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Former Manchester United Antonio Valencia picks his greatest team-mates – with places for Red Devils legends

Antonio Valencia of Manchester United celebrates scoring his sides third goal during the Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Manchester United at Riverside Stadium on March 19, 2017 in Middlesbrough, England.
(Image credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Former Manchester United captain Antonio Valencia has told FourFourTwo his Perfect XI of former teammates. 

Valencia moved to English football originally with Wigan in 2008 from Villarreal, before his move to Old Trafford. There, he stayed a decade, winning two Premier League titles, taking the fated No.7 shirt (before giving it back) and eventually skippering the Red Devils, too. 

FourFourTwo sat down with him to ask what a team of his best ever team-mates would look like. 

Manchester United star Antonio Valencia picks his Perfect XI…

Antonio Valencia's Perfect XI

Antonio Valencia's Perfect XI (Image credit: Future)

GK: David De Gea

“David gave me peace of mind at Old Trafford – he’s like life insurance as a goalkeeper. He’s a guy with a lot of maturity who’s overcome some difficult moments at United, especially in these last two years with competition from Dean Henderson and criticism in the stands. Despite being questioned at times, he’s vital for the team.”

RB: Ulises De La Cruz

“We played together for the Ecuador national team, and he’d played in England before me with clubs like Aston Villa. As a defender he had great ability to lead by example, and was a player who transmitted that commitment.”

CB: Rio Ferdinand

“Ferdinand and Vidic were the best defensive pair in the world for years. Rio brought a dose of calm in stressful situations, but he also had so much character. He was a good outlet for the ball, positioned himself cleverly and had a commanding voice to lead the team.”

CB: Nemanja Vidic

“Nemanja was a guy who gave everything for the shirt. As an opponent, it wasn’t appetising to come up against him, as he was a strong marker willing to sacrifice himself for others. One of the best team-mates I’ve ever had.”

LB: Patrice Evra

“The best definition of what a captain is – he had enough personality to wear the armband at United. I’m sure people in Manchester remember Patrice’s attacking runs, because he was a physical prodigy with loads of technical quality to find Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney. In the dressing room he was one of those players who took the floor, because he liked to motivate all his team-mates. A champion.”

RM: David Beckham

“A bullet! He has this innate talent to dribble past player after player – he’s just having fun and amusing everyone. Nani is a street footballer, and it was quite a sight to see him play whenever he picked up the ball. He has a decent shot on him, too.”

CM: Marcos Senna

“We spent a short time together at Villarreal, but he showed me he was a team player; one of those who makes a dressing room better. Marcos was a simple guy but displayed great competitiveness on the pitch. He had a good right foot, and I remember him scoring some terrific goals in Spain.”

CM: Paul Scholes 

“Like Lionel Messi, Paul was a player who expressed himself better on the pitch – he didn’t talk a lot, and in the dressing room he was very quiet. With the ball, though, he managed a game’s tempo like nobody else and was the brain of our team. Easily one of the best midfielders I’ve ever played with.”

LM: Ryan Giggs

“His left foot was pure gold. In a dream team, you can’t leave out the player with the most appearances in the history of a club as big as Manchester United. Giggsy was an example as a professional. Every year he looked after himself a little more – that was the only way he could enjoy a long and successful career. He had immense dedication and his winning gene took him to the top.”

CF: Cristian Benitez

“How I miss him! [He passed away in 2013] He was a small striker, but strong and really determined. ‘Chucho’ was an unpredictable player when he turned – I never knew which foot he was going to shoot with.”

ST: Wayne Rooney

“Undoubtedly, one of the Premier League’s greatest ever players. To beat Bobby Charlton as United’s top scorer is only for somebody with the mentality and ambition to improve each and every day. I remember his bicycle kick against Man City at Old Trafford… wow. The instinct Rooney had, I didn’t witness in many others across my career.”

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson

“He was very demanding in every session, and spoke without fear of anything. He said things to our face, no matter who was in front of him. Sir Alex didn’t distinguish between his players.”


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