Ronaldo, Rooney, Scholes: Berbatov picks the greatest XI he's played with

Dimitar Berbatov picks his greatest XI

Dimitar Berbatov has picked an XI of the greatest players he’s played with throughout his career.

Unsurprisingly, having spent four successful years at Manchester United, it’s dominated by teammates he had during his time at Old Trafford.

However, having also played for Bayer Leverkusen when they reached a Champions League final, a Tottenham side that actually won a trophy, an entertaining Fulham team and Monaco, Berbatov had plenty of options when picking his XI.

He even threw in a current Liverpool player to surprise everyone.

Berbatov is one of the silkiest and most technical players the Premier League has ever seen. His first touch is among the greatest we’ve witnessed.

But he also had a few decent teammates along the way.

And Berbatov has identified the greatest XI he’s shared a dressing room with.

Goalkeeper: Edwin van der Sar

“I call him the professor because I sat next to him on the bus when we travel to games and he was always telling stories about life and players were asking him for his opinion. It was joyful to sit next to him. And on the pitch, c’mon we know how good he was. 

“I remember him telling the stories about how Sir Alex [Ferguson] was calling him on the phone leaving him voice messages and he was like ‘yeah, right’. He didn’t believe it at first but then it comes to show you that sometimes it’s never too late, you can make it even if you’re at a later stage of your life. 

“We knew we could breathe calmly if he was on the pitch. Overall, a great human being, accolades all over the place. He was unbelievable.”

Manchester United v Schalke 04 - UEFA Champions League Semi Final

Right back: Gary Neville

“He was unbelievable in training. Very professional. Hard-working on the pitch, talking on the pitch. 

“And I remember him telling me ‘Berbs, I know I’m not the best in the world but work ethic? I don’t think anyone can outwork me’. Because I see the young players on the other side of the pitch and he knew someone would come for his place so he needs to work hard. 

“He’s always good to be around. You can always learn something. 

“If I was lucky enough to play for one team all my life, I would choose that like him. To stay at one club, his boyhood club and win everything and he is lucky to live that.”

Centre back: Nemanja Vidic

“He was unbelievable. He’d put his head in the wall for you and the team. He’d come in after the game, a tooth missing, blood everywhere, grass in the nose. ‘Vida are you okay?’ ‘I’m fine, don’t worry.’ The same in training so you need to respect that. He was unbelievable. 

“It doesn’t matter who you were, Ronaldo, Rooney they got kicked by Vidic on the training ground. They want to say something? I don’t care I’m going to kick you. 

“A nightmare when I was at Spurs and played United. And I’m like ‘Oh no, Vida’. You have defenders when you see them on the team sheet and you’re like ‘Oh no’. So I was happy to go to United but in the training games…

Centre back: Rio Ferdinand

“It was between Ledley King and Rio Ferdinand. Let me tell you something, people underestimate Ledley King. Back in the day, he was a machine. He was so good. Intelligent and fast.

“But I go with Rio. I was with him for four years. Won major trophies with him and I can tell you his intelligence level with him was so high. He can read the game. He can know before an attacker can turn he is already there and can take the ball. That’s why he rarely went down in slide tackles. He was already up there on his feet. He was fast, quick and intelligent.

“Good to be around also. Some good stories. Unbelievable. He sat next to me in the dressing room too. 

“For me, these two players complimented each other perfectly.”

Left back: Patrice Evra

“He was unbelievable as well. For his size, he can outjump me. When I played for Spurs and all of a sudden Evra is there over the top of me and I’m like ‘what is going on?’ Very strong and very sharp passing of the ball. Up and down the picth. Very good to have as a friend. When I score a goal on the other side of the pitch, I turn around to celebrate and he’s always the first to be there and I felt great joy in that.

“A great sense of humour and a person who can inspire and give you strong words. That’s why he was captain at one point as well. You always need someone like this.”

Manchester United v Aston Villa - Premier League

Centre midfield: Paul Scholes

“One name straight away pops up in my mind, Paul Scholes.

“That guy was unbelievable. He probably didn’t get enough credit when he played because he was quiet like me. He didn’t give many interviews. He was just training, games, home. If you ask any player around the world, three players to name, one of them is going to be Paul Scholes. 

“The stats speak for themselves. 

“You know he has a great shot. I was always wondering how he hit the ball so good and then one day we showered together and I saw his feet and they were so wide. So there’s no chance for you to miss the ball when his feet are this wide!”

Centre midfield: Fabinho

“I don’t want to be boring and I want to say something that will surprise people so I’ll say Fabinho.

“We were at Monaco together, he was a young boy back then. I came from the Premier League from Fulham and straight away I could see his telnet.

“He was very good in training and in games taking responsibility. He could play right back, he could play in the middle of the park. And in training sessions because I was used to physical contact, most of the time I was smashing him with elbows and with shoulders.

“He was on the ground and he was like ‘Berba, c’mon.’ And I’m like ‘I’m preparing you for the Premier League’ and funny enough years later he’s in the Premier League and one of the best players of the team in Liverpool.”

Liverpool v Watford - Premier League

Right wing: Cristiano Ronaldo

“I must put Cristiano Ronaldo in this side.

“Even if I had just a couple of games with him, that would have still been enough. I had the chance to play with him, and see first-hand how he prepares for games, for the training sessions. I cannot remember him missing one training session to be injured or sick or wherever. He was always there. We can see his professionalism on and off the pitch. Back then, staying after training, going to the gym, and swimming. Taking care of himself at an early age and everything pays off along the way. 

“He’s become one of the best in the world. The goals he’s scored, the numbers. Ridiculous. So of course, he must be in my team.”

Attacking midfield: James Rodriguez

“I played with him in Monaco. Again with Fabinho, we had so much talent. 

“I was 33 at the time and I felt a bit older with young boys running around me. James, I could see straight away with his left foot. He could find you straight away, he could put it where you want. And it happened a lot during my time there. He got the ball, and the first thing on his mind is to look forward not backward. He was unbelievable doing that.”

Left wing: Ryan Giggs

“That guy was phenomenal. 

“During the game and in the training sessions. Again, someone who can find you with a pass. Later on in his career, he adjusted his play. He wasn’t as quick but with his passion and his passing and vision. He was an example of how you can carry yourself into your 30s and 40s and play later in your career.”

Striker: Wayne Rooney

“I must say Wayne Rooney. 

“The leading goalscorer for United. The statistics are there, the figures are there. Everything you guys need to know, he’s already proven on the pitch. Outside of the pitch, he was unbelievable as well. Always welcoming the new boys coming in. Always trying to integrate you into the team. When he needs to joke about, he did. When he needs to be serious, he did. When he need to score bangers of goals, he did.

“He was everywhere. He could play midfield, he could play striker. When needed he was in defence protecting the goal. He was sacrificing, with no selfishness. If you’re in a better position, he’ll give you the ball. Make you look good. He was unbelievable.”

Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League

Berbatov’s greatest XI

Dimitar Berbatov's greatest XI

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So there we have Berbatov’s greatest XI of players he’s ever played of.

What. A. Team.

Berbatov summed it up by saying: “Look at this line-up, c’mon. The balance, the defence, the midfield the imagination in the passing and the speed. And Rooney upfront. C’mon. Unbelievable.”

Unbelievable, indeed.

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