Thursday 04 September 2014
In premierleague.com's series of Best XIs of Barclays Premier League players, Lee Carsley, who played 282 times in the Barclays Premier League for Derby County, Coventry City, Blackburn Rovers, Everton and Birmingham City selects his dream team.
The majority of Carsley's matches came at Everton (166) and his manager at Goodison Park, David Moyes - "the best manager I have ever played under” - is in charge of his best XI. Wayne Rooney, who played alongside Carsley when he scored a stunning winner against Arsenal on his league debut as a 16-year-old at Everton, appears up front in a 4-4-2 formation.
The former Republic of Ireland midfielder also picks a host of his international team-mates who played in the Barclays Premier League and four players from his first club, Derby County. Carsley, who is now helping Barclays Premier League clubs implement the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) as a Club Support Manager at the Premier League, calls his XI a technically gifted side that will keep the ball on the floor due the fact that they have "absolutely no height at all!"
Carsley came through the youth ranks at Derby before making 80 Barclays Premier League appearances with the Rams, and also worked with Coventry's Under-18s after retiring from professional football in 2011. The 40-year-old says he "loves the development side" of football and enjoys the "kick of seeing a young lad make his debut".
As for his own role in the Best XI, Carsley said he would be "club man of the year" and "go to every training session but just won't play!"
Goalkeeper: Shay Given
Now at Aston Villa, Shay Given, 38, has amassed 440 Barclays Premier League appearances at Newcastle United, Manchester City and Villa. Carsley played for the Republic of Ireland with Given who with 125 caps is the country's second-most capped player. "He is the best goalkeeper I've ever played with," Carsley says. "He was really athletic, a fantastic shot-stopper and a good guy to have in the dressing room."
Right-back: Steve Finnan
"Underrated right-back" Steve Finnan has the unique experience of playing in all four divisions of the Football League, having climbed up the divisions with Fulham and spent a loan spell at Notts County. Carsley described Finnan as "a great example for the young ones" after impressing at Fulham and going on to join Liverpool and play in the Reds' UEFA Champions League final victory against AC Milan in 2005.
Left-back: Denis Irwin
"He was right-footed but you couldn't tell," Carsley says of his former Republic of Ireland team-mate, who established himself at left-back in a trophy-laden 12-year career at Manchester United. "Denis was technically very good and was also great going forward," Carsley adds.
Centre-back: Paul McGrath
"I only played with Paul McGrath one season, the 1996/97 campaign, before he retired, but even then he was a fantastic defender," Carsley says. "He was aggressive, quick. That was at the end of his career as well, so God knows what he was like in his peak."
Centre-back: Igor Stimac
Partnering McGrath is another player from Carsley's Derby days, Igor Stimac, who joined the Rams the previous season. "Igor was really calm and cool and a really good influence on me as a player," Carsley says of someone who went on to captain Croatia to a third-place finish in the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
Left wing: Damien Duff
"Damien was so skilful and just a very, very good player,” Carsley says of his former Republic of Ireland team-mate. Duff, who won two Barclays Premier League titles with Chelsea, made 392 top-flight appearances in a career that also included spells at Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and Fulham.
Right wing: Jason McAteer
Another Ireland team-mate of Carsley, McAteer earned 52 caps for his country. "Jason scored goals in big international games," Carsley says of the midfielder, who made 100 Barclays Premier League league appearances for Liverpool between 1995 and 1999. "He played with energy and was good on the ball."
Centre midfield: Aljosa Asanovic
"Asanovic was technically excellent," Carsley says of the first of two central midfielders who competed for places with Carsley at the Baseball Ground. The Croat scored six goals in his only full Barclays Premier League campaign in 1996/97.
Centre midfield: Stefano Eranio
"Stefano was so skilful, you could give him the ball anywhere and he would cope." The Italian spent four years at Derby, all in the Barclays Premier League, and he was a key part of the Rams midfield with Carsley in 1997/98 and 1998/99.
Forward: Wayne Rooney
Carsley was in the Everton team when Wayne Rooney clinched a 2-1 victory against Arsenal in spectacular fashion on his Barclays Premier League debut. "It was good to see him burst on to the scene as a 16-year-old," Carsley says. "You see a talent like that, you see what he can do in training, and you always wonder whether he can replicate that in the first team. His debut summed up how it was going to go, and it summed up his career."
Forward: Robbie Keane
"Robbie was similar to Wayne, he burst on to the scene as a teenager and and just went from strength to strength," Carsley says of his former Coventry City team-mate. "He is a great player who loves football." Keane scored 12 goals in his debut Barclays Premier League campaign with Coventry City and went on to score 126 goals in the competition in a career that has included spells at Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Aston Villa.
To learn more about the Elite Player Performance Plan, which Carsley helps Barclays Premier League clubs implement in his role as a Club Support Manager at the Premier League, click here.