Lovely XI – In search of the Premier League’s nice guys

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 22.29.34What makes England’s top division so attractive? End-to-end action? The eschewing of defensive priorities in favour of hung-ho attack? Passion? Potentially a mix of all of those elements, but all glued together with a visceral tribalism. In a word – hatred. Hatred is what makes the world of  the ‘greatest league in the world™’ spin round.

As much as we’d be unwilling to admit it, the beast in all of us loves a bit of footballing bastardry on our screens, not only does it stoke the passion but, with increasing vigour, it is becoming one of the major themes of mainstream football coverage – with broadcasters gleefully bombard us with looping footage of the latest act of violence or cheating. A trend that any right-minded individual would predict can only end with a premier league footballer holding aloft the severed head of an opposing player whilst roaring “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!” to the braying, frothing masses.

Partly inspired by this terrifying vision and equally so by a conversation I had on twitter where Ledley King was put forward as an example of a player that fans of all persuasions find likeable, I decided to attempt a starting 11 of likeable Premier League footballers – obviously in 4-3-3 – everyone loves that formation.

Tim Howard

His Beardness’ performance versus Belgium in this summer’s World Cup made the man into a myth as the American shot-stopper turned into a hero from the pages of Marvel comics over the course of 90 minutes. Of course, most of us would have been aware of the man’s heroic nature, like the stoic and just Ned Stark, who stands up to the bullies. Speaking of which…

Seamus Coleman

The public reaction to Diego Costa’s ‘na-na-nanana’ routine that he directed into the young Irishman’s face will tell you how well thought of Coleman is amongst football fans. Players chipping off at each other is nothing new, but this time was different – like watching an Andrex puppy being told off. Boo Diego!

Phil Jones

People like funny people. Phil Jones is funny. His hilarious may not have been entirely his own volition, but no one could hate on a young man who’s tackling face resembles the expression of a Walrus being shot up the arse with wasabi covered rubber bullet. Not just a face his mother could love, a face we all love.

Vincent Kompany

Football fans love to rattle the sabre about the league champion’s finances – quite often whilst conveniently forgetting the source of their own club’s income – but regardless it’s quite a feat that nouveau riche City’s captain is so well liked throughout the game. An honest, congenial chap off the field and a warrior on it.

Aleksandar Kolarov

A surprise second Manchester City entry in our lovely XI and solely for this very reason:

Tom Huddlestone

Good ol’ Tom. A Disney character of a footballer – lolling around midfield like the bear from The Jungle Book having a bloody lovely time and then BOOM – the howitzer is fired. Every fan outside a top four club would love to have him in their team, a smiling force of nature with the easy gait of Le Tissier. Lovely hair too.

Lee Cattermole

The most controversial entry into our team – but even the loveliest team needs an enforcer of sorts. The Sunderland midfielder has spent his fair amount of time on the naughty step, but as his shorts have moved higher up his waist so the respect of the general public has risen, like a raised flag being saluted. And compared to other ‘hard men’ you know with Lee it is never personal.

Joe Cole

This was a close one to be honest – there was more than one sleepless night attempting to surmount wether Cole or Manchester City’s David Silva would get the nod. Alas the pint-sized Spaniard loses out. The former England ‘star’ may lag someway behind Silva in the ability/silverware/respect stakes – but c’mon, who doesn’t like Joe Cole? English football’s Peter Pan.

Danny Welbeck

Dat guy Welbz – considering the fleet-footed forward has been involved in two rather poor international tournaments plus Manchester United’s decline it is no mean feat that mere mention of his name elicits a smile. Yes he’s cocky, but unlike many other well-known ‘ballers’ he’s not kicking off with the paparazzi or involved in dirty trysts – he’s on the dance floor with a wide grin getting down to ‘And the beat goes on’ by The Whispers.

Didier Drogba

Chelsea football club are – all things considered – probably the least liked club in the Premier League. And to be honest Jose Mourinho probably wouldn’t have it any other way. So it is strange that one of the talismanic members of Jose’s ‘golden generation’ is so highly regarded by non-blues. When it comes down to the crunch it may just be that he’s bloody entertaining – whether it be effing and blinding down TV cameras or his interpretational dance routine with Jens Lehman.

Mario Balotelli

Rolling news coverage, expletive-laden arguments and moody ‘Super Sunday’ previews all exist to remind us that football is SERIOUS BUSINESS and should be treated with the same degree of gravitas as war or famine. Super Mario reminds us that football is a game and should be treated as such. He plays for the sheer fun of it and no greater public service can be provided than that.

Any player we’ve left out? Or do you disagree with the line-up? Let us know in the comments below

The Author

Charles Pulling

Co-Editor of @bpfootball. Content for ViceUK, inbedwimaradona, sabotagetimes + Others. Featured on

One thought on “Lovely XI – In search of the Premier League’s nice guys

  1. Lukas Podolski is a wonderful guy – just look at his latest Instagram, in fact all three of Arsenal’s germans are great on social media so I’d say one of them at least.

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