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Monday 19 August 2019

Steven Gerrard and Thierry Henry named in UEFA's team of the 21st century

Steven Gerrard poses for a photo with Thierry Henry during the Liverpool All Star Charity Match at Anfield on March 29, 2015 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Steven Gerrard poses for a photo with Thierry Henry during the Liverpool All Star Charity Match at Anfield on March 29, 2015 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Former Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard and Arsenal's all-time leading goalscorer Thierry Henry have both been named in UEFA's team of the century.

Ahead of UEFA's upcoming team of the year announcement next week, the governing body of football in Europe decided to name their all-time XI from the 21st century.

The side features just two Ballon d'Or winners in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, while Gerrard and Henry join Ronaldo as the only players in the squad to have played in the Premier League.

La Liga dominates the selection with Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez and Andrés Iniesta all gaining entry while German World Cup winner Philipp Lahm was the sole Bundesliga representative.

The team was selected on the basis of the highest number of team of the year selections this century.

Full team (courtesy of UEFA.com):

Iker Casillas – 6 (2007, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12)

Real Madrid/Porto & Spain

Spain's captain at UEFA EURO 2008 and 2012 also lifted the 2010 FIFA World Cup – three of the six times he made it into Team of the Year. Gianluigi Buffon (4 selections) and Manuel Neuer (3) are his main rivals for the No1 shirt.

DEFENDERS

Carles Puyol – 6 (2002, 05, 06, 08, 09, 10)

Barcelona & Spain

Enjoyed a golden run from 2005 onwards, winning the UEFA Champions League with Barça in 2006, 2009 and 2011, as well as UEFA EURO 2008 and the 2010 World Cup as a cornerstone of his country's defence.

Philipp Lahm – 5 (2006, 08, 12, 13, 14)

Bayern München & Germany

One of Europe's most consistent performers of the past decade. Lahm's sequence of three successive Team of the Year appearances came to an end in 2015.

Sergio Ramos – 6 (2008, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16)

Real Madrid & Spain

Five selections in a row are a measure of the Madrid man's standing, the defender having earlier been rewarded for his role in helping Spain to UEFA EURO 2008 glory. Will he make it six on the bounce this year?

Gerard Piqué  – 5 (2010, 11, 12, 15, 16)

Barcelona & Spain

Nominated seven times in the last eight years – and picked on five of those occasions – Piqué continues to be a hugely consistent performer for club and country.

MIDFIELDERS

Xavi Hernández – 5 (2008, 09, 10, 11, 12)

Barcelona & Spain

Though a contender in 2005, it was not until his second involvement in 2008 that Xavi made the cut – then there was no dislodging him as unprecedented success with club and country kept him in the side five years running.

Andrés Iniesta – 6 (2009, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16)

Barcelona & Spain

Like midfield partner Xavi, once he forced his way into Team of the Year Iniesta proved impossible to displace until 2013; he also returned in splendour in 2015 and kept his spot last year.

Steven Gerrard – 3 (2005, 06, 07)

Liverpool & England

One of five midfielders selected three times. However, seven nominations were key to taking Liverpool's talisman into the ultimate XI at the expense of Kaká (five nominations), Ronaldinho (four), Pavel Nedvěd (three) and Zinédine Zidane (three).

FORWARDS

Cristiano Ronaldo – 11 (2004, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16)

Manchester United/Real Madrid & Portugal

Nominated a record 13 times, the Portuguese phenomenon has been included in the Team of the Year on no fewer than 11 occasions, three more than any other player. The 2016 team marked his tenth appearance on the spin.

Lionel Messi – 8 (2008, 09, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16)

Barcelona & Argentina

Like Ronaldo, Messi was initially categorised as a midfielder – collecting the first of 11 consecutive nominations in 2006 – and has missed the Team of the Year cut just once, in 2013, since his 2008 debut.

Thierry Henry – 5 (2001, 02, 03, 04, 06)

Arsenal & France

A candidate in the first six editions of the vote. Henry's consistency was such that he got into the final selection five times, including the first four – the only player to achieve that.

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