Ronaldo, Messi, Zidane: Peter Crouch picks his greatest Champions League XI ever

Cristiano Ronaldo features as Peter Crouch names his greatest Champions League XI ever

Peter Crouch has named his greatest ever Champions League XI.

The former Liverpool and Tottenham striker, who scored 11 Champions League goals, was asked to name his ‘immortals’ as BT Sport look back at the best players to grace the competition across its 30-year history.

To say that Crouch’s side is a strong one would be an understatement. View his selections below…

GK: Manuel Neuer

“This is a tough one, I’ve changed a couple of times. I initially went for Gianluigi Buffon, but I’ve gone with Neuer.

“With Neuer you’ve got absolutely everything. Someone as commanding, as big, as confident, his positioning… I feel like he’s the best goalkeeper.”

Manuel Neuer features in Peter Crouch's greatest Champions League XI ever
MUNICH, GERMANY – APRIL 23: Manuel Neuer of FC Bayern Muenchen celebrates after teammate Serge Gnabry of FC Bayern Muenchen (not pictured) scored their sides first goal during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Borussia Dortmund at Allianz Arena on April 23, 2022 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

RB: Cafu

“I’ve played against him, and watched him for a long time. His engine… He was ahead of his time. He could still play now.”

LB: Roberto Carlos

“I can’t go for Marcelo, he got me sent off at the Bernabeu! Roberto Carlos is the man I’m going for.

“Defensively, not as good as Cafu. Offensively, absolutely unbelievable. The free-kicks were an added bonus. The ones he scored were absolutely incredible.

“Just a talent. Something different to what we see in this country. It’s difficult to leave Ashley Cole out but Carlos gets it for me.”

Roberto Carlos features in Peter Crouch's greatest Champions League XI ever
MADRID – MAY 6: Roberto Carlos of Real Madrid takes control of the ball during the Champion’s League Semi Final between Real Madrid and Juventus on May 6, 2003 at the Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain. Real Madrid won the match 2-1. (Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images)

CB: Sergio Ramos

“The reason behind Ramos is that he’s a born winner. He’s win at all costs. If I was a manager, or a fan, there is no-one I’d rather have at centre-half than Ramos. The amount of Champions League’s he’s won, his CV speaks for himself. A top defender.”

CB: Paolo Maldini

“I’ve had the privilege to share the pitch with Maldini. He could play anywhere: centre-half, left-back… and be a class act.

“He was never caught out of position, even when he was playing at 37/38. The timing of the tackles, the reading of the game, just how comfortable he was on the ball. He was a good looking fella to boot as well!

“When you think of Maldini, he just embodies the Italian national team. Fantastic defensively, very rarely gets beaten and a serial winner.”

Paolo Maldini features in Peter Crouch's greatest Champions League XI ever
TURIN – FEBRUARY 22: Paolo Maldini of AC Milan in action during the Serie A match between Torino and AC Milan, played at the Stadio Delle Alpi, Turin, Italy on February 22, 2003. (Photo by Grazia Neri/Getty Images)

CDM: Xavi

“You could not get near him. You’d get tight to him, it’s one-touch around you. Stand off him, he’s picking 60/70 yard passes and dictating things. Very rarely gave the ball away and played in the best Barcelona team we’ve ever seen.”

CM: Andres Iniesta

“His control was effortless. Everything he did was on the turn, on the swivel, he was constantly moving it.

“He could go past people, he could dictate. What he had more than Xavi was the ability to ghost past people and get goals. He was a real joy to watch.”

Andres Iniesta features in Peter Crouch's greatest Champions League XI ever
VALENCIA, SPAIN – OCTOBER 17: Andres Iniesta of Barcelona during the La Match between Valencia and Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on October 17, 2009 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

CM: Steven Gerrard

“I had the privilege to play with him at Liverpool and England as well. He was incredible in the tackle.

“I remember him when he was 16/17, I played against him as Spurs lodge. He crunched into this tackle on me on the edge of our box, ran the pitch and hit this shot against the crossbar, the hardest shot I’ve ever seen. He made his debut shortly after that.

“He played off the right and won PFA Player of the Year. He could do anything. He could pass, head, tackle… He won games on his own. He was an absolute genius. An amazing player and a great character.

“The influence on me was so big. I found myself trying to impress Stevie more than Rafael Benitez! I worked every day to impress him.”

CAM: Zinedine Zidane

“Absolute genius. He was someone I loved watching. Just effortless style. He looked lazy but he was quick, strong and hard in the tackle. Probably the most gifted footballer… up there with Diego Maradona and players like that. Comfortable in possession.

“He gets you off your seat with 1/2 touches, the flicks, the tricks… everything had an end product. Some big goals in big games.”

Zinedine Zidane features in Peter Crouch's greatest Champions League XI ever
MADRID, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 23: A portrait of Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid prior to the UEFA Champions League Group B match between Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen, held at The Santiago Bernab?u Stadium on November 23, 2004 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

ST: Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi picks himself. For me, he’s the best that’s ever lived. As a footballer, as a technician, as someone who goes past you and excites you and scores the goals that he’s done, there’s no-one better.”

ST: Cristiano Ronaldo

“He’s the greatest goalscorer that’s ever lived and that’s fact. He went from being a bit of a show-pony to developing into a relentless goalscorer. To go from that to bang: 40 goals a season every year, minimum, for however long he’s done it is unbelievable.”

View the side below…

On his side, Crouch said: “That team beats anyone else’s team. I’m telling you!”

It’ll be an extremely tough task to pick a better one, that’s for sure.

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