Les Ferdinand: Perfect XI

QPR, Newcastle and Tottenham legend 'Sir' Les Ferdinand opts for the classic 3-4-1-2 formation...

Goalkeeper
Peter Schmeichel
It was a toss-up between Schmeichel and David Seaman – but I just felt that Peter had a bigger presence, and I had some great battles with him.

Defender
Sol Campbell

I always found Sol a very hard opponent. As a centre-forward I used to look for weaknesses in my opponent. If they couldn't head the ball well I would try to exploit it; if they weren't that quick, I'd beat them for pace. Sol has everything – he's quick, strong and good in the air and it was always a hard match against him.

Defender
Tony Adams

If you are looking for leaders in your team, Tony Adams is your man – he was a leader among men and a great defender. Very difficult to outwit.

Defender
Paolo Maldini

Simply the best left-sided player I have ever played against or seen. The complete defender, Italy's most capped player and captain, and he's played in eight Champions League finals – which says it all, really.

Right midfield
Gianfranco Zola

I had to have him in my side – even if I've got him slightly out of position. I played against him a few times and he is one of the best imports our game has seen. So skilful, yet so committed. He was a credit to the Premier League.

Centre-midfield
Paul Ince

In that position in front of the back four, he is the best player that has played in the Premiership – and in this team he'd need to be! He covered every blade of grass, never shirked a tackle and, like Tony Adams, was great leader. You knew what you would get from Incey week in, week out.

Centre-midfield
Paul Gascoigne

Quite simply the best midfielder I've ever played with. In fact, he had the ability to be best player in the world. Unfortunately we know what happened to him with injuries and whathaveyou, but on his day he was unstoppable with the ball at his feet.

Left midfield
Ronaldinho

I played against him for Leicester in a pre-season friendly a few years ago and he was awesome – even though he wasn't at full tilt. Another attacking player, I know, but this side will never lose the ball, so we don't need many defensive players.

In the hole
Eric Cantona

He probably made the biggest impact of any player – certainly any foreign player – in the history of the Premiership. I will never forget him almost single-handedly pulling back the 12-point lead that Newcastle had over Manchester United in the 1995-96 season and the turning point was when he scored the winner against us at St James' Park.

Centre-forward
Thierry Henry

If you look at what he did at Arsenal with his goalscoring exploits, he'd have to be in any team you pick. He has the rare ability to both make goals and score goals out of nothing.

Centre-forward
Alan Shearer

The best goalscorer in the history of the Premiership has to be in my team. For a while we formed an awesome partnership at Newcastle.

Manager
Sir Alex Ferguson

His record speaks for itself, and he's the only man who could manage a team with so many attacking talents.

Substitutes

Ian Wright
I found it extremely difficult to not put him in my side. He was probably a better natural finisher than Henry but Henry broke his record so it just tipped it in his favour.

Tino Asprilla
He was blamed for Newcastle blowing their chance to win the title, but that was very unfair. He was one of most talented players I have seen. His skill on the ball was second to none and he did things in training you wouldn't believe. On top of that he was a complete loony in the dressing room, so I had to have him in my squad.

Paolo Di Canio
I spent a bit of time with him at West Ham and sometimes you don't realise how good someone is until you play with them. That's how I felt about Di Canio. Everything he did was effortless – he made playing football seem very simple – but was very passionate and great to have in your team.

Dennis Bergkamp
One of the players that I would pay to watch. He played in a similar role to Cantona and Zola, but I felt they were a little more effective.

Patrick Vieira
It was a toss-up between him and Paul Ince for the holding midfield role. Incey just shaded it, because at the height of his game he overcame any challenge that came his way and covered every blade of grass on the pitch. I would have loved to see Vieira and Ince play against each other when they were both at their best – what a battle that would have been. For me, Ince would have just come out on top.

Interview: Louis Massarella. From the October 2007 issue of FourFourTwo.


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