In the past decade, we’ve witnessed many great players to grace the Football League. Some now coaching, some still going strong and some now living the dream at the top level of English football. The Football League and the Football Manager online community have partnered up to search for the Football Leagues (Championship, League One and League Two) best XI of the past decade to mark 10 years of Football League awards. I went ahead to challenge some of their names to my own XI…
Manager – Ian Holloway
When you have a team, you need a motivator at the helm to take charge. For the gaffer, I’ve chosen Bristolian born Ian Holloway. Some may have their critics on his lack of focus to defend at times, but this man gets the job done and in style. Ian believes in the philosophy that goals win you matches and that was proven in his incredible spell at Blackpool. The Seasiders were favourites for relegation in the 2010 Championship season, but Holloway saw them in a different light and guided them to the Barclays Premier League after a 3-2 victory over Cardiff City in the Play-Off Final. Holloway has also won major honours at Q.P.R and Crystal Palace.
GK – Julian Speroni – Crystal Palace
Maybe not quite the height you’d ask a goalkeeper to be (6’1) compared to some giants, especially in a very physical league, however, when you’re looking for consistency, commitment, desire and passion; look no further than this Argentine. Speroni, 35, signed for Crystal Palace in 2004 from Scottish club Dundee United, going on to make 302 appearances for the London club in the Football League.
The veteran is now making his name known worldwide, playing regularly in the Barclays Premier League. He has also saw his side involved in a Carling Cup semi-final and has found himself much loved among the Palace faithful being named supporters’ player of the season on four separate occasions.
RB – Graham Alexander – Preston North End
Despite his position at the back, Scottish defender Graham Alexander is no stranger to a goal in any division. Yes, it may be from a ‘wee’ 12-yards, but he is a cult hero to Preston fans nonetheless. With 372 appearances and 54 goals for The Lilywhites, he has been renowned for his exceptional reading of the game and carried this trait in to management with League One outfit Fleetwood Town.
CB – Rodger Johnson – Wycombe Wanderers/Cardiff City
Johnson spent the majority of his career at Wycombe Wanderers (2000 – 2006) where he won PFA player of the year, before moving to Cardiff where he won the same award for his performances in a higher division. Johnson is known for his glancing headers in defensive and attacking areas scoring 41 goals in his career, not bad for a man who spends most of his minutes at the back.
CB – Ashley Williams – Swansea City
A center-back who is equally brilliant with the timing of his challenges as well as his distribution. The 49 time capped Welsh international is a real ball playing defender, capable of switching the ball to either wing from the back with pin-point accuracy. Williams has seen his Swansea side promoted on two separate occasions and now finds himself playing in the Barclays Premier League. His performances have brought the attention of many top clubs in England including Arsenal.
LB – Dean Lewington – MK.Dons
With many candidates for the left-back spot, MK.Dons’ Dean Lewington finds his place due to his commitment and consistency in performances for his club. Having made over 500 appearances (cup & league), Lewington found his 500th game for the club dubbed “Orange4Lewie” due to his hair colour. The theme was to make the stadium as orange as possible which brought to much amusement for the MK Dons faithful that day.
WM – Peter Beagrie – Scunthorpe United
A familiar name and face to many associated with the Football League and some may forget the impact he had on the football pitch. Beagrie was renowned for his somersault celebrations as well as being a cult hero among Scunthorpe United fans. The ever lasting winger had abundance of work rate, with quick feet as well as delivering a mean cross. He dropped all of three divisions to join Scunthorpe after playing in the top division of English football. He ended his Irons career in 2006 and went on to have a brief spell at Grimsby Town.
CM – Leon Britton – Swansea City
Began his career at West Ham before joining Swansea City in 2003 helping the Welsh side avoid relegation from division four. Britton has since appeared in every professional English division climbing an enormous league ladder with Swansea and now plays in the Barclay’s Premier League. Britton is not an instinctive goalscorer, but possess the composure that even Andrea Pirlo would be proud of under immense pressure. He looks to play in front of the back four and always seems to have time on his side.
CM – Peter Whittingham – Cardiff City
He may not run, he may not make that last ditch challenge through the mud, but what this lad does have is a wand of a left foot. Beginning his career in the Midlands at Aston Villa, Whittingham made his transfer to Cardiff City in 2007.
The Nuneaton born midfielder was highly criticised in his earlier days at Cardiff, bring called “lazy” and “gutless”. However, he more than made up for in abundance with his left boot in order to deliver, create and of course score a worldly of goals. He has been nicknamed the “shy assassin” due to his composure when celebrating.
Whittingham, 30, has so far made over 305 appearances and scored 77 goals in the Football League and thus has earned his place in my XI.
WM – Jason Koumas – West Bromwich Albion
If you give this lad a stage, he will go and perform on it with flying colours. Koumas found himself as a bit of yo-yo player, flirting with both the Premier Division and the Championship. He made his name known at Tranmere Rovers becoming a fans favourite. His skilful performances attracted the interest of West Bromwich Albion where he spent the majority of his playing career. Koumas uses his quick feet to great effect and he also possesses one hell of a strike from distance.
ST – Lee Trundle – Swansea City
Skill, power, determination and a tidy finish; these are just some of the attributes that allowed Lee Trundle to overcome his lack of genuine pace. A name that was more than familiar in South Wales stealing the hearts of, well, all of the Swansea City faithful. Trundle has played for fifteen different clubs since making his professional start for Burscough in 1995 and is now a club ambassador at Swansea City.
ST – Rickie Lambert – Bristol Rovers/Southampton
Much like Trundle, Lambert lacked the pace to beat a man, but was no stranger to a goal. It took him till the latter stages of his career to gain international recognition after signing for Southampton from Bristol Rovers. Many question why Lambert was never given the chance at the top level before, this could have been his pace holding him back. Lambert has scored 204 Football League goals and now plays in the Premier League with European giants Liverpool.
Manager – Eddie Howe
Manager – Gary Johnson
Manager – Nigel Atkins
Manager – Tony Pulis
GK – David Marshall – Cardiff City
GK – Luke McCormick – Plymouth Argyle
CB: Jose Fonte – Southampton
LB – Ian Heart – Reading
CM – Richie Wellens – Doncaster Rovers/Leicester City
ST – Adebayo Akinfenwa – Northampton Town
ST – Gary Hooper Scunthorpe
You can find out the Football Leagues ‘FL Team Of The Decade’ at the annual Awards ceremony on Sunday 19th April at The Brewery, London – the tenth anniversary of the event.
The shortlist for manager of the Team of the Decade will be decided with help from the Football Manager online community.
To find out more about The Football League Awards please visit www.FLAwards.com