Roberto (left) brought a bit of Spanish flair to Springfield Park. (©PAphotos)
by Andrew Kirby
, read by 616 people.
After Steven Gerrard's hat-trick against Napoli in the Europa League last week, Jamie Carragher said he believes Gerrard is the best player to have ever played for Liverpool.
This comment has sparked a lot of debate on internet message boards and on football phone-ins, and so, as a bit of fun, we decided to try to find out who the best player ever to have played for Wigan Athletic could be.
Due to the unprecedented success of the past ten years, and Wigan's meteoric rise under the stewardship of Dave Whelan (who took over in February 1995, when the Latics were in the fourth tier of English football) many of these names are recent. But for those with long memories, Geoff Davies was a bona fide star.
His goalscoring feats were legendary, powering the Latics to the Northern Premier League title in the 1970/-71 season (with seven hat-tricks along the way) before going on to play in the newly-founded American soccer league along with George Best and Pele.
More recently, Latics fans have been wowed by other great goalscorers, such as Nathan 'The Duke' Ellington, whose goals powered the club up the league ladder, Emile Heskey, who worked his way back into England reckoning during his time at the club. Stuart Barlow and Jason Roberts also deserve honourable mentions here.
In midfield, we've boasted a number of stars, including Jimmy Bullard, whose cheeky-chappy sense of fun made him a firm crowd favourite before he secured a move to Fulham, and Lee McCulloch, whose sheer drive and commitment were never in doubt until he was offered a dream move to the club he'd always supported, Glasgow Rangers.
And then there's the South Americans, Antonio Valencia and Wilson Palacios, whose form for the Latics brought them big money moves to Premier League big-boys, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur respectively. And whilst Palacios seems to have slipped down the pecking-order at Spurs (behind the young Englishman Tom Huddlestone) Valencia had established himself as a regular starter at Old Trafford before suffering an horrific injury in the Champions League against Glasgow Rangers.
Valencia hopes to be back in February/ March, and United have certainly missed his accurate crossing and tireless running in the past month.
In defence, we've cheered on the whole-hearted Arjan de Zeeuw, the talented enigma which is Titus Bramble, the skilful Leighton Baines, and Mr Wigan himself, Matt Jackson. Not forgetting Super Mario Melchiot, the steely Dutch defender and one-time club captain.
Of the current crop, Hugo Rodallega could become a viable candidate for the Greatest Ever Player tag, if he finds the net on a more consistent basis, and Chris Kirkland could definitely be in with a shout if he rediscovers his form of 12 months ago. Youngsters Tom Cleverley, Victor Moses, James McCarthy and James McArthur, as well as Steve McManaman's cousin, Callum McManaman could be ones to watch for the future.
But, in this correspondent's humble opinion, there can be only one choice for the overall Greatest Ever Latic, and that is Roberto Martinez, the current manager. Back in the day, Martinez was a symbolic signing, a real indication of the club's burgeoning ambition. He was the player who allowed supporters to dream of bigger and better things. He brought the taste of Spanish flair to Springfield Park. Watching him was like the sun had just come out after years and years of grey skies.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.