Wednesday, July 20, 2011

INFTH Top 100: Numbers 15 and 16 Wayne Rooney- Even a pitiful first half of the season couldn't stop Rooney from breaking into the top twenty. The England striker is still the most talented player of his generation- despite his hankering for prostitutes.

A striker with unique vision, fabulous touch and an eye for goal, Rooney's late season renaissance helped to inspire United towards number nineteen; but his year did not come without its controversy. Shocking revelations about inappropriate extra marital exploits forced a mid season vacation, while demands to leave United did nothing to improve standing with the fans.

However, after signing a new and improved deal at United, Rooney's season turned around, and he finished the year with a respectable sixteen goals- many of them vital. A hat trick against West Ham was seen as a turning point in the title race, while a late penalty against Blackburn on the season's penultimate weekend insured that United would secure a fourth title in five seasons.

Now tied down for several years, Rooney will remain at Old Trafford for some time, however, as Simon Kuper mentions in his book The Football Men, it is likely that Rooney's latest contract rebellion won't be his last. Gerard Pique- From Old Trafford reject to one of the most successful players in footballing history, Pique's rise in the game was as surprising as it was steep. Surplus to requirements at Manchester United, Pique was shipped back home to Barcelona, in what must be seen now as the greatest ever career move.

As good on the ground as he is in the air, Pique starts as many attacks as he stops- acting as a terrific outlet from Barcelona's defense. Over the course of the last couple years, Pique has forged an outstanding central defensive partnership with Carlos Puyol- one that has seen both players collect two Champions Leagues, three Spanish Primeras and a World Cup and European Championship double. Not bad for a lad who had his position in Manchester usurped by Jonny Evans.

In many ways, Pique has reached the peak of his career; it is highly unlikely that the defender will enjoy a three years better than the ones he has just experienced. The Spaniard has won absolutely everything under the sun in Spain- a haul that merely complemented a fine collection of trophies gleaned during his time in England. Oh yeah, and he sleeps with Shakira.

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