CULT XI OF THE DECADE

CULT XI OF THE DECADE

How do you define a Cult player?

Selecting a Cult XI from the decade wasn’t easy. I asked around for suggestions, but I learned that everyone interprets ‘Cult’ in their own, personal way and that’s the beauty of it. It’s not about who was best, it’s about who you remember - even if it’s for the most unusual reasons.

Nostalgia plays a part for everyone though, which is why selecting from this decade and not the previous one was always more challenging. Nonetheless, each of the players in this team make a good case for being Cult heroes of the last ten years and here’s why:

GK: Tim Howard (Everton)

Howard always looked destined to wash up at a mid-table team after his failed spell at Man United. He did, but rather than live a quiet life of mediocrity he established himself as one of the league’s best all-rounders between the sticks and a default Fantasy Team selection for millions of punters. Admirable for someone reeling from the disappointment of not making the cut under Fergie, and more seriously for coping with Tourettes Syndrome for his entire career. 

Oh, and he scored from a goal kick.

RB: Tony Hibbert (Everton)

In a decade that saw the emergence of sophisticated and athletic full backs, Hibbert was resolutely of the old school. Black boots; socks pulled up and shirt neatly tucked in, he was an unglamorous throwback and a Moyes favourite, not least for his effective crossing to the far post where Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill stalked. He clocked up 265 league games without scoring a single goal, which is an achievement in its own right and reason enough to be in this team.

LB: Christian Fuchs (Leicester)

Every player from Leicester’s title winning team is a cult hero in one way or another. But while Mahrez and Vardy quickly acquired superstar status, Fuchs was an understated hero that’s still at the club to this day. Fuchs is a peculiar chap with his own YouTube channel and fashion label named “No Fuchs Given”. He may have been overtaken by Ben Chilwell these days, but he’s still a quietly charismatic nod back to Leicester’s finest hour.

CB: Fabriccio Coloccini (Newcastle)

Like so many Argentinean centre backs who come to the Premier League with big reputations, Coloccini was flakey at best. But that didn’t stop him becoming a fan favourite and club captain during a turbulent era for Newcastle that involved a stint in the Championship. He also had comedy hair, which helps.

CB: Paul Scharner (Wigan; WBA)

A truly eccentric defender/midfielder who stood out in some otherwise very conventional sides. Like his compatriot Fuchs, he was an unassuming Cult hero who became known for his bizarre haircuts (which didn’t attract the ire of the tabloids), quirky sense of style and consistently good performances for Wigan and West Brom.

MF: Rory Delap (Stoke)

While most of Delap’s best work came in the decade before, he was still active for Stoke until 2013. By “best work” obviously I mean taking throw-ins better than most players could take corners. He was known for little else, but as he could throw a football up to 40 metres for Tony Pulis’s Stoke City, he’s earned his place in the pantheon of Cult.

MF: Adama Traoré (Wolves)

One of only two players in this team still playing in the league, Traoré is a rare example of a modern Cult hero with his best years ahead of him. While he’s undoubtedly improved his all round game this last year, his appeal still comes from his rather primitive playing style that’s both fearsome and comedy in equal measure.

 

MF: Adel Taarabt (QPR; Fulham)

One of the most mercurial talents to ever play in the Premier League, Taarabt looked able to do anything with the ball at his feet but never quite lived up to his potential. Like Hatem Ben Arfa at Newcastle, he was box office and the sort of player every fan wanted to see in the team even if he was a tactical nightmare for the managers picking him.

MF: Ji-Sung Park (Man United; QPR)

Easily the most decorated player in this team, Park was a limited but vitally important cog in arguably the strongest Man United team Fergie built. His superhuman stamina, slightly weird love affair with Patrice Evra and his incredible big game contributions made him a superstar in South Korea and a Cult legend for United fans. The less said about his pointless stint at QPR the better.

CF: Michu (Swansea)

There were many credible contenders for this position, including Papiss Cissé, Batefimbi Gomis and Javier Hernandez, but Michu gets the nod for embodying the art of the one-season-wonder like few others did this decade. In 2012, Swansea signed him from Rayo Vallecano for £2m and he rewarded them with 18 league goals. It was an astonishing debut season for a player virtually unknown on these shores before his arrival, and the fact he followed it up with only two goals the following season only cements his reputation as a Cult hero.

CF: Dimitar Berbatov (Man United; Fulham)

There was no one else like Dimitar Berbatov. Well, at least not over the last ten years anyway. For pure talent, he was in a different league to anyone else in this team. But he was more than just a top player. His playing style was completely his own and often laughably good, something he later explained was inspired by kung-fu movies. He was also probably slightly underrated during his time at Man United, which given their modern day difficulties is as outrageous as some of his goals.

Manager: Claudio Ranieri (Leiciester City)

Tinker Man. Has there ever been a more affectionate nickname for anyone in football? For years, this is what defined Ranieri as a Premier League manager, someone who laughed at his own frustrating tactical habits. That was until he won the league with Leicester City in 2016. When he stood next to Andrea Bocelli in a Leicester shirt, belting out “Nessun Dorma” before the trophy was presented to him, we watched perhaps the Premier League moment of the decade happen.

Words by Dom Kocur (Insta@domkocur )

All images may be subject to copyright.

 

 

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