Ryan Giggs: Perfect XI

Manchester United and Wales legend Ryan Giggs picks a Perfect XI of Champions League opponents from across his long career, back in September 2005.

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Gianluigi Buffon

He's a great goalkeeper. In fact, he's like a centre-forward in some ways, because he'll win you a game with one act of brilliance. He always produces spectacular saves that other goalkeepers would never be able to pull off.

Javier Zanetti

The best full-back I've come up against in the Champions League. He's quick, he's tough, he's strong... but he's also very experienced. He's given me a really hard time whenever I've played against him. He's also a very difficult opponent because he keeps bombing forward, which makes you work extra hard.

Lilian Thuram

Again, a very strong player. Thuram always made it difficult for United when we played Juventus in the Champions League. He was really sharp when moving the ball out from the back, but he was also very athletic, so he'd win a lot of headers and physical battles. But his experience made him great too. He could read games really well.

Ronald Koeman

He was so good on the ball for a defender. His ability was fantastic and he could start an attack from 60 yards away with the ball at his feet. That made him a constant threat. But he was a danger going forward too because he had a real shot on him.

Roberto Carlos
This is difficult because Bixente Lizarazu at Bayern Munich is also a very tough player, but Roberto Carlos is amazing. He's a brilliant defender, but his biggest strength is his ability to get from box to box all the time. He's got so much energy. He's so quick and strong that he's always making you defend rather than the other way round. And he can be lethal from set pieces too.

Right midfield
Luis Figo

The best right-sided player I've ever competed against. Figo's great when he's moving forward in attack and he just loves to beat players. But his distribution of the ball is also fantastic. There's always a threat when he's in possession.

Centre midfield
Zinedine Zidane

For me, Zidane is one of the best players I've ever played against. His touch is amazing – he can do things with a ball that you've never seen before – and he makes it all look so easy. There's so much creativity there, but he never appears flustered in possession of the ball – that's a sign of a great player.

Centre midfield
Edgar Davids

I'd pick Davids because he complements Zidane so well, plus he's pretty fearsome in the tackle and he works really hard for his team-mates. When those two played together at Juventus, he allowed Zidane to be creative, but he was also dangerous on the ball in his own right.

Left midfield
Hristo Stoichkov

Again, he was a complete player. Stoichkov was so imaginative on the ball that you never really knew what he was going to do. But like most of the players I've picked here, he was quick and physical with it.

Andriy Schevchenko

He's got incredible strength when he's powering towards the box. Once the ball's in his stride it's very difficult to stop him. And he's lethal in front of goal! The other thing is that Schevchenko knows he's a good player and that confidence has helped him to get to the level he's reached. He can be pretty unpredictable so you have to be very wary when you play him.


He was just lightning over three yards – it really was unbelievable to watch. Romario would do a Cruyff turn and before you knew it, he'd be gone. He'd leave players for dead and whip the ba�ll into the back of the net. He had a real arrogance and swagger to him as well.

Marcello Lippi

A brilliant coach. We've had so many great battles against him and his Juventus sides that it would be difficult for me to pick anyone else. For four or five years consistently, Juventus were one of the top sides in Europe. When you went to play them, you always knew they'd be very difficult to break down and that was due to Lippi's tactical strength. And his players had a great deal of respect for him too.

Interview: Matt Allen. From the September 2005 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!