2nd February – Gerard Pique

Gerard Pique has won everything in the game and it is always surprising when he gets criticised by pundits and has to go down as one of the most consistent central defenders in the last 10 years.

Yes it could be argued that the defender, who turns 28 today, has always been in great teams and therefore has never been tested fully but nobody can take away all his winners medals, including the World Cup, European Championship, four La Liga, two Copa Del Rey, two Club World Cup, three Champions League and a Premier League title. It could even be argued that he is one of the few mistakes Alex Ferguson made, letting him go so early in his career.

Pique MU

The defender actually started his career as a holding midfielder at Barcelona but signed his first professional contract with Manchester United and made his debut in October 2004 as a substitute in a League Cup win over Crewe Alexandra. His performances for the reserves earned him an extended contract and would go on to make his full Premier League debut on 29th March 2006 against West Ham as a right back.

During the 2006-07 season Pique went out on loan to Real Zaragoza and formed a solid partnership with Gabriel Milito in the centre of the defence. After 22 games he returned to Old Trafford and was told he would be part of the first team squad and in the 2007-08 season he made enough appearances to pick up a Premier League winners medal but it was in the Champions League where he showed his true potential. He scored on his first start in the competition against Dynamo Kiev and added another against Roma as the club went on to lift the trophy.

Pique RZ

On the 27th May 2008 the defender joined Barcelona and his first season could not have gone much better as he helped the club win a treble, including beating former club Manchester United in the final of the Champions League becoming only the fourth player in history to win the competition two years in a row with different teams. His other Champions League win with Barca was also against his former club and although he has stated he enjoyed his time at Old Trafford it must have made it even sweeter to lift the trophy.

Pique Barca

Throughout his time at the club he has always been first choice and with former captain Carles Puyol retiring he is now seen as the best defender at the club and although things haven’t been so easy for Barcelona in recent years, Pique’s performances have still be very good. With over 300 games at two of the biggest clubs in the world and being first choice for Spain while they were dominating the international stage just proves that he should be considered as one of the best of his generation, especially when there aren’t a lot of great central defenders around at the moment.

The final word can go to his former manager at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola. “I do not believe that there is any other player in Europe playing at his level. He is very competitive and ambitious. He is strong in the air and dominates at set pieces.”

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7th November – Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand has been banned recently by the FA because of comments he made on Twitter and he has been judged harsher as he is seen as a role model.

Now at the age of 36 the central defender should probably know better and it is good to see that the FA have decided to take action against someone perceived as a role model, however they should probably be dealing with other things first rather than a comment on Twitter. But Ferdinand will be hoping that he can finish off this season on good form and be remembered as a great defender.

Ferdinand started his career at West Ham and made his debut on the final day of the 1995-96 season after coming on as a substitute against Sheffield Wednesday in 1-1 draw. Before breaking into the West Ham team on a regular basis he went out on loan to Bournemouth in November 1996 and made his debut in a 1-1 draw with Blackpool. He played 10 games during his spell at the club and returned to Upton Park in January 1997. He got more and more first team chances and was awarded the Hammer of the Year award at the end of the following season at the age of 19.
Ferdinand WH
He would barely miss a game for the club over the next few seasons but in November 2000 he made the move to Leeds United for a British transfer record of £18 million. Despite a tricky start, he recovered to prove that he was worth the money the club paid and helped the club reach the semi finals of the Champions League in his first season, scoring against Deportivo La Coruna in the quarter finals. In his second season at the club things got even better on a personal level as he was given the captain’s armband because of his fantastic performances but unfortunately the club began to suffer financial problems and their star players needed to be sold.
Ferdinand LU
On the 22nd July 2002 Ferdinand transferred to Manchester United and again broke the British transfer record. He got off to a good start and helped the club win the Premier League in his first season at the club but then he almost ruined his career in September 2003. After failing to attend a drugs test he was given an eight month ban and he may have never been given another chance. But he did return and on the 14th December 2005 he would go on to score his first goal for the club in a 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic and then would later become a hero by scoring a last minute winner against Liverpool and then repeated it by scoring against them in a 2-0 win in the following season.

The 2006-07 season was arguably his best season as he helped the club win the title once more and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. The next season started brilliantly as the club kept six clean sheets in a row and Ferdinand chipped in with a goal against Aston Villa. During the season he had a ups and downs as he was involved with a steward in a defeat against Chelsea but on the pitch, he would lead his team to glory in the Champions League after beating the same opponents in the final.
Ferdinand MU
Afterwards most of his time at Manchester United was disrupted by injuries but during his spell at the club he won six Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups, one Champions League and one Club World Cup so he will go down as one of the best. After being released he signed for QPR on the 17th July 2014 but he has struggled for form and the club have performed better when he has not been in the team so this looks like it will be his last season, especially if the club get relegated.

The final word can go to Harry Redknapp. “He’s a great role model. I signed him as 14-year-old, so I know him as well as anyone and I’m just so pleased to have him at the club. I spoke to Ryan Giggs to ask how much training he was doing and how fit he was and Ryan told me that, if he’d been manager at Old Trafford this season, he would’ve still been his No.1 centre-half.”