When observing elite footballers, we often pinpoint specific traits which separate them from their colleagues.
In fact, a lot of the time we examine players through the prism of their signature abilities. Mention David Beckham and we immediately think of his right foot.
The tool which helped Beckham whip delicious deliveries is the adidas Predator boot and so with the launch of the latest iteration, the Predator Mutator 20, it got us thinking about the makeup of the perfect footballer.
Using the traits of past and present Predator players, this is our Perfect Apex Predator.
Heading – Michael Ballack
The machine-like German was a beast in the air, using every sinew of his 6ft 2in frame to dominate aerial battles. Timing and an excellent spring made him jump out as first choice here.
Vision – Xavi
What gave the diminutive Xavi an edge over bigger and faster opponents? His vision to pick the right pass at the right time and awareness of space around him is why the Spaniard is one of the great midfield maestros.
Creativity – Mesut Ozil
Here to create is the adidas tagline and few players embody it more than Ozil. Consistently at the top of the assist charts over the course of his career, the Arsenal playmaker has long tattooed games with his artistic pen.
Intelligence – Philipp Lahm
No player before or after Lahm impacted Pep Guardiola as profoundly as the German did during their time together at Bayern Munich. Any player Guardiola describes as “perhaps the most intelligent player I have ever trained in my career” owns this space.
X- Factor – Paul Pogba
Pogba is capable of crafting show-stopping moments no other player on the planet can replicate. He’s the definition of X-Factor, a superstar talent with the ability to draw gasps and applause from both sets of supporters.
Instinct – Alessandro Del Piero
One of the great finishers, the Italian could have scored blindfolded such was his ability to find the corners of the net without even looking at the goal. Juve’s all-time leading scorer with 290 goals, including 16 separate double-figure seasons, relied on instinct to register many of those strikes.
Heart – Javier Zanetti
Zanetti won Italian hearts through the pledge of his own. An iconic figure for Inter Milan and beyond, the Argentine did what he did for the joy of the game. A selfless professional, his heart was always in the right place on the pitch.
Strength – Marcel Desailly
The Predator became a piece of pop cultural at France ’98 and although synonymous with control, Desailly’s ability to smash strikers showed another side to the beastly boot. Besides, he was nicknamed ‘The Rock’ nothing more needs to be said.
Leadership – Steven Gerrard
Liverpool’s captain fantastic. In the mid ‘00s, Gerrard was one of the poster boys for the Predator and his leadership qualities were such he could have fronted war call-up posters as well. He’s Liverpool’s greatest captain and orchestrator of the game’s greatest comeback.
Hands – Oliver Kahn
Eccentric and electric, former Bayern Munich stopper Kahn is one of the best to don the goalkeeper gloves. ‘The man with a thousand arms’, his ferocious mentality, rapid reflexes and insane dexterity saw the serial winners become embellished in the rich history of Bayern and Germany history.
Pace – Marc Overmars
There’s a superb photo of Overmars sporting a Men in Black style suit and shades with an opened metallic briefcase containing the Predator Precision during a product launch back in 2000. Back then the Dutchman was a dynamic and direct winger, comfortably one of the fastest in the game with a rumoured 100 metre time of 11 seconds.
Right-foot – David Beckham
Think Predator, think Beckham. In fact, it’s more specific than that, think Beckham and the ball spinning gloriously off his signature right-boot and either into the box from a cross or into the top corner from a free-kick. Beckham is Predator, Predator is Beckham. Spin and control are two of the boots biggest hallmarks and the winger made a career out of owning those two traits.
Left-foot – Raul
Real Madrid’s greatest ever striker and scorer of 323 goals in 741 appearances for Los Blancos, Raul is not a bad option to take up the left foot. Apparently only 20 per cent of footballers are left-footed, goal-fiend Raul is in the top one per cent of them.
Tackling – Patrick Vieira
Vieira was such a complete midfielder that he could be fitted into virtually any of these categories but at his heart, he was a destroyer through his tackling prowess. There are highlight packages dedicated to Vieira just on his tackles in the same way there are for Lionel Messi goals.
Dribbling – Kaka
There are different styles of dribbling ability; the mazy, tight turning and body feint types are always the most obvious. However, Kaka’s dribbling ability at speed, while gliding, was effective and just utterly delightful to watch in full flow.
Touch – Zinedine Zidane
Maybe it was his imposing size, but Zidane is arguably the most balletic footballer to have graced a pitch. The Predator’s mantra was touch and there’s no greater exponent than the Frenchman. His first touch was so delicately and effortlessly precise, the ball could have been launched at him from a cannon and it still would have been tied to his foot. Majestic.
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