15 March 2011
On the back of our feature about how Patrick Vieria was selected in 2003 as the best foreign player in English football up to then, we’ve conducted a poll via Twitter @sportingintel to see who our readers and other fans would select in an #AllTimeForeignXI.
Without further ado, below is the resulting composite team as things stands this lunchtime. Peter Schmeichel was the massively overwhelming choice in goal, selected in 70 per cent of the teams.
Theirry Henry appeared in 85 per cent of line-ups, more than any other player, with Vieira the next most popular player (in 81 per cent of teams) then Cristiano Ronaldo (77 per cent).
A four-man defence seemed the way to go, as it was the most popular choice. And we therefore picked the most popular natural right-back (Dan Petrescu) and left-back (Patrice Evra), rather than put centre-halves in those positions.
For the record, Evra was the most selected defender anyway (in 62 per cent of teams). Petrescu (in 23 per cent of teams) did not have as many votes as Marcel Desailly (45 per cent) or Sami Hyypia (34 per cent), but he had more than any other right-back.
Desailly and Hyypia lost out in the centre of defence to Japp Stam (51 per cent) and Nemanja Vidic (47 per cent).
Ronaldo and Vieira were the clear first choices in midfield, with Xavi Alonso pipping Robert Pires for the third berth.
Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Eric Cantona got the nod for all getting more votes than Pires – that’s why we’vre gone with three up front, not 4-4-2, with Bergkamp in the hole.
This dream team hails from Denmark, Romania, The Netherlands, Serbia, Portugal, Spain and (most heavily represented) France. Between them, the players won Footballer of Year in England in 1996 (Cantona), 1998 (Bergkamp), three times between 2003 and 2006 (Henry) and twice 2007 and 2008 (Ronaldo). Our XI also have a sackload of medals.
We think they’d give any challengers a run for their money. The depth of talent is illustrated by the players who missed out on the XI but made the 25-man squad. See bottom of graphic.
For all those who voted, thanks.
Late add: As has already been pointed out, perhaps a more effective deployment of the XI would be 4-2-3-1 with Vieira, Alonso as the 2; Ronaldo, Bergkamp and Henry as the three, and Cantona up front. The debate is endless…