The Saturday debate: Which player from the past would you bring back
Paul Scholes and Thierry Henry have returned to The Premier League this month, so Sportsmail asked out panel of experts which player of the past they would like to see return to the beautiful game.
It has to be Gazza. He was a different class at his peak. He’d get greater support in the modern Premier League, management would have a better understanding of his personality. If Gazza played in the Premier League, there’d be not so much talk of Wayne Rooney’s talents. And, if I’m being ultra greedy, I’d love to see Maradona play the modern game and compare his wand of a left foot with Lionel Messi’s.
A superstar: Paul Gascoigne
George Best. Simply the greatest player to have graced these shores. A genius. I’d love to see him in the modern game, he’d cause mayhem.
Paul Gascoigne. Firstly, because nobody would appreciate it more. Secondly because I’d love to see him back in the England team. But mainly in the vain hope that, knowing what we know now, things might just turn out differently for him this time.
Peter Osgood. Ossie was a hero of mine. I used to love watching him play as a Chelsea fan growing up. He was a top centre forward and a big-game player who always scored in the biggest fixtures.
Chelsea's finest: Peter Osgood
Patrick Vieira. If you didn’t give him the ball straight away, he would scream at you. Everything went through him. He was a colossus. Yaya Toure is the modern-day equivalent but Patrick edges him out. He was a true leader.
Graeme Souness. Let’s see if Joey Barton comes out of that 50/50 challenge with a tweet.
Hard man: Graeme Souness
Tom Finney. The Preston plumber (his trade before and after his career with North End). The most modest man I met during my career and yet one of the most devastating. Of the same generation as Stanley Matthews, the wizard of the dribble, yet in my view a man who made more impact.
Garrincha. The genius most Brazilians revere as even greater than Pele. A magical ball player and scorer of fabulous goals.
Eric Cantona. I watched Thierry Henry’s comeback from our training camp in South Africa — and loved every minute of it. I’m a United fan so I’d pick Cantona. With his temperament, you wouldn’t be able to take your eyes off him.
The master: Eric Cantona
It has to be Bobby Charlton. What a player! A player to die for. Two-footed, attacking, and capable of scoring goals from all over the pitch. How much would he be worth now Absolute millions. In fact, I reckon United should call him up this weekend. He wouldn’t be any worse than some of their midfielders…
This might sound crazy coming from an Arsenal supporter but I would love to see Glenn Hoddle playing again. When I was a kid I wanted to be Hoddle. Those silky skills, that languid style and his balance and vision.
Special talent: Glenn Hoddle
Danny Blanchflower. Those who have backed Tottenham at big prices to win the League are now in a state of agitation. Blanchflower’s return would ease that. He has the Spurs been-there, done-that T-shirt. And the lines: ‘The game’s about glory. It’s about doing things in a style, with a flourish. It’s about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.’ Stick that up your tactics board.
Sir Bobby Charlton describes Duncan Edwards as the greatest player the world has ever seen. Yet the 1958 Munich air disaster cruelly denied the boy from my native Black Country the chance to fulfil his potential. He died aged 21. If only we could watch him play again, just once.
Graeme Souness. He is so good on the TV it seems a shame to take him out of the commentary box.
But he was the complete midfielder of his generation.
Dixie Dean. One of the greatest goalscorers of all time, it would be fascinating to see if the qualities that set him apart in the 1920s and 1930s stood up in the modern game. What’s more, Everton could desperately do with someone to spearhead their attack. William Ralph Dean would be just the ticket.
Goalscorer: Dixie Dean
Brian Clough. Not in charge of Forest or Derby, though, but as Wolves manager — purely because I’m covering them today. His team would have a ‘right good go’ against a Spurs side who are flying. I only know the legend, but would have loved the chance to witness the man in action.
Was Dixie Dean all that he was cracked up to be His record of 60 goals in one top-flight season is simply sensational.
Robbie Fowler. Born to score goals. Simple. Out-and-out goalscorers are a dying breed.
George Best. His pace, his ball control, his ability to glide over the turf, his balance, his two-footedness, his acceleration, his wonderful goals … need I say more
Simply the best: George Best
Kevin Keegan. Skilful, driven, feisty, charismatic — I was no Liverpool fan but my schoolboy football memories are dominated by a player who games seemed to revolve around. The thought of King Kenny slotting the man he followed alongside Andy Carroll would give defenders a few sleepless nights.
Glenn Hoddle. The midfield maestro who should have played a hundred times for England. He would be imperious in today’s game. No-one struck the ball better in the world game and the lack of tackling in today’s football would suit him, too!
It’s got to be Greavsie. There hasn’t been a goalscorer like him since, and I doubt there ever will be. So quick in and around the box, a deadly finisher. He finished top scorer in the old First Division in 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1969. Magic!
One of a kind: Jimmy Greaves
Eric Cantona. The bravado, the outrageous finishing, the philosophical nonsense, the upturned collar and the ability to rival Mario Balotelli in the race to the naughty step.
Jurgen Klinsmann. We were conditioned to dislike German footballers, but Klinsmann came to White Hart Lane and changed everything.
Chelsea’s Jimmy Greaves (pre-AC Milan, Spurs and West Ham). The ultimate goalscoring wonderkid. Debut goal at 17 …100 League goals by the age of 20… then had to be sold to raise cash, aged 21. Made captain for the day and scored all four in a 4-3 win. Makes Roy of the Rovers look average.
Duncan Edwards. Rated by no less than Sir Bobby Charlton as the greatest footballer the world has ever seen. Who could resist a glimpse of a talent seen by too few for too short a time
I would love to see how Dixie Dean would get on against modern defensive systems using modern boots and balls. His enduring record of 60 goals in the 1927-28 season suggests he would have been a player for all eras.