Who's in contention for the Gary Doherty Award for most versatile footballer?

No such awards exists but Team 33 pick out some examples of great versatility

BY Raf Diallo 14:59 Wednesday 23 March 2016, 14:59 23 Mar 2016

Gary Doherty (Picture by: Tony O'Brien / EMPICS Sport)

"I started taking up football at maybe 7 or 8-years-old and straight away I was always either a centre-half or a centre-forward. It's something that did hinder my career because they were obviously two opposite positions and it's hard to pin one down. I also look back and probably wouldn't have got as many Ireland caps as I did if I couldn't play in a dual role. So obviously I've got that to be thankful for. But it's certainly something if I look back, I think maybe at a early age, said I only want to play in one positions."

That was former Ireland, Tottenham and Norwich centre-forward and centre-back Gary Doherty on this week's Team 33 as he took time to shed light on aspects of his career and the teams he played in.

You can listen to the interview below or on iTunes:

As the now-retired 36-year-old set out, versatility is both a blessing and a curse for a footballer. On one hand, managers value that type of player when they need to fill a position as a result of injury or tactical considerations.

But for the player, being moved around from position to position can often result in a lack of rhythm and stability.

While not many players have filed the dual and very much opposite role of striker and defender, others are equally versatile in other ways.

Javi Martinez

The Bayern Munich player is comfortable at centre-back, defensive midfield and even in one match against Borussia Dortmund a couple of seasons ago, he was pushed forward by Pep Guardiola as a decoy attacking midfielder as a long ball target to counter-act Jurgen Klopp's pressing.

Bayern's Javi Martinez, left, celebrates his goal with Bayern's David Alaba, right, during the German Bundesliga soccer match between FC Schalke 04 and Bayern Munich in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

David Alaba

Pretty much the only position the Austria international has not played at is striker and goalkeeper. He recently filled in at centre-back during a Bayern Munich injury crisis to add to club and international experiences across midfield, the wing and full-back. Arguably the best footballer in the world when it comes to his ability to fit seamlessly into different positions.

 John O'Shea

The Ireland vice-captain has settled into a central defender role for the Boys in Green and Sunderland, but earlier in his career at Manchester United, he also filled in at left-back, right-back and central midfield.

Oh and goalkeeper ...

 Philippe Lahm

Yet another Bayern player who shows consummate ease fitting into a variety of positions, Germany's 2014 World Cup-winning skipper has played in both full-back positions, right wing and deep-lying playmaker for club and country. And to re-emphasise, has been a class act wherever he has been asked to play, with Guardiola pioneering his midfield evolution.

 Phil Jones

The Manchester United and England player's star has faded somewhat since he first emerged at Blackburn Rovers. He appears to be transitioning mainly into a central defender, but Alex Ferguson and Roy Hodgson used him in other positions like central midfield and right full-back with varying degrees of success.

  Giovanni van Bronckhorst

The former Arsenal and Netherlands player played at left-back and across central and left midfield during his professional career.

Emre Can

The Liverpool player's time at centre-back at Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool might not have always worked out, but it would be harsh to say he was a disaster.

The Germany international is also wholly capable of featuring in a variety of midfield roles and left-back. 

 Daley Blind

Another versatile Dutchman in the Van Bronckhorst mould, the Manchester United player can fill in at left-back, centre-back and in midfield, although his best position could well be the latter arguably.

Dion Dublin

Like Doherty, the former Aston Villa, Manchester United and Coventry City pro was fielded at both centre-back and centre-forward during his career.

His versatility has extended off the pitch where he is serving as both a pundit and the inventor of a percussion instrument called The Dube.


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