Best XI Footballers Who Are Over the Hill

Marley Anderson@@91MarleyContributor IIMay 7, 2013

Best XI Footballers Who Are Over the Hill

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    There are many opinions on which 11 players would make up the best team in the world.

    The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi would certainly be in most of them, but what about the superstars of the game that have already enjoyed their best years?

    I have compiled a team of players whose best years are behind them, but could still give any team a run for their money. Every player's selection is based on them not being at the level they once reached in their illustrious careers, so there is no hint of me calling any of them bad players!

    I'm sure there are plenty of names that haven't quite made the list, so feel free to comment and discuss who could or should have made the team.


Goalkeeper: Shay Given

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    There is no doubt Shay Given was once one of the Premier League's finest goalkeepers. 

    When wearing the black and white shirt of Newcastle United, Given was regarded as one of the best stoppers to ever grace the English top flight. 

    However, when the Republic of Ireland international swapped St James' Park for a move to Manchester City, his career started to go downhill.

    Enjoying just one season as City's first-choice goalkeeper before being replaced by current England No.1 Joe Hart, Given was eventually sold to Aston Villa.

    It seemed set that Given would be a regular in Villa's team but again he was dropped in favour of Brad Guzan after one season. 

    Now restricted to cup appearances, the 37-year-old Given could be forgiven for regretting his decision to leave Newcastle in 2009.

Right-Back: Javier Zanetti

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    One of the ultimate model professionals, Javier Zanetti has enjoyed a hugely successful career.

    Inter Milan's all-time record appearance holder, 39-year-old Zanetti has captained Inter to the Champions League title in 2010, as well as making 145 appearances for his native Argentina.

    Despite the hundreds of appearances, Zanetti has only ever been sent off twice in his entire career, playing right-back for the majority of it. The first came in 1999, while the second occurred in 2011: an incredible record for a player who's career has spanned almost 22 years.

    Effective in both attack and defence, Zanetti is a superb part of any team and would certainly captain this one, despite his best years being behind him.

Centre-Back: Jamie Carragher

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    Much like Zanetti, Jamie Carragher is a model professional. 

    A true one-club pro, Carragher has been a rock at the back for Liverpool for over a decade, making 506 appearances over a 17-year career.

    Putting his body on the line week-in and week-out, Carragher is due to retire at the end of the season and take up a career in punditry.

    It's certain that Carragher will show the same passion and desire in the television studio that he does when he's on the pitch for Liverpool. 

    In all honesty, the man who has also represented his country on 38 occasions could still continue in the Premier League for at least another year, as he proved with his display at the weekend in the Merseyside derby. 

    Marking Marouane Fellaini is no mean feat and Carragher did it beautifully, not allowing the colossal Belgian any chance to make a serious impact on the game.

Centre-Back: Ricardo Carvalho

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    Once one of the world's best defenders, Ricardo Carvalho's best days are well behind him. 

    Now 34 and a bit-part player at Real Madrid, the Portuguese no longer scares opposing strikers into surrendering possession and has lost the pace that once served him well.

    Affected by injury in recent years, a number of problems have stopped the veteran defender from proving his quality for Madrid.

    Jose Mourinho, one of Carvalho's biggest fans having signed him at Chelsea and Madrid, said in the summer of 2012 that Carvalho could leave because he wouldn't get much playing time in the upcoming season.

    That in itself is the biggest sign of Carvalho having lost the influence he once had, but he could certainly still do a job for his team.

Left-Back: John Arne Riise

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    Who can forget John Arne Riise's hammer of a left foot?

    No matter which club you support, it's hard to dislike the flame-haired Norwegian. Most fondly remembered for his time at Liverpool, Riise has since returned to the Premier League with Fulham after a stint in Italy with Roma.

    Since returning, audiences in England have not seen any trademark thunderbolts from the left-back, as he still awaits his first goal for Fulham in 64 appearances.

    He is no longer the marauding full back that he once was, although the 32-year-old is certainly still effective when he needs to be for mid-table Fulham.

    Which leads me to believe he could still be a force in this side.

Right Midfield: David Beckham

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    David Beckham: Legend of the game.

    It's hard to say something about the former England captain that hasn't already been said somewhere along the line, but here goes.

    Still showing the enthusiasm for the game that a wide-eyed teenager does, the 38-year-old has been excellent since joining Paris St. Germain in January.

    His long passing, crossing and set pieces are still second to none, while his stamina is incredible for a man of his age.

    He has even reinvented himself as a deep lying centre midfielder as his career has progressed, a sign of a top quality player realising when his pace has eluded him.

    Beckham was at his best when he was a winger though, earning him a spot on my team as a right midfielder, a place that was synonymous with him when the Englishman was in his pomp.

Central Defensive Midfield: Michael Essien

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    Once a powerhouse in the centre of the park, Michael Essien's career has stalled in the last few years.

    When he signed with Chelsea from Lyon in 2005, Essien was comfortably one of the world's best midfielders. Exquisite in the art of defence and attack, the Ghanaian's physical presence in the engine room was enough to drive his team forward when they needed him most.

    However, missing large parts of different seasons with injury has somewhat derailed Essien's progress and ultimately led to Chelsea allowing him to join Real Madrid on loan this season, where he has linked up with former coach Jose Mourinho.

    Now utilised more at right-back than defensive midfield, Essien has enjoyed success while plying his trade at the Bernabeu and could have a future at Stamford Bridge, depending on who takes up the manager's position that Rafa Benitez will leave in the summer.

    Still only 30, Essien would be a perfect fit in the midfield of this hypothetical team.

Central Attacking Midfield: Kaka

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    After he joined Real Madrid for a world record fee of £60 million, Kaka has struggled to repay the massive price tag that he left AC Milan for in 2009.

    It would be harsh to put the drop in form down to Kaka himself, as he has been plagued by serious injuries since arriving in Spain.

    The most serious, a knee injury that required an operation, kept the Brazilian sidelined for eight months, leaving Madrid to sign other players and subsequently push Kaka down the pecking order.

    Recently, Kaka is behind Luka Modric and Mesut Ozil in the Madrid side, although a number of promising substitute appearances have shown that the 31-year-old still has a lot left to offer.

    He'd definitely give our team the quality it would need at midfield.

Left Midfield: Ryan Giggs

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    Can anyone believe that Ryan Giggs is almost 40 years old? Me neither.

    It's a long time since Giggs has torn a defence apart with blistering pace and incredible dribbling, but these days the Welshman uses his brain to cause problems for the teams that try and stop him causing problems.

    In this year's Champions League game with Real Madrid, Giggs was head and shoulders above every other player on the pitch as he chased down lost causes and pressured Madrid's talent-filled midfield into making mistakes and giving the ball away.

    The fact that Sir Alex Ferguson even started a 39-year-old in centre midfield against one of the favourites for the competition was testament to the ability of Giggs and he didn't disappoint.

    Set to continue into his 40th year, Giggs still has an incredible record of scoring in every Premier League season since its inception in 1992-93. It's fair to say anybody that has seen him this year would not bet against him scoring in the next one.

    And he'd certainly be an asset on the wing for our team!

Striker: Miroslav Klose

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    When it comes to strikers, there are many that keep on scoring goals well into their thirties. 

    However, not many are able to net five times in a single game in one of Europe's top leagues. Miroslav Klose can.

    The German netted five goals before being substituted in Lazio's rout of Bologna last Sunday, a sign that class is permanent.

    The ultimate opportunist, Klose produces the goods when it matters for both club and country. His record for Germany in major international tournaments is incredible. Klose is fourth on the list of all-time World Cup goalscorers and has netted 67 times in 126 games for his national side.

    Now 34 and having made a clever switch to Italy, a league renowned for it's slower tempo, Klose is still netting regularly and would be a perfect choice to be one of the striker's in this "Over the Hill XI".

Striker: Samuel Eto'o

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    Samuel Eto'o has somewhat slipped off the radar as one of the world's top strikers since moving to Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011.

    Once renowned as the world's most dangerous attacker, the Cameroonian netted an incredible 108 goals in 145 appearances while in the form of his life at Barcelona. 

    Then boasting one goal every two games at Inter Milan, Eto'o made the surprise move to Russia when Anzhi paid a massive fee for the striker and made him one of the highest-paid players in the game.

    Now 32 and without the electric pace that made him so hard to cope with while in his prime, Eto'o has changed his style of play to make himself more of a creative striker for his team mates and is still one of the most dangerous players for Anzhi as they try and prove themselves on the European stage.

    Eto'o could certainly do a job in my team, despite his best years being behind him.