest took the honour. So far, Cannavaro is the only defensive player to be crowned Fifa World Player of the Year. Hence, yeah, he’s pretty good.
Centre Back, Alessandro Nesta (Lazio, AC Milan)
And so to the other half of the greatest defensive partnership of the decade, many would argue that Nesta was the better player of the two. Those same people might go on to declare him one of the finest defenders of ALL TIME. But, don’t immediately write those people off as howling insaniacs. They might actually be right. A fine player. As in really brilliant.
Left Back, Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid, Fenerbahce)
The only real blight on the Roberto Carlos copybook is that he has spent every match since that miraculous banana kick in 1997 attempting to perform the same trick. Never with the right result. Breath was always held as the left back motored towards the free kick… and it’d end up in the stands. Gutted. Either way, he is the stand out attacking full back of the last ten years. Ashley Cole is probably not far behind.
Right Midfield, Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
The youngest player in the side, Messi keeps out Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, and – by a whisker – Figo. Not one person fought David Beckham’s corner, which was surprising/fair enough. Already wonderful, Messi looks set to become one of the all-time greats. So much so that he’s even reimagined two of Maradona’s most memorable goals from the 1986 World Cup. No mean feat.
Centre Midfield, Zinedine Zidane (Juventus, Real Madrid)
Even his attempts to rewrite the history books by slamming his head into Marco Materazzi’s chest during the World Cup final in 2006 couldn’t destroy the legacy of football brilliance that Zidane has left behind. Were this a team made up of the greatest players ever to grace the game, he’d be in that too. Like most people carrying the “genius” tag, he had weird hair.
Centre Midfield, Claude Makelele (Real Madrid, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain)
One of the great unsung heroes, Makelele has been such an effective defensive midfielder that he’s even had the role named after him. No one mopped up, broke down attacks, and generally hoovered up any mess better than Makelele at his best. McManaman (who clearly has the scouse version of the same surname) insists that he was the best player at the club during his Real Madrid days, and although it has nothing to do with football, it’s worth noting that he’s also cherished away from the pitch by a very attractive underpants model.
Left Midfield, Ronaldinho (Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, AC Milan)
In real life, there’s a good chance that Ronaldinho could devour a baked potato through a prison yard fence, but his impressive skills don’t end there. During the middle five years of the last decade, he was by far the best player on the planet. Fast, skillful, strong. And all signs from AC Milan this season suggest that he may yet be a force at the next World Cup.
Striker, Thierry Henry (Arsenal, Barcelona)
It’s a shame that Thierry Henry’s decade has been slightly marred by his curious decision to smear his hands all over the ball against Ireland. It’s distracted people from his magnificence. A record goalscorer for Arsenal and France, he’s even managed to impress the people of Barcelona. Yes, he might be completely impossible to like at times, but few have been more explosive.
Striker, Ronaldo (Inter, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Corinthians)
As in, the fat one. He’s had a topsy-turvy decade, with injuries buggering up his progress, and revelations about paying man/woman prostitutes to keep schtum about their relations raising some collective global eyebrows, but he still managed to score goals aplenty – most impressively, his eight at the 2002 World Cup. Fat or not, prozzies or none, he’s a football legend.