Steve Harper Testimonial Special: Newcastle Greatest Xl v AC Milan Greatest Xl - Who Wins?
Newcastle Greatest XI by Chris Donald
GK - Shay Given
Played for the Mackems on loan when he was at Blackburn in the mid-90s, but all that was forgiven when he signed for us. Saved innumerable games for us with his brilliant shot-stopping. Shay would have walked into the England team if he’d been English. Over 350 appearances in 12 years at the club. Arguably the most consistent keeper in the Premiership in his time at United. 8
RB – Bill McCracken
Irishman Bill McCracken’s famous offside trap was so good in 1925 they changed the rules. Captained his club and country, 377 league appearances for Newcastle, winning three league titles and getting us to three FA Cup finals. Tidy defender. Away fans hated him, Geordies loved him. That’s how it should be. 9
LB – Frank Hudspeth
You couldn’t pick McCracken without also picking his defensive partner Frank Hudspeth. A proper Geordie, his first club was Scotswood. He played more games for Newcastle than any other outfield player – 482 appearances in total between 1910 and 1929. Chipped in with 38 goals as well. 8
SWEEPER – Bobby Moncur
Defensive stalwart in the sixties and seventies, captained the 1969 Fairs Cup winning team (and knocked in a hat trick in the final just for good measure). Captained United and Scotland too. Spent his twilight years at Joker Park working on his pension fund, but nobody’s perfect. A talented all-rounder, Bobby plays golf and does a bit of sailing too. 8
CH – Jonathan Woodgate
I’m taking a chance here, cos he might well be injured. Only managed a handful of games for us, but I’ll tell you what. He never put a foot wrong when he did actually make it onto the pitch. I sat and watched him one game, all the way through, and he never even broke sweat. Positioning, awareness, reading of the game – brilliant. Just a shame he was such a crock. 7
CM – Joe Harvey (Captain)
Right-half in his time, I’d pick Joe to play a holding midfield role and to boss the entire game. A great leader both as captain of the fifties FA Cup winning teams and then as manager of the Fairs Cup winning side, he’d run the show. And he’d share his tabs with the other players at half-time. 9
CM – Paul Gascoigne
Mercurial, magic and absolutely mental. At his young, chubby best he was unbelievable. A daft Geordie lad who loved playing football and happened to be better at it than anyone else in the world. He’d need looking after on and off the pitch, but Joe Harvey and Alan Shearer can do that. 10
LM – David Ginola
“David who?” James Brown asked me when we signed him in 1995. “I dunno” I said. But we soon found out. A bit of a ponce if the truth be told, but what a player. His home debut against Middlesborough was simply unbelievable. Bit of a lazy tw*t as well – Bill McCracken won’t get much cover from him – but an affordable luxury with such a solid defence behind him. 6
RM – Alan Shearer
There’s no room for him up front, but I can’t omit Alan Shearer from the side. So I’ll play him in right midfield. One of the best crossers of a ball I’ve ever seen – witness Les Ferdinand’s goal in the 5-0 thrashing of man United – it was just a shame Shearer couldn’t get on the end of his own crosses. His heart is black and white, you could play him anywhere in the side. 10
CF – Jackie Milburn
I never saw him play but I saw his house - my Dad used to point it out every time we drove past it. 494 appearances and 239 goals between the war and 1957. Three FA Cup winners medals. I think Shearer pipped him in the end for his goals tally, but Wor Jackie remains the all-time legend so I’ll give him the number 9 shirt. 10
FW – Peter Beardsley
A girl who used to work for me grew up in the same street as Beardsley. “All he ever did when he was a kid was eat sweets and kick a ball against a wall, for hours on end”, she told me. And it shows. Terrible teeth but a magical touch, Absolute footballing genius, scorer of brilliant goals, and the perfect foil for a big striker. And the fourth born Geordie in my team. 9 (loses a point
for his physical appearance).
Manager – Kevin Keegan
Couldn’t choose him as a player because we didn’t see the best of him in his boots, but as a manager he lifted the club from dire straits to the very verge of the Premiership title, and he brought brilliant players and brilliant football to the Toon. Couldn’t organise a defence to save his life, but with the team I’ve chosen defence won’t be a problem, and neither will attacking. 9
Newcastle Total: 103
AC Milan by Salvatore Landolina
GK- Fabio Cudicini
The father of Tottenham shot-stopper Carlo helped Milan win their second European Cup in 1969, and their first Intercontinental Cup the same year. He also won a Scudetto, Cup Winners Cup and Coppa Italia in his 183 games for the club.7.
RB- Marcos Evangelista de Morais (Cafu)
Nicknamed the ‘pendolino’ for the speed and power at which he blitzed down the flanks. He arrived at Milan a World Cup winner twice with Brazil 1994 and 2002, and he won the Champions League with the Rossoneri in 2007 against Liverpoolin Athens, as well as the FIFA World Cup that year. 8.
CB- Alessandro Costacurta
Alongside Franco Baresi, Costacurta is arguably Milan’s greatest ever centre-back. He won five European Cups, seven Scudetti, two Intercontinental Cups and a hoard of other trophies in a 20-year career at San Siro. 10.
CB- Franco Baresi
Milan retired the number six jersey when Baresi hang up his boots in October 1997 after two decades at the club. A legend in his own right and one of the greatest defenders the world has seen. He captained the team to great success including three European Cups, two Intercontinental Cups, six Scudetti, three European SuperCups and many others. 10.
LB- Paolo Maldini
Perhaps the greatest defender of all time in the history of world football – the model footballer in every sense. 26 trophies in 25 years at Milanello says it all, among those were five European Cups and as many Intercontinental Cups as well as seven Scudetti. 10.
RM- Dejan Savicevic
The Montenegrin winger will best be remembered for his stunning lob over Barcelona goalkeeper Andoni Zubizaretta in the 1994 Champions League final as Milan bashed the favourites 4-0 in Athens. A classy midfielder who also won three Italian titles and a European SuperCup. 7.
CM- Gianni Rivera
Played under the legendary coach Nereo Rocco and alongside Giovanni Trapattoni to help Milan win their first European Cup at Wembley in 1963 against Eusebio’s Benfica. He repeated the feat in 1969 with another European Cup. He became the first Italian to win the Ballon D’Or whilst playing for the Rossoneri. 8.
CM- Frank Rijkaard
A versatile midfielder who played alongside Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten, Rijkaard was part of the team who won back-to-back European Cups in 1989 and 1990 when he scored the only goal of the game against Benfica. 9.
The world stood up and took note of Kaka when his three goals against Manchester United over both legs of the 2007 semi-final saw Cristiano Ronaldo live in the shadows. Kaka was Milan’s passport to the Athens final where he helped his team exact revenge over Liverpool for the heartbreak of Istanbul two years earlier. He also won the FIFA Club World Cup. That stellar season rewarded him with both the Ballon D’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards – simply sensational. 9
CF- Ruud Gullit
The Dutchman had it all when he arrived at Milan for the 1987/88 season as the world’s most expensive player and Ballon D’or Winner. He proved his worth on the pitch with force and effect and scored twice in the 1989 European Cup final in a 4-0 win over Steaua Bucharest. Won it again the following year. 9.
ST- Marco Van Basten
One of the greatest strikers of all time and the most complete. Van Basten had everything in his locker and his quality helped Milan conquer the European Cup three times. He also won two Intercontinental Cups and four Serie A titles among other trophies. Three Ballon D’Or’s during his time at San Siro pay homage to a true great. Sadly his high-profile career was curtailed by an ankle injury which forced his retirement at just 30 in 1995. 10.
Manager- Carlo Ancelotti
Nils Liedholm, Fabio Capello, Nereo Rocco and Arrigo Sacchi could have made this list, but Ancelotti is, perhaps, Milan’s best-ever coach. He won 17 trophies as a player and manager at the club. As a coach he won the Champions League twice in 2003 and 2007 having already conquered the European Cup as a player in 1989, and then 1990. Led Milan to the 2007 Club World Cup. Delivered the Scudetto in 2004 after a five-year drought. 9.
Total Score: 107