Pompey's best 11 - Pompeyscum
Probably the hardest position to pick as James is up against Alan Knight, Aaron Flahavan, and Dean Kiely. Plus the underdog Japanese keeper we had, the Sherlock Holmes writer that originally kept goal for us and the totally ineffectual Chalkias. However, there are so many facets to James' character and story that he is, undeniably, the greatest keeper we have ever had or are likely to have.
His haircuts (the superman anyone?), his environmental credentials, his modelling career, his shouting, his intentionally comic dives and his unintentionally comic dives make him a truly watchable presence between the sticks. I watch most of the games on the telly (I work for a sports broadcaster) but there is usually something James is up to that makes me chortle. All this doesn't even take into account his incredible reactions, brilliant distribution, and the fact that we have had the pleasure of watching England's true no1, week in, week out without the dappy national attention that comes with being an England player. Not so great for David James but I love having little secrets and it's felt like James was Pompey's little secret. The national press and all my work colleagues could go around dissecting the performances of Carson, Green, Robinson all they wanted but I knew who the best keeper in England was and I didn't want to share him.
Central Defence: Linvoy Primus, Arjan De Zeeuw
The Nobel Prize Winners of the defensive world. Linvoy, with his big heart and hotline to heaven. De Zeeuw with his doctor's qualifications. The booming 'ooooooohh' that greeted Arjan's every header out of defence was a mark of respect to a guy that knew the job he was doing and didn't get carried away with himself. And he had the face of a true defender, all character.
Linvoy managed to exceed expectations of himself for about 3 seasons in a row. It's comic book stuff. Roy of the Rovers in front of our very eyes. If I start praying, the first prayer will be that Linvoy will come back from injury and have another shot at the Premier League because there's no player, to my knowledge, in the league that deserves it more.
Left/Right Back: Jamie Vincent, Scott Hiley
This is stretching my knowledge too far, I need to buy a Pompey annual to remind myself of the players. I seem to remember Scott Hiley being very small so he gets in for that. I find the size of the currant squad slightly unnerving. Jamie Vincent gets in because I remember Redknapp moving him into a sweeper or defensive midfield position, where he looked great, and describing him as the next Franz Beckenbauer. Up surged my expectations, and then we sold him.
Midfield: Thomas Thogersen, Steve Stone, Robert Prosinecki, Gary O'Neil
Not sure if this would be the most effective midfield. Thogersen was always a favourite of mine, though I can't say why. Steve Stone was such a tidy player I would have like to have seen him get his wish and moved into the centre as he was getting knackered running about so much. I used to worry that we would start seeing him stop after 70mins to catch his breath, the years finally having caught up on him. Somehow he would get past his man or get a cross in even though he seemed to have a style of play that had changed little from the 1980's. Gets my title as most underrated Pompey performer of recent years.
Prosinecki - the rollbacks, staring daggers at linesmen, cigarettes. Always a controversial buy, he was worth every penny as Pompey suddenly had a player that could "turn it on".
Gary, because he had flashes of brilliance, was our great white hope for so long, and he ran in a strange, rather camp, fashion.
Strikers: Steve Claridge, Peter Crouch
Steve Claridge. The man played with no shin pads and his socks rolled down. I don't know about his abilities as a manager but as pundit and player I rate him above all else. I think he drove a battered Vauxhall and I had a friend at Portsmouth University that used to see him around Titchfield. To me, this was like he lived next door and would eagerly lap up any sightings of Claridge by this fellow, who supported West Ham but had lived in Fareham all his life! How could you see the Messiah and not convert.
Peter Crouch. So funny to look at (Pele on stilts, my mate calls him). With him, Todorov (honourable mention as he just missed out on my favourite strikers), and Gary O, we had the ugliest team in England. But he WAS as good with his feet as he insisted he was. Then his sale went on to bankroll our push for promotion the next season. It was painful to see how ridiculed he was at Aston Villa and then he went to Saints. My goodness what a sucker for punishment that lad is. Come back Peter!
Selected by - Pompeyscum in January 2008.
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