Sport

Xavi’s All-Star British Dream Team

Ahead of tonight's heavyweight friendly between Spain and England (ITV1 from 7.30pm), we revisit an interview we did with the Catalonian legend Xavi last year, in which he reveals the British all-star team of his dreams.

We suggested a standard 4-4-2 formation, but the midfield maestro went 3-5-2. And who the hell are we to argue?

1. Fraser Forster

“Barcelona have met Celtic four times in recent seasons, and every time Forster put in an incredible performance. In the games we’ve played, he’s made some of the best saves I have ever seen.”

2. Rio Ferdinand

“He is part of Manchester United’s history, playing a big role in winning so many titles. He is strong but he can play. He’ll pass the ball out of defence when he has the opportunity, and that is reminiscent of the Barcelona style.”

3. Sol Campbell

“When we beat Arsenal in the [2006] final, he scored a great headed goal, and it summed up the player he is. The sort of central defender you expect England to produce: big, strong and very hard to get the better of.”

4. John Terry

“I have not always been complimentary about how Chelsea play, because it is the opposite of what we stand for at Barcelona. But I can’t deny that Terry is one of the most committed English players I’ve played against, and a great leader for club and country.”

5. Ryan Giggs

“I recently equalled his record for Champions League appearances with one club, and it shows the class of the man to publicly congratulate me. What impressed me most was that as he got older, he adapted his game. Only the most intelligent players are capable of that.”

6. Paul Scholes

“Technically the best English player since Matt Le Tissier, who I grew up watching. Just unbelievably gifted. Every time I played against him or watched him on TV he made everything look so easy. I’ve never seen anyone make playing that well look so effortless.”

7. Paul Gascoigne

“You must work hard as a player, but there has to be natural ability. [Gascoigne] was a natural genius. He was a real inspiration to me when I was a kid at La Masia, and I just hope that whatever issues he has, he is able to sort them out.”

8. Frank Lampard

“One of the few midfield players in the world with the goal-scoring record of a striker. To consistently score the goals he has from midfield is such an achievement, and technically he’s excellent too.”

9. Steven Gerrard

“John Barnes was one of the first midfield players I remember watching and appreciating his technical skill. Gerrard is just as good and, like Frank [Lampard], he has every attribute you need to be a Barcelona player.”

10. Theo Walcott

“We were playing Arsenal in London [in 2010], and we were winning 2-0, in total control. There was no way we should have done anything but win the game. Then they introduced Theo Walcott. He changed the game for them and it finished 2-2. We didn’t know how to deal with his pace.”

11. Wayne Rooney

“Wayne was very complimentary about the way Barcelona play. He would have fitted into our style of play no problem, but Manchester United would never have wanted to let one of the best players in the world leave. He’s still the player who makes things happen for them.”

(Images: PA/Rex)