Most underrated of the recent past and today

In football today I notice there are a lot of players who aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. They usually play as a sub or are just totally ignored by pundits and even the most knowledgeable fans when compiling a list of ‘Best players in the Premiership’ or some such. This is a list of 10 players who, in my opinion, are overlooked by many.

Christopher Samba

I’ll start with Blackburn Rovers’ colossal defender Christopher Samba. If you ask me, Chris is probably the most underrated defender in the Premiership, and I can’t understand why. He has everything you want in a defender, he’s tall, strong, well built, a good tackler and a great header may it be a clearance or to pop up with a goal.

He actually does have a lot of fans across the Premiership, plenty who say they’d have him in their team, but its the media who seem to overlook him and I can only imagine that the only reason he is overlooked so much is because he is playing with a mediocre side.

Chris would be a capable defender for any side and would be a great addition, and with Liverpool in need of a centre-back to really sure up the defence, you can’t go wrong with Samba and he wouldn’t be that expensive either. He may not be with a ‘big team’, but I for one would rate him as a better defender than John Terry and any of the hapless Arsenal centre-backs. He’s a joy to watch in defence and epitomises what being a defender is all about.

Ji-Sung Park

Ji-Sung Park is probably the most underrated and underused player in the Man United squad. Anytime I see Park play I notice he’s always that one player who sneaks in and scores a vital goal while a the usual targets like Rooney and Hernandez are being marked. He’s a great passer of the ball and is always capable of changing a game but one thing I hate to see is that he always seems to have to play the part of the super sub when really he should be one of the first names on the team sheet.

What I really admire about Park is that he plays for the love of the sport and he’s the type of player every team needs. He’s not motivated by money like many others and he’s one of the most honest players in the game. Despite playing for United, he’s often stated that he actually doesn’t like being famous. Park is actually such a famous figure back in South Korea that fans even send him money but if having legions of admirers sending you money doesn’t make you love being famous, I don’t know what will!

I think the footballing world needs more people with the same mindset and attitude of Ji-Sung Park, play for the love of the sport, not for the fame, money and glory.

Matthew Etherington

He’s no spring chicken, but Matthew Etherington has impressed me since he joined Stoke and even at 29, he seems to be still getting better all the time.

One of the most creative and dangerous wingers in the Premiership, Matthew has been a key part in Stoke City’s successful stay in the Premiership so far. With few outstanding English wingers, I’m surprised Etherington hasn’t received a call-up to the national side.

He has everything you want in a winger, a great cross, creativity, pace , great control of the ball, possesses a powerful shot and is regularly up there with the most assists in the Premiership. Despite all this, the media choose to overlook him and put more focus on teammate Rory Delap’s ridiculously long throw in.

Paddy Kavanagh

When I think of underrated  League of Ireland players, Paddy Kavanagh springs to mind.

There was a time when Paddy was probably one of the hottest prospects in Irish football, but it just seems to have gone all quiet for the winger in the past 6 months. With his game time limited, it’s hard to expect him to perform with a lack of chances and that’s the problem with fans who haven’t seen much of him before as they may automatically assume he is just some poor bench warmer. I’ve noticed Hoops fans have become critical of him, but I think they’ve forgotten how good a player he can be.

To be honest I actually think that on form he is a better player than Billy Dennehy and still has something to offer, but he’s best to join a new club because Michael O’ Neill obviously has no interest in playing him in league games. You don’t become a poor player overnight and with regular game time I think he will be playing as well as he did at Bray Wanderers. Who knows, maybe another spell there could do the trick.

Steve Finnan

If ever there was an underrated player during the Rafa Benitez era, it was Steve Finnan.

Steve was one of the most consistent players in the Liverpool squad and always gave 100%, but surprisingly is one of the unsung heroes of the Kop and you won’t find a single Liverpool fan who didn’t think he was a terrific player during his time at the club.

Something that annoyed me about Benitez was that, despite how good and consistent Finnan was, he still seemed to be trying to replace him. This gave Finnan the chance however to show his determination to stay in the first team as he kept Josemi, Jan Kromkamp and Mauricio Pellegrino but all failed to claim the spot as there own. The fact that they were all crap also played a part.

Alvaro Arbeloa eventually took the right back spot and Steve moved on in 2008 to Espanyol, but since leaving Liverpool his career has been plagued by injuries. Although not officially retired, Finnan hasn’t played since the 2010 FA Cup Final, and you’d have to imagine retirement is just around the corner.

Tranquillo Barnetta

If you asked me to name some of my favourite players in football today, Tranquillo Barnetta would be one of them.

There is so much to the Swiss wingers game, he’s a fantastic passer of the ball, he can take stunning free-kicks, always a goal threat and is probably the most creative player in both the Switzerland and Bayer Leverkusen squads.

I’m a massive admirer of the winger, but it seems there aren’t many who are. The media hardly give him coverage at all, which is probably the biggest stumbling block for him. If more people knew just how good he was, I think fans of all clubs would be eager to have him in their sides if they were linked with him. If English fans didn’t know him before the national side’s friendly against Switzerland, they certainly knew what he was all about when he constantly tore their defence apart, getting on the score sheet twice in the 2-2 draw. I suppose it’s actually no surprise that since outstanding performance against England, Newcastle are often mentioned as the team after him in the transfer window this summer, but amazingly, very little is actually mentioned of this interest.

Kevin Doyle

Although not the most prolific striker in the Premiership, it’s not just the goals that are part of Kevin’s game.

Something I always notice about the striker is he is always working hard in a game and is tremendous at holding a player off. I think Kevin would be a fantastic supporting striker for one of the league’s more prolific goalscorers, he has everything you need to be one and he always seems to play very well with Robbie Keane for Ireland, usually involved in good moves that would set goals up for the captain.

I think this is why Doyle is so underrated, people won’t look past his goalscoring record (which, to be fair, actually isn’t that bad) and actually take note of what he could add to an attack as a supporting striker. I don’t think he’ll ever join Arsenal or Juventus, Wolves is probably his level now or any club in the same mold, but I think if he stays injury free he could be a massive help towards a good finish in the Premiership next season for the club.

Esteban Cambiasso

Probably one of the most complete midfielders in the world, but Cambiasso doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.

I think he is still one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe and he is a major factor in what made the midfield during the Mourinho years at Inter Milan so special. He is like the “glue in midfield” so to speak, while other midfielders love scoring goals, he loves stopping them from scoring.

I’m not saying he doesn’t score, in fact he boasts an impressive record at Inter Milan, with 36 goals since he joined the club in 2004. One of the most incredible things about Cambiasso is his his reading of the game. It’s almost as if he knows where the ball will go before its even passed, before the ball is even passed he seems to be already making a run and successfully intercepting it. There aren’t many who read the game as professionally he does. I think he’s been Serie A’s most underrated player for some time now, no one ever seems to talk about him, but I suppose, like many mentioned in this list already, they don’t get enough coverage which means a lack of interest.

Stuart Holden

Probably one of the best players outside the top 4 and probably one of the best free transfers in recent years.

I think Holden is a very creative midfielder and he seems to pulls the strings in the Bolton midfield. Although I didn’t watch a whole lot of Bolton’s games last season, what always stood out for me was that he was an absolute work horse. He covers nearly every blade of grass and is great when it comes to slide tackles, which isn’t something you’d expect from such an attacking player.

Holden hasn’t had it easy since joining Bolton, suffering two long term injuries since arriving at the Reebok Stadium in January 2010. The first came during a friendly between the USA and The Netherlands, when who else but Nigel De Jong went in with an atrocious tackle that left Holden with a broken leg and ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Just months ago he received a similar injury, this time it was Man United’s Jonny Evans who was the culprit when he went slid in with studs up and caught the knee of Holden, cutting it open and leaving the player in some distress. Holden holds no grudge though and has happily accepted apologies from both players, and perhaps it is his injuries that has meant he hasn’t received as much praise as he deserves.

Dietmar Hamann

One of the very best at what he did, throughout his time in the Premiership, I don’t think Didi Hamann got the creditor praise he deserved.

Hamann was easily one of the best holding midfielders in his playing days, and I don’t think you’ll find a Liverpool fan who thinks differently. What was even more impressive about him was that despite smoking 40 a day, he still managed to keep in shape and play to the very best of his abilities.

He wasn’t what you’d call an exciting or mesmerising player, he played the game in a very calm and cool manner and done his job. Didi is also well remembered as a game changer, and this was most evident when he came on at half time in both the 2005 Champions League Final and the 2006 FA Cup Final. You could almost instantly see the impact his presence brought to the team as Liverpool went on to win both Cups on penalties.

I don’t know if it was because he wasn’t a skillful or, as stated earlier, mesmerising midfielder, but for some reason he never seems to get the praise he deserves.

Well those are my 10 underrated players in football, there are more, but I can’t fit them in. Do you agree with this list? Are they all underrated or are some of these perhaps even overrated? Have your say in the comments below.


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