Thursday, April 10, 2008

Foreign Affairs

This month's FourFourTwo magazine has a feature on the 100 greatest foreign players to have graced British football. The full list is:

1: Eric Cantona
2: Dennis Bergkamp
3: Thierry Henry
4: Henrik Larsson
5: Gianfranco Zola
6: Peter Schmeichel
7: Ossie Ardiles
8: Cristiano Ronaldo
9: Jurgen Klinsmann
10: Patrick Vieira
11: Dwight Yorke
12: Ruud Gullit
13: Jaap Stam
14: Eddie Firmani
15: Paolo di Canio
16: George Robledo
17: Bruce Grobbelaar
18: Ruud van Nistelrooy
19: Robert Pires
20: Brian Laudrup
21: Didier Drogba
22: Claude Makelele
23: David Ginola
24: Andrei Kanchelskis
25: Marcel Desailly
26: Bert Trautmann
27: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
28: Arnold Muhren
29: Frans Thijssen
30: Jan Molby
31: Juninho
32: Gianluca Vialli
33: Freddie Ljungberg
34: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
35: Michael Essien
36: Clyde Best
37: Nicolas Anelka
38: Georgi Kinkladze
39: Brad Friedel
40: Petr Cech
41: Lubomir Moravcik
42: Anders Limpar
43: Jay-Jay Okocha
44: Roy Wegerle
45: Sami Hyypia
46: Cesc Fabregas
47: Youri Djorkaeff
48: Kazimierz Deyna
49: Russell Latapy
50: Arthur Wharton
51: Marc Overmars
52: Alexei Mikhailichenko
53: Roland Nilsson
54: Edwin van der Sar
55: Emmanuel Petit
56: Johnny Hubbard
57: Dietmar Hamann
58: Ronny Johnsen
59: Eidur Gudjohnsen
60: Dimitar Berbatov
61: Carlo Cudicini
62: Frank Sauzee
63: Igor Stimac
64: Ricky Villa
65: Mark Viduka
66: Roberto Di Matteo
67: Ivan Golac
68: Craig Johnston
69: Joe Marston
70: Henning Berg
71: Jussi Jaaskelainen
72: Slaven Bilic
73: Albert Johanneson
74: Shaun Goater
75: Gustavo Poyet
76: Harry Kewell
77: Frank Lebouef
78: Benito Carbone
79: Claudio Caniggia
80: Uwe Rosler
81: Mark Bosnich
82: Lucas Radebe
83: Aljosa Asanovic
84: Tore Andre Flo
85: Pierre van Hooijdonk
86: Attilio Lombardo
87: Dan Petrescu
88: Jesper Olsen
89: Antti Niemi
90: Tony Yeboah
91: Nwankwo Kanu
92: Tim Cahill
93: Shunsuke Nakamura
94: Nolberto Solano
95: Paulo Wanchope
96: Aiyegbeni Yakubu
97: Jan Age Fjortoft
98: Phillipe Albert
99: John Harkes
100: Kasey Keller

I certainly can't argue with the top five, as it would probably mirror the selections I would make. But I think that in other parts the list, which excludes all British and Irish players, is flawed.

Brian Laudrup, along with Paul Gascoigne the most gifted player I've ever seen in a Rangers jersey, should be higher than 20th, and though it pains me to say it, Lubo Moravcik and Pierre van Hooijdonk should be higher than 41st and 85th respectively.

Presumably the list is based only on the contributions the players made to British football, otherwise Ruud Gullit would be much higher. But if that is the case, I'd argue that Tony Yeboah, Nwankwo Kanu and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should all be higher.

Meanwhile, the inclusion of Claudio Canniggia over other players to have plied their trade in Scotland is baffling. Nacho Novo has been involved in the Scottish game for longer and has scored more goals; Hans Gillhaus and Theo Snelders were important figures in determining the destination of several trophies in the early 1990s; Jorge Cadete and Andreas Thom were both big figures in the best Celtic team I've ever seen (that didn't win anything).

As for the omissions of Ronald de Boer, Oleg Kuznetsov, Erik Bo Andersen, Peter Van Vossen and Stefan Klos? Those are debates for another day.*

* I'm joking. Except for Klos.


Colin Campbell said...

I agree on the omission of Irish players. How about Welsh players? Where do you think George Best Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs would fit?

Groanin' Jock said...

If the list had included Scottish, Welsh and Irish players playing in England and English, Irish and Welsh playing in Scotland, it would have changed completely. Giggs, Keane, Hughes, Rush, Best, Dalglish, Souness, Law and Bremner would all have walked straight into the top 50 for England and Butcher, Gascoigne, Hartson and Woods would have had no problems making it into the Scottish list.