GLEN JOHNSON BLOG: This week we asked Brand Ambassador Glen Johnson to select an XI of his former teammates who he thinks were the best he ever played alongside.
I was very lucky to play with some of the best players the Premier League has ever seen, while some of my teammates for England were top class too. I’ve been tasked with picking a best XI of those I played with, so here goes…
Petr Cech (Goalkeeper) – Alisson and Ederson have shown in recent seasons how important a world class goalkeeper is, but for me Petr Cech is the best the Premier League has ever seen. As a defender, it gives you so much confidence to know you’ve got someone between the sticks who is able to come up with those big saves when you need them to and he did that time and again for Chelsea.
Gary Neville (right-back) – I would have liked to have picked myself, but I don’t think Gary Neville is a bad replacement! I was fortunate to play with him for England and he was the model professional. One of the keys to being a successful right-back is consistency and Gary had that in buckets. To win as much as he did at Manchester United showed just how good he was.
Marcel Desailly (centre-back) – To make nearly 700 club appearances and to have over 100 caps for France must mean you’re a pretty handy player and Desailly certainly was. When I moved to Chelsea he was coming to the end of his time at the club, but that didn’t stop me learning loads from him. He had such a presence at the back and marshalled his fellow defenders brilliantly. He was a world class defender and one I’m very grateful to have played alongside.
John Terry (centre-back) – Another defender who was an absolute monster on the pitch. John is the definition of what you look for in a centre-back – physical, resilient and fearless – and he really set an example for everyone he played alongside. A true Chelsea legend.
Ashley Cole (left-back) – He’s England’s most capped defender and it’s not hard to see why. He enjoyed a brilliant career at both Arsenal and Chelsea and there was a period when he was the best left-back in the world. He really understood the balance between attacking and defending which was why he was so highly regarded.
Juan Sebastian Veron (midfielder) – I didn’t play with him for very long while he was at Chelsea, but in the time I did he showed just what a top-quality player he was. He perhaps didn’t quite have the impact in the Premier League that many thought he would, but I don’t think people should underestimate how talented he was.
Steven Gerrard (midfielder) – Just an unbelievable footballer both on and off the pitch. Steven lived and breathed Liverpool and inspired every player around him to be better. There were so many occasions in a Reds shirt when he took the game by the scruff of the neck and changed its complexity completely. I’m not sure you’ll ever meet a player who was as passionate as Stevie was, yet was also the best player on the pitch. One of the game’s true greats.
Frank Lampard (midfielder) – We were very lucky to have two of England’s best ever midfielders in the same team and I was even luckier because I played with both of them. Lampard was the first of the breed of modern midfielders who had the quality to score 15 or more goals a season. He was so consistent for a number of years for Chelsea and the knowledge he picked up during his playing days has left him in a really good position to be a manager.
Luis Suarez (striker) – I’m not too sure many leagues have ever been won almost single-handedly by one player, but Suarez almost managed it! The season we came so close to winning the league he was virtually impossible to play against and some of the goals he scored were absolutely ridiculous. He would do anything to win and was one of the most driven teammates I ever had.
Fernando Torres (striker) – Probably the most natural goalscorer I played with. In his prime, he was unstoppable and made some really top-class defenders look very silly including myself on the training pitch! It’s never easy to come into the Premier League at such a big club like Liverpool and hit the ground running, but Torres took to English football like a duck to water. It was just disappointing we didn’t win more while he was there because he performances alone deserved it.
Didier Drogba (striker) – Didier was just an absolute beast and the thought of doing 90 minutes against him must have given defenders nightmares. He was so physical and never gave you a moment’s let-off. As I mentioned with Torres, it’s not a simple task to hit the ground running in the Premier League, but to do it as quickly as Drogba did showed the talent he had and I don’t think Chelsea have ever truly replaced him since he left.