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Paul Gascoigne

When I first saw Gazza play on January 1st 1988 for Newcastle United against Nottingham Forest, I was probably too young to fully understand just how good he was... But going off 'Dad's' words... "That boy's gonna be a superstar".

Aged 10, you take what your dad says as gospel and I still vividly remember him, and Mirandinha, terrorising Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest no less. Much to my own agony as a boyhood Reds supporter.


Gazza scored and set one up in a 2-0 win, he would go on to be the face of Italia 90 and would famously become one of England's greatest ever talents. So dad was right, and watching him make my dad purr as a ten year old boy, is something I'll never forget.B

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Stan Collymore

Another player who made my dad purr, but myself even more so, was a Stafford born rogue called Stanley Victor Collymore.

Still to this day I swear that Nottingham Forest fans lucky enough to see this player play, in his pomp, will argue the case against anyone, that he's the best talent they have even seen at the City Ground.

Not many footballers from England could get the ball on the half way line, beat three or four players and smash it home from twenty plus yards, right, or left footed, but Stan did this week in week out, earning a record money move to Liverpool, who unfortunately, although we saw glimpses, never got the best of this mercurial talent who sadly failed to fulfil his incredible potential.

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Ian Wright

It wasn't until I actually watched Ian Wright play live during a match where he was sent off for Arsenal against Nottingham Forest in 1996, that I fully became aware of how the perfect centre forward should play.

His movement and energy was non-stop, never had I seen a striker run more, close down defenders as well, often zig-zagging awkwardly to escape centre halves marking him, in order to make space and to gain that extra yard advantage to create opportunity, ever since I have put him on the pedestal, of how to do it 'Wright'.

His goalscoring was terrific, one of England's finest, and that's down to the tireless work-rate he put in on the pitch. His movement was the best I've seen and as a defender, a real irritant, I would have really hated to mark him.


Marcos Cafu

I remember heading down to the 'old' Wembley stadium in 2000 when England played Brazil, and prior to the game, becoming hugely excited to see such stars as David Beckham, Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, Rivaldo, but inside the stadium, on viewing, one man simply blew me away.

Cafu was already captain of his country, a world cup finalist and two years away from leading seleccao to a global success in Japan & Korea, but I didn't realise just how good he was, until I seen him with my own eyes, in the flesh.

Brazil's furthest forward attacker and last line of defence, his fitness levels the greatest to this day I've witnessed, a modern day wing back who's energy and quality set the tone twenty years ahead of his time, to those who play the game today.

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Luis Suarez

An argument more valid over time asked who was better in the Premier League, Luis Suarez or Sergio Aguero, the question perhaps unfair as Suarez spent only three years at Liverpool, Aguero ten at Manchester City.

But for me, Luis Suarez is one of the greatest footballers I have ever seen in the Premier League. Better than even Aguero, and up there with the likes of Thierry Henry as one of the best overseas stars to play in England.

Like Ian Wright above, the non-stop movement of Suarez was relentless, with a backside bigger than the great Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool's number seven was dynamite, he would run at players, not around them, and getting the ball off him (fairly) was often mission impossible. An elite football brain, a finisher of the highest order, and a complete joy and education to watch play live.

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David Silva

In November 2011 I went to watch world champions Spain take on England for my first ever glimpse of tiki-taka and to watch two players play more than anything, Xavi & Iniesta, but in truth, both were upstaged by this fella.

Silva was brilliant, he kept the ball so well, played in the pockets, creating like an orchestral composer with fluid touches in the final third he glided around in the England half pushing and probing to create chances.

Spain actually lost that day, somehow, it was an international friendly that mattered little, but I since I got to see Silva play many more times for Manchester City, and he never let me down, often the star of the show without really applying the standout moments like a De Bruyne or Aguero, but over the course of 90 minutes he would never seem to waste a pass.

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Xavi Hernandez

Although perhaps upstaged by David Silva on first watching Xavi play live. I was already besotted by that stage, simply drooling at every touch of arguably the best midfielder I've ever had the privilege to watch.

Xavi only played 45 minutes against England in a 1-0 defeat, but that goal would come in the second half, after Xavi had already left the field.

His simple solution to everytime the ball came near him, give it to a mate, no matter where he was on the pitch, or how much pressure he was under, made him one of the most respected footballers in a generation, going on to win everything there is to win.


Andres Iniesta

OK yes, so three of the best eleven players I have seen live were from the same game, but it wasn't until Spain played Republic of Ireland at Euro 2012 in Gdansk, Poland, until I really saw what this man was all about.

That day, in a proper competitive match, on the biggest stage of all, Iniesta dictated, teased, tormented, stood out like a genius on another level to any other player on the pitch, and helped Spain cruise to a 4-0 win in the rain en-route to winning the tournament.

In some ways Iniesta had a bit of Silva, a bit of Xavi, and was probably better than both. A complete wizard with the ball at his feet, he defines the very word the beautiful game and let's not forget, has a world cup winning goal to his name too.

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Luka Modric

A five times champions league winner and a world cup runner up and without any question of doubt the best Croatian footballer ever to have lived.

I got to witness his one and two touch, total football genius for Real Madrid against Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup in 2017, before casting eye again in 2021 at Wembley, against England, where in single goal defeat in the European Championships he dominated the midfield aged 36 years young.

Modric is an always available option for a pass, he see's his own pass before he receives the ball, his work-rate off the ball often un-noticed, his willingness to get stuck in a trait that certainly helps his diminutive frame.

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Cristiano Ronaldo

Perhaps making my list on sentiment rather than for the quality he's shown when watching him play live myself, on the couple of occasion's I've been lucky enough to see Cristiano play, he's been subbed and been sub.

But no-one can argue, he's not one of the greatest footballers of all time, and seeing the hoorah in the flesh that goes with Ronaldo fandom, well that's just as exciting as seeing the player himself play.

Every touch made was with a roar of the crowd before mobile phones are held up for action shots, everyone trying to get a glimpse of a player who's electric pace and frightening technique had him win (almost) everything there is to win, including no less than FIVE ballon d'or.

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Lionel Messi

It could only be Lionel Messi couldn't it?

I was actually lucky enough to see Messi play against his long term nemeses Ronaldo for Argentina v Portugal at Old Trafford in 2014, back then it was nothing more than a low key friendly, but whilst Ronaldo's intentions where showmanship for the archaic crowd who half filled the stadium. Messi was a different beast completely. Picking up the ball and simply running with it faster than the speed of light.

In the Finalissima at Wembley in 2022, Messi near 35 years old was equally ridiculous in front of my very own gleaming eyes. He was player of the match as Argentina thrashed Italy, and although he didn't score, he did everything but.

An icon that makes things happen, his dribbling unique, he seems faster with the ball than without it, I've frankly never seen anything quicker, never seen anything as talented, and to be honest, I'm happy if I never ever see anything better.

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