The greatest teams in history never got anywhere without a strong spine.
Here’s 9 of the best from the last 20 years that laid the foundations for years of success:
1 Petr Cech – John Terry – Frank Lampard – Didier Drogba (Chelsea):
A carpenter is only as good as his tools. Jose Mourinho certainly inspired Chelsea to English domination upon his arrival in 2004, but these four were the perfect representation of his philosophy. Often referred to as the ‘Old Guard’, Blues fans may never see such heydays again.
2 Jens Lehmann – Sol Campbell – Patrick Vieira – Thierry Henry (Arsenal):
Mouthwatering. Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ were packed with star names, but this spine was impenetrable. Gunners fans have sorely missed the combative nature of Vieira and Campbell particularly since their departures.
3 Joe Hart – Vincent Kompany – Yaya Toure – Sergio Aguero (Manchester City):
The inspiration behind two Premier League title success, but the problem for Manchester City has been getting them all on the field at the same time. Kompany and Aguero are both penchant to injury problems, which might explain their comparative failure to perform on the European stage so far.
4 Pepe Reina – Jamie Carragher – Steven Gerrard – Fernando Torres (Liverpool):
Back in the days when Liverpool were regularly reaching Champions League semi-finals. Under Rafael Benitez, these four icons flourished and so nearly clinched that elusive first Premier League crown back in 2009.
5 Thibaut Courtois – Diego Godin – Koke – Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid):
Has a team ever embodied their manager’s style as much as Atletico Madrid? Diego Simeone’s side have defied all logic in recent seasons, continually undermining the powerhouses of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Their La Liga glory in 2014 was based upon a gritty, unforgiving spine.
6 Iker Casillas – Fernando Hierro – Zinedine Zidane – Raul (Real Madrid):
Galacticos. Galacticos everywhere. Florentino Perez’s dream was to see Real Madrid rule the world, and with these four in their ranks anything was possible. The 2001/02 Champions League success was the ultimate reward for Los Blancos.
7 Dida – Alessandro Nesta – Andrea Pirlo – Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan):
The only criticism of this spine is that they should have won more. The fact of the matter is, the AC Milan side from the mid-2000s was a sight to behold. Throw in Kaka, Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso and co. and it might be the most pleasing combination of players of all time.
8 Peter Schmeichel – Jaap Stam – Roy Keane – Dwight Yorke (Manchester United):
Sir Alex Ferguson was able to call on a couple of ridiculous spines during his 26-year stint at Manchester United, but this one was sensational. Three consecutive Premier League title successes between 1999 and 2001 rubber-stamped their dominance.
9 Julio Cesar – Lucio – Wesley Sneijder – Diego Milito (Inter Milan):
The second Jose Mourinho entry in our list, the ‘Special One’ brought the best out of Inter Milan’s side and added a steeliness that saw them dispatch the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich on their way to Champions League glory in 2010.
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