by Jack Howes
Eboue Kilcline Ruddock Assou-Ekotto
Kinkladze Okocha Le Tissier Ginola
Balotelli Cantona (c)
GK – Neville Southall
Nev was a superb goalkeeper, making 578 appearances for Everton, being a key part of the superb mid-1980’s Everton side which won at home and abroad as well as Joe Royle’s ‘Dogs of War’ side that won 1995 FA Cup.
But he’s remembered for his vast bulk which made him look more suited to snooker halls or on the oche playing darts than on a football pitch, snazzy moustache, cartoon-like agility along with his refusal to go to the dressing room at half time against Leeds in 1990 when annoyed at being 3-0 down and the bizarre incident where he took his own daughter to court to get back some medals from his career he’d given to her. He’s completely crackers. Perfect for this side then.
RB – Emmanuel Eboue
Eboue started out as a waiter in Great Yarmouth, moved to Beveren in Belgium, then arrived at Arsenal in 2005.
At Arsenal he really was a paradox. Brilliant surging runs and great moments of skill were mixed with ludicrous errors and incredibly bad dives. After a good start at Arsenal and a good performance in the 2006 Champions League final, he was booed off by his own fans two years late when after coming on as a substitute he was so bad he was substituted off himself. Then he came quite good again, before giving away the most needless of needless penalties against Liverpool last season and letting them equalise in the 103rd minute of the match.
That’s not to mention his habit of food going up his nose, him being “Funnier than most comedians” (Emmanuel Adebayor) and the time he arrived at a party for Gilberto Silva (not a fancy dress party I may add) dressed as a tiger, hid behind the front door and stunned his fellow guests by roaring like someone in the throes of sexual ecstasy.
CB – Neil Ruddock
Like with Neville Southall, Razor Ruddock gave hope to the Sunday morning hungover pot-bellied footballer.
He was a big lump, with a surprisingly cultured left foot, strength in the air and he was unlucky to only play once for England. That was though after the drinking, womanising, the crashing of his £80,000 Porsche and his habit of forcing his wife’s head under the covers whenever he farted. That goes alongside darker allegations of him deliberately breaking Peter Beardsley’s jaw and Andy Cole’s legs. Nonetheless he was a popular figure who certainly liked a good time, was an underrated footballer and can’t say on his deathbed that he hasn’t lived his life.
CB – Brian Kilcline
Killer Kilcline is remembered mostly in his spell at Coventry in the late 1980’s, including their 1987 FA Cup win. However he did play around a dozen games for Swindon when they were the first and only Premiership side to conceded 100 goals in a season in 1994.
He was a solid player who late in his career became a journeyman for lower league sides, living on a barge which he would simply carry round with him to whatever new club he signed for. But that’s only half the story. There was the terrifying crazed hair and beard; his penchant for heading balls an inch off the ground; his large tally of own goals; his habit of wearing black, and scariest of all, the time a caller on one of Danny Baker’s superb shows talked about drinking with young Brian, and Kilcline mentioning his wife being ‘a very powerful woman’. The caller was then asked at differing points in the evening whether he had sold his soul to the devil, and whether the soul was truly immortal. Brian Kilcline – Britain’s most frightening footballer?
LB – Benoit Assou-Ekotto
Benny is simply the best left-back I’ve seen play for Spurs. He defends solidly, attacks smoothly and does it all with an insouciance and swagger rarely seen at the Lane.
Benny is a cult hero in every sense. There’s his habit of doing Cruyff turns and mazy dribbles when under pressure from some hairy-arsed opposition winger near his own goal. His afro and dreads. His community work, getting his hair cut in a local a barber’s and actually putting a foot in Tottenham (a very rare occurrence). The fact he travels around London on his oyster card like a normal human being. Then there’s his honesty, where he said he didn’t enjoy football and was in it for the money. Refreshing and frank in the modern game.
RM- Georgi Kinkladze
Georgi-boy was a frail lad from Georgia who looked nothing like a footballer. He wasn’t tall or strong. What he had though was incredible skill and dribbling ability, which was the only shining light for Man City fans who endured multiple relegations while United won everything.
Kinkladze arrived largely unknown in Britain, and in true British football style put up in an unfancy hotel. So he got his Mum to come over to Britain and cook him some familiar Georgian food, and after that he dazzled fans and gave defenders spiral blood with incredible dribbles that resulted in magnificent goals, sensational runs and also lots of dribbles that went nowhere and saw the ball dribble out for goal-kicks and throw-ins. He also memorably crashed a Ferrari into a motorway bridge in Hale. Nonetheless he was voted Player of the Year twice by City fans, and ranked 3rd in a BBC all-time cult hero poll in 2005.
CM – Jay-Jay Okocha
So good they named him twice. He only scored 14 goals for Bolton, but almost all of them were memorable for their sheer brilliance.
His talent was always there, he played for Fenerbahce when they subjected Man United to their first ever home defeat in Europe, did this to Oliver Kahn playing for Eintracht Frankfurt and was transferred for $24m to PSG in 1998. He was a flop there, and a free transfer for Bolton in 2002. At Bolton, he was a sensation. Sensational dribbles, amazing goals, not the greatest work rate but sensational body swerves and mazy runs defined him as a cult hero. Perfect for this team.
CM – Matthew Le Tissier
Le God. Simply the greatest player ever to play for Southampton, and definitely the best footballer to ever come from Guernsey.
His self-confessed biggest vice wasn’t drink, drugs or gambling but a KFC bargain bucket. He was notoriously lazy. He was also sensationally skilful, and capable of scoring goals like this. He chipped Peter Schmeichel. He scored with 47 from 48 penalties. He was a childhood inspiration for Xavi. And best of all, he rejected moves to Spurs and Chelsea to stay at Southampton for his entire career, never being paid for more than £3900 a week, simply because he enjoyed playing on the South Coast. That in my eyes only increases his greatness, playing for pleasure and not trophies and money.
LM – David Ginola
In a grim time to support Spurs, with a Gooner manager in George Graham, defensive football and a drab team closer to relegation than to the top of the table, Ginola was the only player to give fans any real pleasure.
He made his name in England playing for Newcastle, where notoriously he was shown around the city of Newcastle when he signed and had his wife cry in the back of the car, so distraught was she at the prospect of living there. Nonetheless he was excellent there, and sold by Kenny Dalglish who at Newcastle built an eyesore of a team. At Spurs he was our best player since Gascoigne. Superb dribbles, magical touches, wonderful crosses and the occasional superb goal. He was loved. And he had great hair and did adverts for l’oreal. Then George Graham, unhappy at having a winger who for his skills was never one for tracking back and marking his man, sold him to Villa. At Villa he fell out with John Gregory, and responded to being told he was unfit by scoring and then taking his shirt off to reveal the body of a Greek god.
CF – Mario Balotelli
Super Mario’s getting a bit of a bad rep at the moment. His sending off against Arsenal and Man City’s sudden burst of goal scoring without him in the side have left Mario out in the Manchester cold and likely sold in the summer.
I hope he isn’t though because he’s a great footballer, and at heart a decent lad who’s eccentricities and bizarre episodes add a touch of glamour and craziness that football needs. His antics have been documented widely, and even though a lot of these antics were made up, this guy still ended up in the middle of a women’s prison to ‘see what was going on’, flying to Italy and interrupting a press conference to wish good luck to his former youth team coach becoming Inter Milan boss, wearing an AC Milan shirt on a talk show while playing for Inter and him going to John Lewis with the aim of buying an ironing board and ended up purchasing more kid’s toys than you see at Hamley’s. There’s also the sendings off, the t-shirts, the lack of goal of celebrations. And he’s pretty good at football.
CF – Eric Cantona
King Eric is simply one of the greatest ever players to grace the English Premier League. He’s also quite possibly the most enigmatic.
He grew up in Marseille, in a cave that was formerly a lookout for the Wehrmacht in WW2. When he became a footballer, he insulted his national coach on TV, threw away his Auxerre shirt when substituted, fought with teammates, threw a ball at a referee, was banned for a month and an incensed Eric went to each member of the disciplinary committee to call them an idiot. His ban was promptly doubled, and he decided to go to England.
He joined Leeds, helped their push to the title in 1992, then with United mid-table late in 1992 and unsuccessful in bids for David Hirst and Brian Deane, they signed Cantona. He promptly was the driving force behind United’s titles in 1993, and also achieved the feat of being sent off in successive matches in 1994. Then in 1995 came his most infamous moment, kung-fu kicking the Palace supporter, which saw him give that press conference and be sentenced to community service. He came back in late 1995 to inspire United to two more titles, conjuring this magnificent goal and image, and did all that with the upturned collar and arrogant strut that indicated he was better than the rest. He retired aged 30. A great, great player.