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My team-mates all-star XI

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Michael Gray | 13:52 UK time, Thursday, 8 October 2009

The last week was very disappointing. After a great win against Cardiff and a solid draw at Crystal Palace, we lost 3-0 at Derby where we just never got started.

To say the gaffer wasn't pleased would be an understatement and the worst bit is having to wait two weeks until our next game. I'm sure the gaffer will have a few running sessions planned for us. And who are we to argue after our lacklustre showing?

Meanwhile, lots of you have asked me to name the best players I have played with over the years, so here goes (I'm not going to pick anybody from the three England teams I played in, that would be too easy - and there's no left-back because that's my position)....

Goalkeeper: Brad Friedel

Blackburn v Manchester UnitedBrad Friedel makes a brilliant save for Blackburn aginst Manchester United

One of the best keepers the Premier League has seen, I wouldn't like to count how many games he won for us at Blackburn. His shot-stopping was unreal, and above anybody else on the pitch you could hear Brad shouting out information to his back four.

He was the same in training too - he hated it when anybody scored against him and it wasn't that often we did either! It's no wonder he is still playing at the top level - a professional on and off the field.

Right-back: Lucas Neill (or Mr Consistent)

Lucas was a seven out of 10 every week at Blackburn. When the chips were down you knew you could rely on him; a great defender with great energy. He is strong in the air but can play football too. He loved attacking and when he got the chance he came up with a few goals at important times. That's more than I can say for myself. Lucas will be captaining Australia in South Africa next summer and I wish him all the best.

Centre-back: Terry Butcher

I learned so much from him in my younger days at Sunderland. His reading of a game was incredible. It was like he knew what was happening before the ball came near him. Butch was a true leader who wanted nothing more than to win and nobody will ever forget the time he played for England covered in blood. Once he had the Three Lions on his chest nothing was getting in his way.

Centre-back: Steve Bould

As soon as he walked through the training ground doors at Sunderland I knew he was going to be great. Obviously, we all knew of him from the Arsenal days and was part of probably the best back four the Premier League has seen. Well, nothing had changed. I remember our coach at the time, Bobby Saxton, was trying to explain what he wanted from the back four. Bouldy disagreed with him and showed us the way he had done it at Arsenal. He hadn't been at the club long but it just showed you the type of person he was; a leader in every way.

Funnily enough we played Arsenal in his first game at the Stadium of Light and he was up against Thierry Henry and Kanu. It must be one of the best debuts I have ever witnessed and we won 1-0. The atmosphere was fantastic, I'm sure we had a great night at the end of it as well. Obviously Bouldy came with a lot of stories from his days at Arsenal too. I was the youngest back then and would sit and listen to him for hours. A funny, funny man.

Left midfield: Allan Johnston

Me and Jonno hit it off straight away at Sunderland; the understanding was amazing between the two of us. My game was to get forward as much as I could but I knew if I was in a sticky situation all I had to do was give him the ball. It was glued to his foot. When he was on song nobody could touch him.

He used to make players fall over without touching the ball. Jonno had the best step-over I have seen - it worked every time. Players knew he was going to do it but they still couldn't stop him. Left foot, right foot, it didn't seem to matter to him and, again, if he did get in a muddle he knew I wouldn't be too far away.

The season we won promotion to the Premier League was probably his best; terrorising full-backs up and down the country, which ended up with him making his international debut for Scotland. He might thank me one day for helping him get that far - only joking, but I know he had a big part in me playing for England.

Centre midfield - Tugay (or the Maestro)

Tugay bids farewell to the Blackburn fansTugay retired at the end of last season

Arguably the best player I have played with. You would have to go back to about 1999 to find the last time he gave the ball away - and that includes training! It was a joy just to be on the same pitch as him at Blackburn, never mind the same team.

His passing was unbelievable. It didn't matter if it was long, short or faded round the corner, he had it all. Tuggy was never the quickest in the world but his brain was five seconds quicker than anybody else.

I remember walking round the side of the training ground one day and catching him with a fag in his hand. I said: 'What are you doing my friend?' He looked at me and said they made him relax. I said to him: 'If you relax anymore you may as well be in your bed.'

Centre midfield: Stillian Petrov

Maybe a bit of an unsung hero but Stan was a great player. He had a great appetite for the game and was a great trainer. I remember watching him in my first training session at Celtic and thinking to myself: 'Who is this guy?' He was up and down the field like nobody's business. If he wasn't trying to score at one end, he was defending at the other.

That didn't change when the games came around either - a player who would put his neck on the line to make sure he won. At the time he was 23 and captain of his country. It doesn't surprise me one bit that Martin O'Neill has taken him to Aston Villa. Stan typifies what you need from a midfielder in this day and age.

Right midfield: Nick Summerbee

Other than David Beckham, I haven't seen anybody cross a ball like Buzza. For Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn it must have been a dream come true to have somebody like him playing out wide. It wasn't just swing your leg and hope you put a good ball in the box with Nick, he knew where he was putting it more often than not. He had tough boots to fill following his dad, Mike, and maybe found that a bit hard when he was playing for Manchester City but, when he came to Sunderland, Nick got a new lease of life.

Buzza probably played his best football under Peter Reid at Sunderland and he was great to have in your team, on and off the field. The butt of most the jokes, he could dish it out as well. You had to be on your toes at all times. I loved being in a dressing room when there was a bit of banter flying around and he was probably the culprit who started it all. He is starting to put a bit of weight on around his waist now, which I remind him of maybe five times a day.

He lives just round the corner from me and must ring me 20 times a day for no reason whatsoever. "What you up to?", "What you eating?", "Fancy a coffee?" - then he asks the same questions an hour later. He's just bored I guess and missing being around the lads. Nick and I have a car company together and he's probably the person whom I am closest to in football.

Striker: Niall Quinn

Niall Quinn scoresNiall Quinn scores for Sunderland aginst Charlton in 2001

He was the focal point of a lot of our play at Sunderland but that didn't make us a long ball team. Quinny wasn't just great in the air, he could play as well and he had the best first touch I think I've ever seen.

You just couldn't get the ball from him. Again, not the quickest but so clever that he didn't need to be. It was a dream partnership having him and Kev (Phillips) playing up front. For such a big guy his feet were amazing. The Sunderland fans adore him and rightly so. Quinny has gone from being a legend on the pitch to one off it.

Now chairman and bringing players to play at the Stadium of Light that we could only dream of five years ago, he's also a true gentleman who has got time for everyone and is probably the nicest person I've met in football.

I remember Quinny being the first person to come over to me when I missed the penalty in the play-off final against Charlton. It just shows you the type of person he is. I'm sure he said to me at the time that it would make me a stronger person and that proved to be the case.

Striker: the legendary Henrik Larsson

He was the one player I couldn't wait to see play when I went on loan to Celtic. He just oozed class and he didn't disappoint me. Henrik had this aura about him that only the top, top players have, but you have to earn that over the years and he certainly did. He was regarded as a football god up in Glasgow and you just knew with him in your team you had to give your best or he would let you know about it.

I remember walking out at Parkhead and everyone was singing his name. It was unreal and I can only imagine how it made him feel. There was nothing he couldn't do. Even walking up to him to get my shirt signed after a game I felt like a kid.

Some managers will tell you to look around the dressing room and be proud to be playing with the players who were in there with you. He was the player who everybody looked at first.

Henrik could score a goal from nowhere. Players would think they had him cornered but somehow he wriggled his way out and the next thing you knew the ball was in the back of their net. He never stood still. What a nightmare he must have been to mark.

Over the years people would say he hasn't done it in a top league like La Liga or the Premier League. Absolute rubbish. He knew how good he was and didn't need to go anywhere to prove it. Although I know he did in the end and was also loved in Spain and England. Henrik Larsson will live on in the memories of Celtic fans for years. And he will live on in the same way in my mind too - what a player.

Substitutes: Shay Given, Kevin Phillips, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Aaron Lennon, Chris Sutton and Shaun Maloney.

Sorry if I've disappointed anyone by not putting your favourite in. Maybe in the next couple of weeks I will give you the best XI I played against.


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