My Perfect Player

If I could create a footballer…

Head: Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo may not be the most likeable of footballers, and his heading ability maybe isn’t his best asset, but his quality in the air can be staggering at times. He’s not only got an impressive leap; the power that the Real Madrid forward can put into his headers is astounding. Ronaldo can run into the box from either wing and slam home a header or ingeniously flick a header past a flapping goalkeeper – one of the best header-ers of a football you will ever see.
Brain: Filippo Inzaghi
287 goals in 614 club appearances over a career spanning twenty years, and still going – Pippo Inzaghi should be showcased as one of the greats of the modern era. His killer instinct is second-to-none; it is said that that somewhat-frustrating (for the opposition) ability to be in the right place at the right time cannot be taught, it is natural. He may have been born offside, but Inzaghi could read a football match – at least in an attacking sense – like a book. And a relatively simple book at that.
Eyes: Xavi
This man gets a lot of plaudits, and rightly so. His passing is supreme and, with that, his vision to make that pass is, at times, quite unbelievable. Clearly the Spanish midfielder needs the movement of others around him to allow him to pick the pass, but it’s the way in which he is always looking, eyes darting everywhere to try and find a player in space or, if not, space for him to run into that always amazes me. He does most football-y things better than most – and using his eyes is certainly one of them.
Lungs: Ji Sung Park
Pretty simple this one (and quite a popular choice, I would imagine) – he’s not called ‘three lungs’ for nothing ya’know. Park just runs and runs and runs and runs and.. well you get the picture. The South Korean’s stamina is just incredible and, while his quality was doubted in his early Manchester United days, he is now seen as a valuable asset to the squad. And his lungs will be a valuable asset to my perfect player.
Mouth: David Beckham
I was unsure for who to pick for this body part, so here’s my thinking: what do you want from a footballer’s mouth, or rather how would you prefer the player to use his mouth? Loud, abusive and ‘passionate’ to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition? Or perhaps a quiet player who reserves judgement unless it is needed, showing respect for his fellow professionals and generally getting on with his job without mouthing off? To be honest, I wish that footballers would shut up most of the time, both on and off the pitch. So I’ve gone with someone who always seems to say the right things and, although it’s probably all PR-peddled rubbish, at least he’s not a loudmouth. David Beckham – not a loudmouth.
Left foot: Alvaro Recoba
I used to love this man growing up and I can still sit and watch him on YouTube for hours. A deadball specialist but much more than that, the attacking midfielder has an absolute wand of a left foot. In fact, that doesn’t do it justice. What’s better than a wand? A lightsaber? Alvaro Recoba has a lightsaber of a left foot. This video sums the man up better than I can ever wish to.
Right foot: Juninho Pernambucano
You can have your delicately curled free-kicks into the top corner from a certain former-England captain who isn’t a loudmouth – I’ll take 30-yard-plus rockets into the top corner every time. Juninho can hit freekicks from anywhere and indeed everywhere. There are so many highlight reels of the Brazilians’ freekicks you’d think it would have become tiresome by now – but it hasn’t, and it never will. Here’s the best one. Smack!
So, my perfect player would consist of the head of Ronaldo, the brain of Inzaghi, the eyes of Xavi, the lungs of Park, the mouth of Beckham, the left foot of Recoba and the right foot of Juninho.


This piece was originally published on Chronicles of Almunia.



David Beckham: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

Article from 9thFebruary 2009, for my school newspaper.

It seems that David Beckham wants to cut short his time with MLS side LA Galaxy and join European giants AC Milan, who he is currently on loan with. Ex-England captain Beckham is having the time of his life, playing alongside the likes of Ronaldinho, Kaka and Pato. He has scored two goals in five games and, on Sunday against Lazio, he had a great game, getting the assists for two of Milan’s three goals. The midfielder, who wears the number 32 shirt, previously worn by Milan legend Christian Vieri, is loving life at AC Milan. 

There is one small problem though: he is only on loan and he must return to the Galaxy in time for the new MLS season. Beckham has himself conceded that he wants to stay with the Rossoneri. After playing the first half in a friendly against Rangers on Wednesday night, Beckham said:
”I’ve expressed my desire to stay here but at the moment I’m still a Galaxy player,” Beckham said. ”I respect the Galaxy and everything they have done for me. They have always been great to me. But I hope they can come to an agreement and it’s down to the clubs now. At this point it’s out of my hands. I’ve said what my feelings are to both clubs. To be given the chance again to play at this level at my age is pretty incredible and I’ve enjoyed it so much I would like to continue it. I knew I would enjoy it, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have and do as well as I have.”
Beckham says that he wants to stay in Italy because he has “rediscovered” himself as a footballer. Beckham is only two years into a lucrative 5-year contract worth $32.5 million with the Galaxy, but Beckham says he would rather stay in Milan than go back to Galaxy for the money:
“At the moment, Milan is more important than money. I want to think about football before everything else. I said in a clear manner what I think; I want to stay at Milan because I’ve rediscovered myself as a football player. The immediate aim is to stay here in Milan and play at the highest level possible. This would give me the best possibility of securing a place with the England national team.”
England manager Fabio Capello stated that for Beckham to be considered for a place in the national team squad, he needs to be playing well, regularly. That’s exactly what Beckham is doing. In his brief period in Italy Beckham has been an immediate success, winning over a sceptical public and media thanks to his impact on Milan’s side. So far Galaxy have refused to discuss Beckham’s future, with club spokesman Patrick Donnelly insisting on Wednesday that they “have no comment to make.”
The main reason behind Beckham’s decision to seek a loan move was his ambition to play for England at the 2010 World Cup finals and he clearly feels that aim would be better served by moving from the US back to the top-class European game:
”I think people have seen the way I’ve been since playing at this level again. It’s nothing against the MLS and the football over there, because it’s a game that will grow but it will take quite a few years. I’m still confident that will happen eventually, but I want to have a chance of being involved in 2010 and I believe my best chance of doing so is to remain here.”
Beckham, who recovered from a minor bout of flu to play in Glasgow on Wednesday, revealed England manager Fabio Capello had encouraged him to play at the best standard of football he could. Beckham said:
”When I was first thinking about going on loan, obviously I asked his advice on where I should play and he said, ‘All I can say to you is play at the highest level’.”
However, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player refused to look back with regret at his decision to move to America:
”I have always made decisions never regretting anything in my career and my life. At the time I felt it was right for me and I have had great times there. Who knows, I might enjoy myself in the MLS again in the future. It’s nothing against the league. It’s just I have enjoyed myself so much here I want to stay for a while.”
Milan general manager Adriano Galliani earlier claimed Beckham’s lawyers were in talks with LA Galaxy over extending the midfielder’s stay at the San Siro. While Beckham did not believe talks had reached that stage, he does expect both clubs to discuss a deal in the coming days:
”The Los Angeles Galaxy have always been very nice to us and have behaved in a very gentlemanly manner. There is time until March 8 to get us round a table and close a possible deal.”
A former manager of David has stated that he believes that a permanent move to Milan is just what Beckham needs. Sir Alex Ferguson, who managed Beckham for ten years from when Beckham started his career at United until 2003, when he joined Real Madrid, believes that Beckham will join Milan:
“It would be the most natural thing he could do, to get back into the real hotbed of football. This is a golden moment for the lad and I think he’ll take it. If the two clubs can work out a
deal then I think it will happen. If they [Milan] give him that opportunity it would be silly not to take it. He’s had a spell at Galaxy and, fine, they’ve paid him an awful lot of money and they should have some loyalty from him. But being selfish, if I was given the chance to go to Milan, I would take it. There’s no chance he can do it in two years.”
It is widely believed that the main reason that Beckham may be unable to join AC Milan is his family. Beckham’s wife, Victoria or “Posh Spice”, seems to have settled into the Hollywood lifestyle of Los Angeles. Their three children, Brooklyn (9), Romeo (6) and Cruz (3) have all made lots of friends and are enjoying their school and activities and consider LA their home now. Apparently, there just aren’t enough Italien fashion boutiques to lure Victoria out of California. Victoria flew in from LA on Friday 6th February to be re-united with Beckham, and to discuss the proposition of moving to another huge European city. The family – including David’s mum and dad and Victoria’s mum and dad – will then go to watch Beckham in action for Milan. They will all then report to London so that Beckham can train with the England squad for next week’s friendly against Spain.
Beckham described MLS football as “frustrating” and Serie A as “special”, an even bigger hint that Beckham wants to stay. Coach Carlo Ancelotti and Vice-president Adriano Galliani have both expressed a desire for Beckham to stay at the San Siro.
Beckham is a huge hit in Italy. AC Milan shirts with “Beckham” on the back are selling like hot cakes. Apparently, the jerseys are selling at a similar rate to that of two-time World Player of Year, Ronaldinho. AC Milan Marketing Director Laura Masi said:
“It’s an exceptional case as Ronaldinho was signed permanently, while Beckham, so far, is just a temporary player. The Beckham effect is significant. The increase in sales is comparable to the first month’s sales of Ronaldinho’s shirts.”
Beckham has had to win over the crowd at the San Siro after getting a muted response when he was introduced in December. He’s helped stabilize the seven-time European champion, who also want him to stay beyond March, when he’s due back in the U.S. Beckham is trying to stay fit during the American offseason and retain a place in the England squad. Ronaldinho, who was voted the world’s best player in 2004 and 2005, was signed for as much as 25 million euros ($32.1 million) in July after leaving Barcelona. His contract expires in 2011. On Saturday (7thFebruary) night, LA Galaxy revealed that they had rejected an offer from AC Milan to convert the loan deal into a permanent one. The Galaxy say that Milan’s bid, which is reportedly anywhere between £6.7 million and £13.5 million, is not high enough. Tim Leiweke, chief executive of Los Angeles Galaxy’s owners, AEG, said:
“We need to end the distractions, the circus and the zoo. We just received an offer. It was rejected.”
It sounds like Beckham wants to leave, but I can see why Los Angeles Galaxy would be pretty unhappy if the superstar left the soccer club. However, I think that the move would benefit Beckham himself, AC Milan and the England national side, because Beckham brings so much to the team.

A short biography

David Beckham has been both a hero and a villain in the eyes of English football fans. After a bad-tempered kick on Diego Simeone in England’s 1998 World Cup clash with Argentina, he was cast as the villain of the piece. But, by the end of the 2002 World Cup, he was universally regarded as England’s new hero. His fantastic ball skills, superb distribution and the quality of his dead-ball kicks were always acknowledged – but he picked up leadership skills as well to make him a more complete player.
As a youngster, Beckham had trials with Leyton Orient but it was Manchester United who signed him just after his 16th birthday. He made his United debut against Brighton in the League Cup in September 1992, but had to wait until April 1995 to get his Premiership debut. He established himself in United’s midfield in the next season and was given an international call-up by then-England manager Glenn Hoddle. His corners and free-kicks became a trademark for the midfielder.
It hasn’t always been football for Beckham in his career, though. Brazilian legend Pele once remarked that:
“Beckham is more of a pop star than a footballer”
There have been alleged affairs (which Beckham strongly denies), various product-promoting contracts, such as Brylcreem and the lifestyle that was the envy of millions. On the field, however, defenders were being terrorised by Beckham at every moment. Just like George Best before him, flooring the boy wonder was the only way defenders could stop him.
His most memorable moment will be scoring against Wimbledon in 1998. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Beckham receives the ball on the half-way line, looks up, sees the ‘keeper off his line and lobs with superb accuracy and elevation.
Beckham won 15 trophies whilst at Manchester United, including six Premiership titles and the Champions League, from the treble year of 1998/99. That was one of Manchester United’s most famous years, not least of all because a lot of the players were young and quite inexperienced, like Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Beckham. With Real Madrid, Beckham won the La Liga and the Supercopa de España. With Galaxy, he has so far won nothing, and the same applies to international competitions with England. At Milan, he could win so many things, and he could regain the frightening form that he used to have under Sir Alex Ferguson.