Crawley’s Billy Clarke picks the best XI he has played with and against
Joe Hart – Manchester City I played against him for the Republic of Ireland in an U21 European Championship qualifier. England won 3-0 and I don’t think we had a shot at him all match but, seeing what he has gone on to do, he is one of the best in the world and a great keeper.
Seamus Coleman – Everton A great player. I played with him when he was on loan at Blackpool and we got promoted to the Premier League together. He scored six or seven goals that season and has shown what a talent he is with Everton. He’s a really nice guy, quite reserved but great to be around.
Glen Johnson – Liverpool He was at Portsmouth and went on to win the FA Cup. Very hard to come up against, very strong and gets forward really well. I found it tough going against him, and now he’s doing well for Liverpool and has also played for England numerous times.
Sol Campbell – Retired Another at Portsmouth. I played against him and Sylvain Distin and it was a really tough battle. They are double the size of me. I tried to get around Sol but he was a seasoned pro and knew what he was doing. Ivan Campo – Retired I played with him at Ipswich, and being on the same team as someone who has won the Champions League with Real Madrid was just great. Not many people get to win that. He was good to have in the dressing room, and had a good understanding of English – when he wanted to!
Cesc Fabregas – Barcelona I played against him when he was with the Spanish U17 side. We drew 1-1 but at the time he was just breaking into the Arsenal team. What he has gone on to achieve is just unbelievable and you could tell, even then, that he was going to be a great player. Miguel Veloso – Dynamo Kiev Another one I played in a national match, this time in an U21 qualifier against Portugal. He was 17 and played unbelievably and now he is playing regularly for Portugal. He’s a quality player. Mark Noble – West Ham Mark is one of my best mates. I played with him when he came on loan to Ipswich and then against him when we took on England U21s. There would always be some good banter between us in the week before the game where the Republic of Ireland lost 3-0 in 2008. He’s always good fun.
Theo Walcott – Arsenal Theo’s another who played in that U21 game and scored against us. He was only young but so quick. It’s great to see him going on and transferring that scoring ability to Arsenal. He has got a lot stronger too.
Giovani dos Santos – Villarreal He came on loan to Ipswich when I was there and he was so skilful. He’d started at Barcelona and he has such trickery and dribbling skills. He was just a happy-golucky kind of guy, although it was annoying seeing him beat you in training.
Kevin Phillips – Leicester City He is a ridiculous finisher, probably the best I have ever seen. I played with him at Blackpool and it was great. He was 38 then but he kept himself in such good shape. He’s also a great guy to be around, not big-headed at all despite all that he has achieved.