Dietmar Hamann: Perfect XI
He had an aura about him. He had very good positioning and reflexes and was always in command. He controlled his goal area and the whole team had confidence in him. We always felt sure that even if a shot came his way he would stop it.
He lost several good years with his injuries and later with illness. But until then he was a player you could always rely on. He had good positioning, was a good tackler and would get forward and score goals from time to time. Defensively he was someone you could trust.
It was easy for me to play with him as we always had an excellent understanding. He was strong and had great reading of the game. He also had great positioning, which enabled him to snuff out a lot of opponents’ attacks before they got going.
He improved enormously from his start at Liverpool when he played on the right and on the left. He learnt a lot and became one of the best defenders in the Premier League. He’s got enormous footballing ability and is always so determined.
One of the best full-backs around. He was incredibly calm. He also had the experience of playing in a lot of big matches and you knew you didn’t have to worry about him. His pace and aggression made him a great attacking option. Very consistent too.
When I played with Olaf for Germany he surprised me. I was blown away by his ability. He could play anywhere; on the left, on the right, in the middle, he was extremely flexible. His injuries reduced his impact with the German national team, but he was the German national team’s midfielder who came closest in ability to Lothar Matthaus.
One of the best midfielders in the world. From when he first got in the Liverpool first team he’s made continuous improvements. For the last six years he’s been without a doubt Liverpool and England’s best midfielder. A great driving force who can tackle, create and score.
I was lucky enough to play with him for several years, both with Bayern Munich and with the German national team. He was a player with dynamic explosiveness, who would create chances for team-mates and was dangerous in front of goal. A complete player.
During his time with Arsenal he was almost unstoppable at times. He could move inside or outside. With his speed it was really difficult to play against him. He could go left and cross it or go to the right and score goals. He was so dangerous.
During his time with Liverpool he was in top form. He’d use his pace and run at defenders. If he got them one-on-one he’d go past them and when he shot it would almost always end up in the goal. He’s always been a great finisher.
The Brazilian was the best striker of the last 20 years. He was especially impressive when he was at Barcelona. With his speed, technique, body swerve and finishing, it was impossible to play against him. He could score goals from almost anywhere.
When he arrived at Bayern Munich it was a very young team. All the players improved enormously under him. I learnt an awful lot in the three or four years I had under him. He knows so much about football, helps to get the best out of players and has a great track record of winning.
I think he’s the best goalkeeper in the Premier League at the moment and unlucky that he has Casillas in front of him for Spain. He’s a great shot-stopper, has good handling and a strong mentality. That’s why it’s hard for opponents to score against him. In the coming years he’ll show that he’s one of the best in Europe.
He has great technique, is extremely dangerous and scores goals from midfield. He hasn’t yet really imposed himself at Chelsea the way he did for Bayern Munich and still does for the German national team, but I hope he can do it this year.
I had the pleasure of playing against him during my career. History shows that he was one of the best players of the past 20 years. He was a complete player – a powerful striker who scored a lot of goals and was very hard to stop.
Interview: Victor Vago. From the November 2009 issue of FourFourTwo.