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Friday 27 April 2012

20 Seasons Awards: Patrick Vieira on the midfielders

Arsenal legend on the 10 contenders in the Premier League's top midfield category

The 10 best central midfield players from the 20 Seasons of the Premier League


As part of the Premier League's 20 Seasons Awards, fans from around the world and a panel of football experts will choose the perfect Fantasy Team from the history of the competition.

Former Arsenal and Manchester City midfielder Patrick Vieira has been one of the stars of the Premier League and has played with and against some of the best in the game.

He tells what makes the other central midfielders on the list so special, and as Vieira is also on the list, Chelsea legend Marcel Desailly talks about the man himself.


"Cesc joined Arsenal from Barcelona in 2003 when I was still at the club when he was only 16 years old, and even at that age we knew that he was a very special talent.

"Even then it was just a question of time before he played in the first team and was able to express himself like he did in the last few years he was at the club."


"He can defend, go forward, create goals and score them too"
- On Steven Gerrard

"I would have to say that Stevie G is one of the best players I have played against. I am a big fan of his. He is a modern player - he can do everything.

"He can defend, go forward, create goals and score them too. There is no doubt that he has been a fantastic player for Liverpool Football Club."


"I played against Paul near the end of his career and he was tough, strong and never gave up.

"Even when I was young I watched him play and what fascinated me was his determination and his fighting spirit. Those qualities mean that he has been a good inspiration to other players."


"There was a mutual respect... Sometimes people just understand each other"
- On Roy Keane

"Roy Keane has the drive and the way that he carried the team, the way he pushed his team to perform, was special. Every single game I played against him I loved it, everybody loved it, and as a player I always looked forward to playing against Manchester United, especially Roy Keane.

"There was a mutual respect between us. You get two players, sometimes we don't need to talk, we just need to look at each other and we understand each other."


"The thing about Frankie is that he can score goals, and lots of them. He is a defensive midfielder and yet he still manages to score 15-20 goals in a season.

"That is unbelievable and it is a fantastic record. If you have him in your team you know that he will only need one chance to score."


"He didn't play like a typical English player, Le Tissier. He was more of a continental player with the way he played and the technique he possessed. And on top of that he also scored some fantastic goals for Southampton."


"He may not have always got the attention he deserved"
- On Claude Makelele

"I played with Claude for France and against him when he was at Chelsea and he was maybe one of the best team players I have seen. He always played for the team.

"He was a bit like Gilberto Silva at Arsenal in that he may not have always got the attention he deserved. These types of players do not get all the focus but they work really hard and sometimes they are some of the most important players in the squad."


"We were together at Arsenal and for France and I really enjoyed playing with Manu. He made me a better player and a better person.

"He made me improve a lot, on and off the pitch, and that's why we are still good friends. It was a real pleasure playing next to Manu and I think I produced my best football alongside him."


"His brain works faster than everyone else's... He makes everything look easy"
- On Paul Scholes

"Paul Scholes is really clever. His brain works faster than anybody else's. That's what makes him special. He has this ability to be in the right place at the right time. Everything he does he makes look really easy.

"When I was at Arsenal there was the rivalry between us and Manchester United, of course, and I played against Scholes, Keane, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham and I believe that was the best four midfield players in the Premier League. It was always difficult to play against them."


"I was with Roy Keane recently and he told me that Patrick Vieira was his toughest opponent.

"Today you can see that players have so much ability. In the past, having the fighting spirit was enough, but now you really need to have basic technical skills.

"But players like Keane and Vieira, they were able to make an impact because of their ability to compete all over the pitch."


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Key Points

  • Premier League is celebrating 20 Seasons
  • Awards for the greatest stars and best moments in Premier League history
  • An expert panel as well as fans will decide on the perfect Fantasy Team