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Ian Rush - My perfect XI

Liverpool and Wales legend Ian Rush picks the best players he's ever had the pleasure - and displeasure - of sharing a football pitch with.

Goalkeeper
Neville Southall
I played with and against some great keepers but I'm going to go for my old Wales team-mate in goal. I was always successful against Neville but for a spell in the '80s he was the best keeper in the world. We were unlucky not to go to the 1986 World Cup and Neville was fantastic during that campaign. We won a few games 1-0 and that was all down to him. He was brave, a good shot-stopper, knew all his angles and was very agile and athletic& before he started to fill out!

Right-back
Steve Nicol
He'd play anywhere for you but I liked him at full-back because he could get forward and score goals, though he was also great defensively and strong in the tackle. Steve wasn't the cleverest in the dressing room but that was fine - you just told him what to do and he'd do it. He had such a good footballing brain and just loved to be out there playing.

Centre-back
Paul McGrath
I had a miserable scoring record against Man United and that was all down to Paul. Quick, strong and great in the air, he could play too but his tackling stood out. The hardest defender I faced, but fair.

Centre-back
Franco Baresi
Baresi's reading of the game was second to none. He wasn't quick but didn't need to be because he always seemed to be exactly where the ball ended up. In fact, don't think I ever saw him sprint. He was a superb Italian libero.

Left-back
Antonio Cabrini
His legs were starting to go when I played with him but what a player. Got forward to use his left peg to perfection and a fine defender too. Italian defenders are known for their cynicism but he had the knack of getting between you and the ball down to an art to win free-kicks.

Right-midfield
Zico
Not really right-sided but with Nicol behind him, Zico would be entitled to go where he pleased. I played against him in Italy and for Wales against Brazil and he was so good. A sublime passer who'd get so many goals, mostly spectacular ones.

Centre-midfield
Graeme Souness
An inspiration. He'd be my defensive midfielder. He had all of the qualities, he could tackle and break down attacks - but what a passer. A great footballer, whichmany people overlook. Incredible, especially when the fans were on his back. Liverpool played in Bucharest in '84 and everyone was after his blood; the opposition, the press, the fans, most of whom were armed forces. They didn't realise that the more they booed, the more they jeered, the better he played. He thrived on confrontation.

Left-midfield
Michel Platini
I played against him in the ill-fated 1985 European Cup final and he left Juve the season I arrived, but I was lucky to play alongside him in a John Charles testimonial game in the late-1980s. What a player. I scored a hat-trick in that game simply because he made it so easy by putting the ball exactly where I wanted it. With him in your team the opposition wouldn't see much of the ball.

In the hole
Diego Maradona
He was the main man when I was playing in Italy and I've never seen anyone like him. He had this knack of being able to run with the ball and never look at it. Instead, his eyes were used for seeing tackles so he'd be able to ride them with ease. Many people, particularly in England, have a harsh image of Maradona the man, but Diego was such a gentleman. I played against Napoli and he swapped shirts with me - I still have it hanging up at home. He'd also send all the players from other teams Christmas cards. He was a lovely man.

Centre-forward
Kenny Dalglish
The first name on the team sheet and the best I've played with. Like Platini, he could put the ball wherever I wanted - playing with those two was like playing in heaven. At Liverpool, my pace suited Kenny's game and it worked wonders. He'd tell me to make a run as soon as he received it and like magic the ball would be there. It was almost unstoppable.

Centre-forward
Marco van Basten
He'd be the goalscorer in my team, and I doubt there has been a better one, certainly not while I was playing. He was in the great Milan team that took shape when I was in Serie A. He had to retire too early, which was a disaster for world football because he was a genuine superstar and a genuine centre-forward.

Substitute
Ian Rush
I'd love to start because I'd get so many chances in this team, but I'd be happy to get on for the last 10 minutes!

Manager
Bob Paisley
Bob would be the boss. He was the best man-manager I ever came across but I'd also want his back-room staff with him. Ronnie Moran was the shouter and motivator, Joe Fagan was the thinker but when he spoke you listened, while Bob had it all. He knew everything about the game and knew exactly how to treat individuals. A quiet man but brilliant.

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