"Zidane would have to be my holding midfielder − I’d want Gazza bombing on": Ray Parlour names his Perfect XI

Arsenal hero Ray Parlour names the best players he faced during a career 15-year career that saw the 'Romford Pele' win three Premier League titles and 10 England caps...


Peter Schmeichel
The big Dane was a bit of a thorn in our sides during the 1990s. I won that penalty in the last minute of the 1999 FA Cup semi-final and expected Dennis Bergkamp to score, but no, Schmeichel saved it and the rest is history.


Philipp Lahm
I played against Cafu as well, but for me, Lahm is just that little bit better defensively. He is a great passer of the ball, gets up and down, is super-fit and a fantastic leader. He is everything the modern full-back should be.

Franco Baresi
A fantastic ball-playing centre-back. He had such an amazing reading of the game that you didn’t know if he was quick or not. It didn’t matter, he was always just where the ball was. Not many strikers got a sniff against him and he played against the best!

Jaap Stam
The Dutchman would be my solid centre-half who could attack the high-balls and let Baresi sweep in behind him. Stam was brilliant at Manchester United, such an imposing presence and would frighten forwards with his sheer strength and determination. Hard as nails.

Paolo Maldini
I could have stuck Maldini in at centre-back too but for me his best position was at left-back. There might be full-backs who give you more going forward but my midfield would take care of that and anyway, there weren’t many better left-backs in the world than the Italian.


Cristiano Ronaldo
I played against him when he was a young player at Manchester United and you could just tell then that he was something special. He had all sorts of tricks but it wasn’t just for show. He added goals to his game and is now proving himself to be one of the all-time greats.

Zinedine Zidane
I remember being on the pitch and thinking this player glides about, cruising through games, hardly breaking a sweat and can do it all. He was 6ft 2in, could pass, tackle, score, head, dribble. Absolute quality player.

Paul Gascoigne
Zidane would have to be my holding midfielder, because I’d want Gazza bombing on! We all loved Gazza and there haven’t been many finer English players in my lifetime.  No one dropped their shoulder like Gazza.

Ryan Giggs
He adapted with age, but I would go with the early Giggs who used to have so many good games against us at Arsenal. He had such pace, would get you goals, create even more, pass, come inside and track back. I’m well happy with Giggs and Maldini on the left-hand side.


Gianfranco Zola
I played against Dennis Bergkamp and would have him in but we’ll leave Arsenal players out. Little Franco was also a brilliant No.10 who would open teams up with a simple but deadly pass. In this team he’d have to talk most of his team-mates off the ball but one of the great free-kick takers in the game.

The original Ronaldo remains one of the most clinical forwards I ever saw. Again, I played against Thierry Henry and he was fantastic but I’ll go with the Brazilian. Big, strong, aggressive but he was more than just a powerhouse. He'll go down as one of the best goalscorers of all time.


Roy Keane
Strong, a bit nasty and a born leader.

Alessandro Del Piero
A brilliant No.10 with an eye for goal.

Marcel Desailly
Could play midfield or centre-back brilliantly.


Alex Ferguson
His record speaks for himself and has to lead this team.

This interview was originally piublished in the April 2014 issue of FourFourTwo magazine.