1 month ago

Dream Team: Pat Rice's XI

Ex-Watford and Arsenal defender Pat Rice reveals who would make a best XI of players he played with and coached from both clubs, including himself…


“Pat obviously played for both clubs, and he’s one of the greatest goalkeepers that we’ve ever seen playing in English football. I don’t think anybody would disagree with that.”


“I would rather have put Lee Dixon down than myself! I was very fortunate to play with some good players. I did what I knew I could do – I won the ball and gave it to those who could play – and I shouted a lot. I have total respect for all the players I played with.”


“He was a fantastic leader and a terrific captain. He was converted from midfield to play centre-back and he never looked out of place. I was only a kid back then, but he most certainly brought you up the right way. If you needed to be reprimanded there was no finer man to do it. He didn’t stand on ceremony.”


“He could catch pigeons! He could come out with the ball, he was a very good defender one-on-one, and I can’t remember anyone that could go past him. He was just so quick.”


“I almost put Wilf Rostron – another who played for both clubs – but I have to choose Ashley. He was a bit quicker than Wilf, but I think the real reason is that he was a better defender. They were both converted from left-wingers, which meant they could get forward and had the ability to go past people.”


“Before Robert got injured at Highbury, he was possibly the best player in the world. You couldn’t get the ball off him once he had it, and you weren’t frightened of giving him the ball with a defender close to him. He had the ability to play in others around him and he could score goals out of nothing.”


“Vieira was a monster, an absolute monster. He completely controlled the middle of the park. He was an animal and you’d see the best of him whenever you were really up against it.”


“He was quick, he was strong, and he had a great touch on the ball. He had the ability to go past one, two or even three defenders, and he was also a very good finisher. He was a tremendous player.”


“Dennis was a maestro. He could see things others couldn’t. When other people on the ball would be stuttering, he would see openings or he could create something. The forward players knew if they ran he could get the ball to them.”


“He was a fighter who had skill on the ball. I can only define him by saying he was Watford’s Ian Wright. He was ruthless and fearless. Wherever you went, he turned up. You might have been beaten, but he would still have put a performance in.”


“He’s the best Arsenal player I’ve seen. He could score goals, he could make goals, he could play others in. I remember us being down against Liverpool at Highbury in ‘the Invincibles’ season and he just picked the ball up after half-time and went on a roll. I think he scored a hat-trick that afternoon.”


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