Andre Ayew’s Perfect XI

The Al Sadd forward picks a squad of old pals from Marseille, West Ham, Swansea and the Ghana national team – although baby brother Jordan just misses the cut...

- Chris Flanagan


“I played with Steve at Marseille. He was such a calm head and I saw him become the best goalkeeper in France for years. He never got the recognitio­n he deserved, but he’s played at Marseille for almost his whole career and is a legend there.”


“Cesar was always determined at Marseille. He got to training early and left late – he was so focused. When Chelsea made him their captain, I wasn’t surprised because I knew he was that kind of guy. You can rely on him. He has quality offensivel­y and defensivel­y.”


“John was our captain in the Ghana national team and known as ‘ The Rock’ – I think he’s the best centre- back Ghana has had over the past 30 years. If it wasn’t for the injuries he suffered later on when he joined Sunderland, he’d have had an even better career.”


“Gabriel had strength, energy, fighting spirit and a great understand­ing of the game, with the way he positioned himself. He was a top player who won titles in Manchester, Madrid and Marseille. He was like a mentor to me as well, and a player I admired.”


“My left- back was between Mendy and Taye Taiwo – I’ve gone for Mendy because he gave me lots of crosses at Marseille. He’s a beast. Benjamin is one of the best left- backs in the world, and has been unlucky with injuries for the past couple of years. Before that, he was unstoppabl­e on the left side – the quality of his crossing was incredible. He was like my little brother when we were team- mates, as he’d come and wake me up so early by making noise! A good lad to have around, who always brings positive vibes and jokes.”


“The best midfielder I’ve ever shared a pitch with. Michael was and is an idol in Ghana – he played for big clubs like Chelsea, Real Madrid and Milan and won major trophies. He gave his heart for the national team and played really well – I have so much respect for him.”


“When Lucho joined Marseille, I knew he’d had success at Porto and with Argentina, but I was surprised at just how good he was. He had a brain that could see and execute things in less than a second – he saw passes that only he could see, and changed a game with one through- ball. He had class; as soon as he arrived, he took us to another dimension.”


“What Dimitri [ below] did at West Ham was amazing, and it’s been the same at Marseille. I was his team- mate at both clubs – he can score goals with either foot, including from free- kicks, play passes between the lines and is very hard to stop. A complete footballer.”


“Samir had a style that made the whole team play well, with the way he could hold the ball, turn and find people. I grew up with him at Marseille – he was one step ahead of all the other players there at the time.”


“A magician. Hatem had something different – a magic touch, which we saw at Newcastle too. Everybody knows he should have been a player who went to the biggest clubs in the world with his talent. That left foot, the goals, the dribbles... he had the lot. Everything that you want from a player.”


“My striker had to be either Asamoah Gyan or Mamadou Niang, a hero at Marseille. Gyan was a legend for Ghana, so I’ve gone for him. He scored 51 goals in 108 games. We were all playing for him – I just got the ball and crossed it! Sorry to my brother Jordan that he didn’t quite make the team – if he helps me to win the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon next year, I’ll add him in.”

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