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What Kind of Footballer Are You?

Adam Johnson Manchester City 2010/11 El Hadji Diouf Blackburn Rovers Manchester City V Blackburn Rovers (1-1) 11/09/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

It was only a few years ago when I had a conversation with my work colleague Jeremy that I suddenly realized how your favorite position on the soccer field has a profound impact on how you view the sport.

Let me explain.

Growing up, I played every position on the pitch at one time or other. But the position I loved playing the most was midfield, especially on the wings. In hindsight, I may have had an affinity to playing as a winger because of watching one of my boyhood heroes David Giles, who would later go on to play for Crystal Palace and Birmingham City, tear down the wings at Swansea. Even today, I love seeing wingers with pace and dribbling skills who are gutsy enough to take men on and bomb down the wings.

Having played as a left winger and right winger during childhood and on a travel team and into high school, I didn’t realize it but my lens on soccer was framed by my years playing as a winger. The realization was very apparent when my friend Jeremy and I were talking about defense, his favorite position, and which defenders were strong and which ones were awful. I remember him singling out Tal Ben Haim when he was at Chelsea. But for a former winger such as myself, the weaknesses of Ben Haim’s game wasn’t as apparent to me because I was still thinking like a winger. Jeremy could see things with the Israeli defender that I would never see. Experience goes a long way.

So as someone who used to play down the wing, footballers such as Gareth Bale and Adam Johnson light up my day when I get to see them perform at the top of their game.

But what about you? Which position was your favorite when you played soccer? Who are your favorite current players in that position? Share your stories in the comments section below.

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  1. Lucas

    March 4, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Everytime I played football in my life, I always wanted to be there up front, participating of the attacking part of the game. I never liked being on the deffensive part of the field, I don’t know, it just bores me. Well, I consider myself as a number 9 striker, the one the team looks to pass the ball to decide a game. But I just don’t like being a poacher, just like a finisher. I have decent speed, strength, and great dribbling ability and I can also finish from distance or help my teammates with passing; first touch is also really important. My favourite player is Torres, I just love watching him, I think I try to play football as he does, he is a very skillful player, with nice vision and dribbling ability (For me, best striker in the world at his best). I have scored great goals, and my friends tend to mark me tightly. I admire Gerrard, Sneijder, Messi, Torres and Xabi (great passing ability), Ronaldo (brazilian). I’m brazilian, btw. 😀

  2. Mustafa shamte

    November 8, 2010 at 9:54 am

    i am a striker but originally started as a winger playing on all flanks…i like to come from the wing because of my pace, speed, and quick footwork. i like to watch players like adam johnson, leo messi, kaka, for footwork training…and players like david villa for their technique in scoring… i am an almost complete player and very dangerous with the ball.

    i hve scored some spectacular goals and am still doin the job quite well… am more like the david villa of the team.

  3. Matthew Hengst

    October 25, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Hello, Im a Striker myself, now after being a goalkeeper for 7 Years i always wanted to play outfield but unfortunatly i was a good enough goalkeeper i moved house and ended up playing for a new team as a striker.. best thing i have ever done i enjoy it so much and it is the best feeling ever scoring a goal i would tottaly recommend this to drug addicts as you could get a better rush playing football, as a striker you need a great first touch and be able to read the game and look around you, you also must have a great finish.. like me ahah my favourite players are Lennon (tottenham hotspur) and Ruud van nistelrooy and Robben

  4. Ben

    October 20, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Well, im a right footed left-back. I can also play on the right, and sometimes in the centre if we have injuries. I personally think im a very tactical minded player, and actually hate having to play the ball long. The only times il hit the ball long is desperate defending or when i see a brilliant run from one of the forwards. Il run back to the goal line instinctively when the keeper rushes out, and il throw any part of my body in to make the block. I also hate diving in for the tackles, id much rather stand my ground and then show them down the wing. The forwards very likely to make a mistake if i just keep pressuring and have sufficient marking from the midfielders.

  5. ish

    September 23, 2010 at 9:20 am

    strong, tall and decent speed. i play CDM/defensive CM depending on formation, but have been played as a LB and CB before.

    As a CM the first thing that you pay attention to is first touch. if a players first touch is shit i cant see him as a quality CM. The dogged players like maschareno might get away with it but even they have very good first touch. The hardest thing i ever learned to do with recieve and pass in an instant, cant believe the level of quality in some of the CMs going around xavi for me isnt about passing, he is ok at it but ive seen just as good whats amazing is how fast he can receive the ball and release it in a danger area with barely any downtime and with nearly any ball. amazing vision and technique.
    if a player has a shit first touch they gonna be a trash player, guaranteed. Another thing as CM is the importance of movement, i suck at this one but when i pull it off well i understand it. Simply put when you are available for the pass and do pass and move its devestating, pressing just doesnt work on you. what happens is you get man marked and its easy to use that to your advantage with the right players.

    My favourite players are xabi alonso, lampard, mikel, xavi, zidane and berbatov all for different reasons but all have very high level technique and amazing first touch.

  6. Alex

    September 23, 2010 at 4:55 am

    I play striker alot but my favourite position is in the classic ‘number 10’ playmaker role, just behind the striker. The best examples of this position include my new favourite player, Mesut Ozil, aswell as other modern day mastreos like Scholes, Cesc and Xavi/Iniesta and of course my all time favourite, Zizou. All these players can control the tempo of the game by themselves and all of them have the most exceptional passing. Watching these guys in full flow is just amazing, they make passes that no one else can, perfectly weighted and placed, it’s truly spectacular to watch… Ozil vs Australia in the WC, whilst extremley painful to watch for a passionate Australian supporter like myself, was an amazing individual performance. He was invovled in all four goals and the Socceroos had no answer for him

  7. Dane

    September 22, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Xabi Alonso. Love the way he works his trade in the midfield, Great vision, great longballs and he holds possession like a master…

    …forgive him for a couple of rough games under Jose so far…new system I hope!

  8. Allen

    September 22, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Being six-foot four, I’m not the fastest player on the pitch, but what I lose in agility I make up for in strength. I generally play as a deep-lying center-midfielder or central defensive midfielder. I’m rubbish at crossing so my main skills throughout my years of playing are my ground passes and lay-off abilities. My favorite player in the EPL is Michael Essien and my game really reflects his: sweeping in front of the back four and just trying to lay out good passes. I also move forward a lot and stand the ball up well for my striker friends (typical strikers who always want the ball and want to run the least, but they have a finish that is 1000x better than that of meh).

  9. Thomas

    September 22, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I like playing left back, even though I’m right footed. I’m not the most skilled player, but it’s a position where I feel I can contribute if it’s a fast paced game with skilled players…also have an affinity for playing on the “off wing” based on playing mostly on the left as a right handed hockey player..

    I love playing Defensive Mid, but it depends on the level of competition. In a good match my tackling and quickness on the ball just isn’t good enough.

    I know my limitations..

    I’ve always admired hard tackling players like Gattuso..but also been a fan of players who play with guile, like Maka.

    I’ve got a soft spot for John O’Shea. Good player. Nothing fancy. But he gets the job done. My style.

  10. Gaz Hunt

    September 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    I played central midfield 90% of the time – though occasionally I went out to the wings on the good teams and played up front on the poorer teams. 🙂

    Steven Gerrard is probably the most complete midfielder of this generation and he plays for my club. However, I think my style was more like a Modric – I have a soft spot for the player due to this.

  11. Stacy Richardson

    September 22, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    I was goalkeeper or defender in my high-school days (not many American men my age had the opportunity to play soccer, but I did). But I think of the game from the goalkeeper’s perspective, and Brad Friedel’s my favorite.

    I do have a soft spot in my heart for any goalkeeper who makes a mistake, a trait which is, unfortunately, quite useful in my current role as an Arsenal supporter.

  12. Smokey Bacon

    September 22, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    For sheer entertainment value, it has to be the individual genius of the likes of Frank Worthington in the 70s, Hoddle in the 80s, Cantona, Le Tissier and Bergkamp more recently. Only Berbatov on his day matches these players.

  13. Jeff

    September 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    the box-to-box striker (i.e. a poacher inside the 6-yd box), such as Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

  14. AnarchyAnt

    September 22, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I’ve played most positions, but I keep moving back in the formation as I get older. I played striker when I was a kid, midfield in high school, DM/Stopper on my college team and now goalie. DM was my favorite position, but I’m too old to run around the field now. Goalie suits me perfect because generally the ball is always coming to me!

    Since moving to goalie, I definitely appreciate tactics more. Being able to sit back and watch everything develop is my favorite part of the game.

  15. Jonathan Slape

    September 22, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Throughout my soccer career i have played a variety of different position, but through my Highschool career my primary position was right back. I love right backs that can strip an opponent, charge downfield, and deliver a beautiful cross into the box. I love watching guys suck as Maicon, Dani Alves, and, as a liverpool supporter, Glen Johnson.

  16. tonyspeed

    September 22, 2010 at 11:38 am

    wing back and mid field. fabregas, xavi, iniesta. i don’t particularly like defense but i’m good at it as well.

  17. Darren

    September 22, 2010 at 11:16 am

    My best position is Right back as I am right footed, so for that position I greatly admire Macion and Sagna (being a Gooner) as they seem to run all game long and not get tired. I know what it’s like to just attempt that, and I admire their fitness and disipline for that alone. I have been caught too high or deep deep on the pitch simply because I don’t have the gas to stay where I should be sometimes.
    I prefer Left back, as my on the ball skills are better suited there, but weaker defensively, so I love watching Gibbs emerge, and the best left back in the world is C*shely Cole. A shame he is such a prick because wow is he a great left back.
    My favorite position though, is the CDM. But not the hard-tackling type like Mashereno. I love the ones such as Mikel and Busquets, and to a lesser extent, Carrick. Great on the interceptions and reading the play ahead of time. Hoading the ball while in possession, never cheaply giving it away, always available for an out pass for their teammates. Dicatating the game, always filling in for teamates as they bomb forward.
    Their tactical awareness is awesome and highly under-rated. Especially for Carrick imo.

  18. TJ

    September 22, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I am the striker for my team, somewhat pacey shooter not much of a target due to size. I sometimes drop back and play centermid, and when I watch games I enjoy watching the middies as Gaffer mentioned. Bale, Milner, Fabregas, and Giggs are some of my favorite footballers to watch. Box-to-box footballers are what makes the game beautiful. I also have a soft spot for pacey strikers like Tevez and Bellamy, and can’t get enough of a motivated Berbatov.

  19. Q

    September 22, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Also a winger, and even though I’m a Gooner through and through, I concur that watching Bale has been something of a treat.

  20. Jon

    September 22, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Very interesting idea you’ve struck on, Gaffer.

    I currently play central midfield for a second division team in my city, and have played that position for 20 years (I will have played football for 30 years this fall, but no one really plays positions in their early years). I played central midfield for two years on a university varsity team, and in the top division in our city leagues, before dropping down a division as my pace and stamina lags with age. I also coach for our city youth club and it is interesting to watch the players views of the game depending on their skill set and positional choice/assignment.

    As a central midfielder of the “playmaker” type, I admire players with excellent field vision and passing accuracy, and also players who can read the game and control the tempo for their teams. When I play, I find I look not at where the players are currently on the pitch, but where they are NOT. That is, I see the field as a series of empty spaces. I know that’s different from how our defenders or strikers look at the pitch.

    As a lifelong Arsenal fan, my favourite players of this type are Bergkamp (who played more advanced than I normally do) and Fabregas, who is my current favourite player. I am watching the development of Ramsey and Wilshere with a keen eye. I also admire players like Essien and Gerrard, who have the ability to go from box-to-box and control a game for a full 90 minutes. Having to do that twice a week in our league, I know how difficult it can be and I always smile when a player like Essien can make a lung-busting run from a give-and-go pass and shoot on target in the last ten minutes of a game.

    As a kid, my favourite player was Gascoigne, when I was too young to care about off-field issues.

    I’d be really interested if there are any strikers on here how they see the field, and on whether there are differences in vision between the hold-up/power type of player and the out-and-out speedster type.

    Great post and fun idea!



  21. olive

    September 22, 2010 at 8:30 am

    i play as a CB i don’t really like it but i play my best there, i like to stop goals but also love setting up the next play after a tackle running through favorite epl player is Samba as he is everywhere in that Blackburn team always is for the team and not for himself. i like the way he intimidates players and goes forward at set pieces, he controls the game with his size.

    • UpTheBlues

      September 22, 2010 at 8:56 am

      I’ve always liked Samba, especially when he goes forward is plays as practically a striker.

  22. patrick

    September 22, 2010 at 7:57 am

    right footed left back, but when I discovered the bend I could put on a ball with my left foot… well.

    Nothing better then seeing a striker coming forward not seeing you, taking the ball he was lining up and sending it in the other direction down the line, following it around the winger and crossing in for a header on goal.

    better then scoring the goal really.

  23. Cricketlover

    September 22, 2010 at 7:48 am

    I started out playing goalkeeper for the first 5 years, then I played as a center forward (striker) all the way through to the end of high school and finally when I moved to this country I played in central midfield. I found that playing goalkeeper helped me the most in studying the various nuances of the sport. Goalkeepers are able to see everything in front of them and therefore have a unique perspective of the match. When I am looking at a match I tend to look beyond where the ball is and am always glancing at where everone else is on the field as well.

    As for players I like to watch, Pepe Reina is not only good at making spectacular saves but his quick ball distribution is something I admire as well. The moment he has the ball in his hands he is already looking at where his forwards are to quickly release the ball to them. Barcelona’s Iniesta is a midfielder I like to watch the most because of his ball control and passing ability.

  24. X

    September 22, 2010 at 7:07 am


  25. Sundar

    September 22, 2010 at 7:02 am

    My favorite position is right back I think the best to play in that position at the present day are Sergio ramos and Maicon.

  26. Norfolk Enchants

    September 22, 2010 at 7:00 am

    I was a Keeper, played at a very high level.

    While I’m a diehard Arsenal supporter I have to admit I have a soft spot for Everton because of Tim Howard. I won’t miss a game.

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