Words: Will Almond
Images: Offside Sports Photography
What makes the perfect player? The vision to pick a pass, the burst of speed to beat a defender, the drive to turn a game around, the leadership to lift their team to greater heights, or the lungs and desire to just keep going? BT Sport’s new ‘Perfect Player’ series gives top footballers the chance to have it all by picking one player for each attribute. First up, Kevin de Bruyne.
While he throws out some names you might expect, there are some surprises in there too.
Maybe the biggest is his choice for on-pitch vision. De Bruyne picks out former Ajax team-mate, now Champions League rival, Christian Eriksen and, ahead of their meeting tomorrow night, calls him a “very underrated player.” Will Pep be having a word here or is this all mind games orchestrated from the top?
De Bruyne says that a good footballing mentality is about knowing “what you have to do at a particular time” and “taking one for the team … even taking a red card.” On that basis, he picks Sergio Ramos, and it’s hard to argue there.
It takes huge self-belief to make it at football’s top table, and when asked about whose footballing brain he would want, de Bruyne backs himself. “I would say my football brain, to be fair—pretty happy with it. It’s one of my qualities.” Fair enough.
But enough about brains, footballers actually need to run with their legs too. So de Bruyne picks up Chelsea’s N’Golo Kanté for his work rate. On the pitch, according to Kevin, he’s a “defensive hoover”. Team-mates Gaël Clichy and Fabian Delph also get honourable mentions with regards to their gym work.
And finally, to round things off, because we all know that nothing scares defenders like pace, he takes fellow player Leroy Sané. And it’s glowing stuff. De Bruyne rates his “elegance” and adds, “It seems so effortless... he could be a 100m runner, and it wouldn’t cost him any effort.”
So there it is; the eye of Eriksen, the hard-headedness of Ramos, the heart of Kanté, the calves of Sané and his own brain. That’s Kevin de Bruyne’s perfect player, seems like he was built by Skynet. Terrifying.
Further episodes of Perfect Player will be released over the coming weeks and will be available to watch on the BT Sport YouTube channel, Twitter, Facebook and at BTSport.com.
For more great football writing about stuff you actually care about, you can buy our magazine or subscribe for a year here.