My Personal Team of the Decade XI

Over the years, ever since I first began watching and playing the beautiful game we all love, I’ve witnessed and laid on eyes on marvelous talents, and some, not so marvelous. This blog or piece, whatever you want to call it, will be my personal and favored best XI of the most marvelous players of the past decade (2002-2012). 

The players are decided by their impeccable quality, talent, and of course, my individual preference. Many will unfortunately be left out from this line up. There are just so many to choose from which is why this article was such a difficult task for me. 

Despite that, I hope you enjoy the piece and let me know your opinions in the comments section below.

Formation: 4-2-1-2-1

Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon

Taken from Goal

This was a difficult position to choose from because we’ve been blessed with so many talented keepers over the years, especially in the past decade. But, I’m pleased with my decision to name this outstanding, top class keeper as my keeper of the decade. 

Gianluigi Buffon, a living legend and a club symbol and icon for one of Europe’s greatest ever sides, Juventus. Known for his exceptional reflexes, positioning, command of his area as well as his leadership qualities, Buffon is one of the greatest, some even say the best ever, keepers of all time. 

He has kept and stayed at his same world class level for many years now, and has had another impressive season with his long serving club, winning the Serie A in the process.

Honorable mentions: Iker Casillas, Oliver Kahn, Edwin van der Sar, Julio Cesar

Right Back: Javier Zanetti

Taken from Sports Club Blog

Does this man ever age? A question which has long been in my head and the heads of many others, in regards to the unbelievable stamina, class, and longevity of the versatile Argentinian. Javier Zanetti, epitomizes the word ‘legend’ and he fully deserves that label. 

Long serving captain of Inter Milan, where he’s considered an icon, Zanetti has stayed at the same top class level for many, many years, he’s extremely consistent, difficult player to get past, who never stops running and fighting for his team. 

Despite being at the rather ‘old age’ of 37, Zanetti is still one of the best around and consistently covers so much ground during a match that it’s almost shocking and astonishing for anyone who witnesses him playing, that he’s in the wrong age of 30. 

A player who deserves a salute. Take a bow, Javier. You’re a role model and true inspiration. 

Advice to any aspiring footballer: Just watch this man play and learn from the way he conducts himself, on and off the pitch.

Honorable mentions: Lilian Thuram, Cafu, Maicon, Dani Alves, Gary Neville

Centerbacks: Alessandro Nesta & Carles Puyol

Taken from Zimbio

This was a very, very difficult choice to make. There’s just so many to choose from that it was almost impossible to select two out a huge pool of world class talent. After a lot of thought, I’ve decided to select these two living legends; Alessandro Nesta and Carles Puyol. These two are, in my opinion, among the greatest ever defenders to grace the pitch. 

Nesta, who recently left AC Milan whom he has served admirably for years, is known for his elegance and superb reading of the game. 

He’s been unfortunate with injuries over the past few years, especially back problems, but he’s bounced back and his reputation as one of the best around, has been kept intact. A true professional and one of the best ever.

Many will be surprised over my omission of 2006 Best Player in the World, Fabio Cannavaro, ahead of Carles Puyol. This was a very difficult decision to make, but I’ve always been a big fan of Puyol’s. Not only that, but also Cannavaro, asides from his successful short stint at Juventus and his superb World Cup showing in 2006, the Italian wasn’t the same player as he was with Napoli and Parma (from 1992-95 and 95-2002, respectively) hampered by injuries and poor form with both Inter Milan and Real Madrid, respectively.

And so, I just feel that Puyol was more consistent and more successful during this period, which include the World Cup with Spain in 2010. But again, this is just my opinion.

Barca’s “Lion heart” has been the club’s warrior and battler for many years, stepping up from its youth academy and becoming a legend and its captain. 

Known for his excellent positioning, man-marking, aerial ability and never-say-die attitude. He’s been consistently excellent for years now, and rarely gives a bad performance; Mr. Reliable. 

I think that he complements the more elegant Nesta very well in this line-up; beauty and the beast. 

Honorable mentions: Fabio Cannavaro, Rio Ferdinand, Jaap Stam, Roberto Ayala, Lucio, John Terry, Fernando Hierro, Nemanja Vidic

Left Back: Paolo Maldini

Taken from Bleacher Report

In my opinion, the greatest left back ever to grace the pitch. The great Paolo Maldini, a legend and icon, who has served both his club AC Milan and the Italian national team admirably for many, many years. 

A great leader, excellent and impeccable with his positioning and reading of the game as well as being a true professional epitomised with his incredible longevity and consistency even when he reached the wrong side of 30s. 

Legend, just simply a legend.

Honorable mentions: Roberto Carlos, Gianluca Zambrotta, Ashley Cole, Patrice Evra, Bixente Lizarazu

Defensive midfielders: Andrea Pirlo & Xavi

Taken from Sport Foot Magazine

There have been plenty of excellent midfielders over the years, especially holding ones, and I’ve decided to select two of the very best in Andrea Pirlo and Xavi. Two players known for their terrific ability to hold the ball and pick out a precise and accurate pass. 

Both are extremely creative and consistent as well, very influential for both their club and country over the years. Two of the best I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, a pleasure and delight to watch.

Honorable mentions: Claude Makelele, Patrick Vieira, Gennaro Gattuso, Gilberto Silva, Xabi Alonso, Edgar Davids, Diego Simeone, Roy Keane

Central Attacking midfielder: Zinedine Zidane

Taken from Soccer Series Wallpapers

Who else? Who else then one of the greatest ever to ever play the game. The talented, mercurial Frenchman, who made the game look so easy and effortless; the “Scientist” and France’s best ever- Zinedine Zidane. In all honesty, this was probably the easiest decision to make. 

One of the most gifted players with a brilliant football mind, who used to glide past players like thin air, and create chances and opportunities from absolutely nothing. 

His retirement from football was one of the most saddest days of my life, a heavily missed footballer who brought joy to many. What a player.

Honorable mentions: Juan Roman Riquelme, Andres Iniesta, Francesco Totti, Michael Ballack, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Guti, Kaka, Juan Valeron, Clarence Seedorf

Right Attacking Midfielder: Lionel Messi

Taken from Reuters

The best player of all time? Many claiming are that, and it’s easy to see why. 

A phenomenal talent who’s been making a habit of breaking records which include becoming his club Barcelona’s all time top scorer, the first ever player to score 5 goals in a Champions League, and the first ever to score 70 or more goals in a season; earth-shattering records that defies all odds and levels of humanity. 

Exceptionally gifted, superb technically, who’s not only great at scoring but also in assisting his teammates as well, displaying the unselfish side of his game. A player you see once in a lifetime.

Honorable mentions: Luis Figo, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Marc Overmars

Left Attacking Midfielder: Ronaldinho

Taken from Super Celebrity

One of the most exceptionally gifted and talented players I’ve ever seen. The undisputed best player in the world in 2004 and 2005, had everything in his locker: He was the complete player. 

Ronaldinho could play anywhere in midfield, dazzling us with his sublime tricks and plays that were, at times, out of this world. He was a superb free kick taker, the heart beat of a Barca side where he was their main man, their go to guy, the man they rely on to unlock teams and he regularly delivered. 

Sadly suffered a decline in performances due to excessive partying and such, which led to his abrupt departure to AC Milan. However, despite that, it’s an utmost pleasure watching him play; brilliant footballer and a joy to watch.

Honorable mentions: Pavel Nedved, Ryan Giggs, Robert Pires 

Forward: Ronaldo

Taken from Sports Cafe

From Alessandro Del Piero to Thierry Henry, many great stirkers have left their mark on the beautiful game this past decade. But, in my opinion, one player has stood out and left the biggest, most indelible mark, and that player is the one and only, the “El Fenomeno”- Ronaldo. 

Possibly the best striker of all time, this incredibly talented Brazilian took Europe by storm, when he joined Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven as a teenager and scored over 40 goals in his first full season. Ronaldo didn’t finish there. 

At the age of just 20, he picked up the Best Player in the World after a superb season with Barcelona. Despite a career-threatening injury, the “El Fenomeno” bounced back in the 2002 World Cup finishing as its top scorer with 8 goals, including a brace in the final against Germany. 

Ronaldo was known for his pace, dazzling skills and finesse, a knack in scoring the unthinkable and superb finishing in and outside of the penalty box; a real scourge to defences everywhere he went. 

A true legend, who’s a role model and hero to many football fans worldwide. 

Honorable mentions: Alessandro Del Piero, Rivaldo, Andriy Shevchenko, Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Samuel Eto’o, Filippo Inzaghi, Henrik Larsson, Raul Gonzalez, Gabriel Batistuta, Christian Vieri, Alan Shearer and many, many more. 



Puyol  Nesta

Zanetti                     Maldini



Messi                         Ronaldinho


Written by Omar Almasri
Follow me on Twitter @OAlmasri or @OPosts

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