PFA Team of the Year: Gianfranco Zola, Xabi Alonso and the best Premier League players to never feature in XI
The Professional Footballers’ Association’s Team of the Year was announced on Thursday and, as expected, was dominated by both Manchester City and Liverpool players, while the selection of others left fans scratching their head.
An annual season award since 1974, the selection is voted for by professional footballers and while there are the expected inclusions and shock ones, too, there are also a number of surprise omissions.
Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, Cristiano Ronaldo and Steven Gerrard are among the notable big name inclusions, yet stars such as Gianfranco Zola and Freddie Ljungberg have failed to appear.
Here, talkSPORT looks at a select bunch of players who have been ignored.
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Pepe Reina (Liverpool)
The Spaniard left Anfield in 2014 and it is only this season they have finally found a worthy replacement in Alisson Becker.
A brilliant goalkeeper who was comfortable on the ball, something deemed essential in the modern game, Reina made 285 Premier League appearances for the club and was a three-time Golden Glove winner.
Only Petr Cech, Joe Hart and Tim Howard have kept more Premier League clean sheets.
Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea)
Despite being part of three Premier League title-winning sides with Chelsea, the Portuguese centre-back somehow failed to make the PFA team selection.
Was the perfect foil for John Terry and the pair were formidable, especially during the 2004/05 season when they only conceded 15 goals.
Marcel Desailly (Chelsea)
While Carvalho was Terry’s defensive sidekick, Desailly played a crucial role in helping to teach the latter the art of playing at the back and what it means to be at Chelsea, a man the former England captain described as his ‘mentor.’
Known as ‘The Rock’ Desailly was a two-time Champions League winner and World Cup champion when he moved to West London in 1998 and was equally comfortable as a defender or playing in midfield.
Xabi Alonso (Liverpool)
Arriving with manager Rafa Benitez and Luis Garcia in 2004, the midfielder added class and guile to the Reds midfield, operating as a deep-lying play-maker able to pass any distance across the pitch and was excellent alongside Gerrard as Liverpool captured the Champions League that same season.
Was key in their title charge of 2008/09, but reluctantly left the club at the end of that campaign for Real Madrid.
Gianfranco Zola (Chelsea)
Signed by Ruud Gullit in 1996, the Italian already had a lengthy career, notably in Serie A, but despite being 30 at the time of coming to Stamford Bridge, would go on to enjoy several rewarding seasons and become a club legend.
Only 5ft 6, Zola refused to be intimidated in the physically demanding Premier League, skilfully navigating his way past defenders with ease and was key in the club’s resurgence to challenge and win trophies in the late 90’s.
Freddie Ljungberg (Arsenal)
Instantly recognisable with his red mohican and underwear modelling, the flamboyant Swede was a trailblazer not just for his fashion, but his ability to score from midfield and turn up in the big games.
His best season was arguably the 2001/02 campaign in which he won his first Premier League with Arsenal, netting against the likes of Man United and Liverpool.
As a result, he was named Premier League Player of the Season, but failed to make the PFA Team of the Year.
Claude Makelele (Chelsea)
The Frenchman was unheralded at Real Madrid, but loved by Chelsea. Makelele was the pivot-point under Jose Mourinho for which the midfield was built upon allowing Frank Lampard and Michael Essien to flourish.
His ability to read the game, tackle and pass quickly and accurately was vital, as he captured two league titles with the club.
Such was his greatness, the defensive midfield role has been named after him.
Robbie Fowler (Liverpool)
He may now be the manager of Australian side Birsbane Roar, but Fowler was once the ultimate striker, renowned for his instinctive ability to finish and score all types of goals. That ruthlessness earned him the nickname ‘God’ from Liverpool fans.
Voted PFA Young Player of the Year in 1995 and 1996, Fowler was unable to ever make the team as voted for by his fellow players.
Source: SportsLatest TS