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Author Topic: Heaven's eleven  (Read 1836 times)

Online dave.woodhall

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Heaven's eleven
« on: December 04, 2020, 04:53:05 PM »
Weíre not always harbingers of spite, bile and hatred towards everyone who isnít wrapped in claret and blue. There are, believe it or not, some footballers we have a bit of respect for, and thereís (just about) enough of them to put together a decent team. Some are in because they look good, others because of a sublime bit of skill or outrageous talent, and one or just because theyíre so downright arsey they appeal to our sense of contrariness. As ever in this sort of list thereís two rules. No Villa players because that would be cheating and no Small Heath because that would defy the laws of physics.

In goal, Lev Yashin. When the Cold War was raging and we were being told that the missiles would come raining down every day, he was the only footballer from Eastern Europe that youíd heard of. You might not have known who he played for or what position he played. It didnít matter. He wore the greatest kit of all time. Black shirt, black shirts, black socks, black gloves. He could have been on the catwalk.   

At right-back, and proving that thereís always decency in the lowest of situations, Brendon Batson. The team he played for might have been the sneakiest, lowest form of sly bastards to ever play football, but Batson always stood out as being alright. He was the acceptable face of Smethwickism, he was a trailblazer in an area that has thankfully been largely eradicated and since retiring heís dealt with personal tragedy in a dignified and honourable fashion. In a field where thereís not much decency, heís always had plenty.

On the other side Alan Wright would have been in with a shout if he hadnít played for us, so my second choice has to get the nod. Paolo Maldini won seven Serie As, five Champions Leagues, he was still playing for Milan at 41 and theyíll only ever let his sons wear their number three. There isnít all that much more to say about a player like that.

Common perception says that the seventies was a bad time for football. Maybe of you liked stuff like skill and flair it was, but if seeing the other team kicked harder than they kicked you was what you were into it was a golden era, and there was no team better at it than Leeds. What made them particularly horrible was that they werenít just violent, they were cheats as well. Gamesmanship, diving, trying to get the opposition sent off and downright bribery were all regulars at the Elland Road Charm School. The only exception was Norman Hunter, as mean a thug as any who laced up a pair of boots, but who was also able to take what he gave out, which was just as well because he gave out plenty.   

And just to show how contrary this list is, playing next to him would be a player who was the absolute polar opposite in everything they ever did. Franz Beckenbauer was not only he most composed man in football and one of the most majestic players of all time, he also turned out for club and country at Villa Park, so he knew all about playing at the highest level. If that didnít phase him, nothing would. 

In central midfield would be one of the few visiting players ever to get a standing ovation at Villa Park. Ruud Gullit might have been past his best when he played for Chelsea but at a time when foreign players were usually over here for the money when their careers were on the way he rolled up at Villa Park and gave a masterclass in making football look so easy that itís still talked about now, more than twenty years later. Liking a Chelsea player this much really shouldnít be allowed.

Sometimes a player has so few redeeming qualities, or in this case none whatsoever, that you just have to rate him. There canít be many players as downright horrible as Steven Gerrard. Loved by the media, indulged by referees, he made a career out of being a shithouse. He also endeared himself to us all with that crap free kick in the dying minutes of the 2015 FA Cup semi-final, just as the press box was about to let out a cry of hysteria that would have ben heard on Jupiter. So bad heís good, heís in. 

After all these years I was still tempted to put John Mitchell in here, simply for the rage that lot from Bordesley still fly into when they hear his name, and if you donít know who he is then shame on you. It takes a special man to keep such a legend out of the team and weíve got on such candidate here. One of the most under-rated talents in football is the ability to behave so badly after you retire you make people forget what a great player you were. Michel Platini is the undoubted master at that; he was awesome in the Juventus side that might have been the best ever to appear against us but since he packed in playing heís been such an unscrupulous, corrupt bastard that you canít help but admire him. Heís in.

Up front is a player who did more than any man to get us relegated, with the possible exception of Paul Lambert. You should hate him, but he was such a talent and such a great personality that ever time he scored against us we tended to applaud him. We did a lot of applauding. Matt le Tissier, and how good it was when he finally retired. It made a change from seeing the back of him, if you know what I mean.   

Alongside would be another player with the sort of talent you have to admire, but whoís got with it an ego the size of a planet and the sort of attitude that canít be cultivated. Affairs, tax dodging and playing for the unloveliest club in Europe. Christiano Ronaldoís in the team.

Then in the centre of attack, the captain, mainstay of the team and life president if he wants to be, is, as always, Diego Maradona. The H&V fascination with everybodyís favourite Argentinian is long-standing, and enduring. Heís won the gameís greatest honours single-handedly, heís hung out with Fidel, Mike Tyson and the Mob, heís wasted fortunes on women and drugs, spent his entire living not giving a fuck, and most of all heís loathed by the gutter press and the red-necked bigots that read them. We love him and we always will.

Thereís always room for a few substitutes in a team like this. In goal weíd have Neville Southall. First, because playing for the league champions while still looking like he worked on the bins was some achievement. Second, because heís always seemed a decent, pinko Commie type of bloke.

Mike Pejic would be in there as well, purely on the basis that he looked like heíd kill you if he didnít get a game. I know he was with the Villa so he should be ineligible but our house, our rules and anyway, does anyone remember him ever playing?

Talking of borderline psychopaths, Graeme Souness gets the nod purely for the tackle where he took out a player at knee level, feigned innocence and the commentator said he deserved a booking. Itís on You Tube.

And up front Gerd Muller has to be available. There should always be a nod back to the days when the greatest goalscorer in the world looked like he played in the Festival League.
 

Online Legion

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2020, 06:05:32 PM »
Managed by Bobby Robson or Brian Clough?

Online dave.woodhall

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2020, 06:49:13 PM »
Managed by Bobby Robson or Brian Clough?

Caesar Menotti.

Offline Hillbilly

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2020, 12:52:49 AM »
Dr Pablo Alfaro. If you donít know, check out the Sid Lowe interview in the Guardian from some years back.

Online Andy_Lochhead_in_the_air

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2020, 01:03:35 PM »
Can we have Renť Higuita as reserve keeper. So much more to him than just that scorpion kick.
Nicknamed El Loco, went to prison for involvement in kidnapping, friends with drug baron Pablo Escobar, completely changed his appearance with plastic surgery.
Not least 44 goals in 448 appearances !

Offline Damo70

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2020, 01:27:30 PM »
Robin Friday. He would probably kick the shit out of you (and shag your missus) whether you picked him or not.

Offline darren woolley

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2020, 10:38:37 AM »
That's some team Dave it would win everything.

Offline VillaSpen

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2020, 02:51:14 AM »
Gianluca Pagliuca as back up keeper.

Offline JD

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2020, 07:21:00 AM »
No room for George Best?

Surely he needs to be in the 11.

Online dave.woodhall

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2020, 02:40:38 PM »
No room for George Best?

Surely he needs to be in the 11.

No Villa players allowed.

Offline JD

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2020, 02:59:53 AM »
Fair enough Dave. You can add Paolo Rossi to the bench now :'(

Online SoccerHQ

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2020, 05:49:03 PM »
Zola? One of the few opposition players I can remember Holte giving standing ovation to when he was subbed in one of his final Chelsea games.

Offline supertom

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2020, 02:01:07 PM »
Bergkamp. Absolute pleasure watching him play. The way he could orchestrate a game and look like didn't have to break sweat, was phenomenal.
Zola was also a joy to watch.
There have been other players around that era who were also great to watch, but not as likeable. Cantona for example. Brilliant player in a great era for mavericks but a tosser. Henry I've never quite forgiven for that freekick (he did have shithousery in his locker, ask Ireland), but he was probably the best all round forward the Prems ever had.
Also Jay Jay Okocha. Just something about the way he played football for his first year at Bolton. He took the piss, in the best possible way.

Offline Louzie0

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2020, 10:39:50 PM »
I remember watching Berbatov at VP and thinking, heís just moving and playing in a different timeline.
An absolute Rolls Royce of a player.

Offline dcdavecollett

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Re: Heaven's eleven
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2020, 01:53:43 AM »
He was , wasn't he?

I couldn't make my mind up whether he was a lazy bastard, or a genius, he made it look so easy. Perhaps he was both.

 


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