My dream 5-a-side: Omar Al-Banna / by Justin Salhani

  Omar (right) in his infamous pants

Omar (right) in his infamous pants

Omar is the youngest member of Guerrilla FC. He's got a reputation for quick feet and a terrible selection of pants (the American kind not the British kind.) An alumnus of University of Maryland, Omar's alter ego labors as a civil engineer.

GK Iker Casillas
Having spent around 25 years with Real Madrid, Casillas stands as a symbol of loyalty to me in an era of modern football that has seen a growing culture of transiency in players and managers moving around chasing money and glory. Before he was shipped off to Porto after a shaky three-year period under Mourinho and Ancelotti, San Iker’s career with Madrid saw him earn numerable domestic and European honours that helped propel him to cult status among Madridistas at home and abroad. Noted for his leadership skills out the back, Casillas would make the ideal captain for my five-a-side team.

Def Paolo Maldini
A player that dedicated his life to one team, Maldini was a work horse whose tenacious grip on the game led him to receive praise from some of football’s finest talents. Noted for his ability to read the game and his technical skill on the ball, Ronaldinho was once quoted saying that one of the things that impressed him about Maldini was that “when he was on the ball, he did not look like a defender, but rather an elegant midfielder”. This only pays tribute to his being regarded as a complete footballer, an essential quality for a 5-a-side team.

Mid Johan Cruyff
In my opinion, few if any have contributed to football more than Cruyff. Not only did he enjoy an illustrious career as a player, but one as a manager as well. With his remarkable understanding of the game, Cruyff’s philosophies have been adopted by numerous youth academies in Europe as well as a generation of managers that applied it successfully in modern football (*cough* Guardiola *cough*) (ed- are you okay, Omar?). What really drew me to selecting him for my team was his beginnings on the streets of Amsterdam where he began developing his instincts that set him up to become one of football’s greatest icons.

Mid Zinedine Zidane
My favourite player and one of the greatest minds to have graced the game, Zizou was a playmaker whose elegance and demeanour enchanted millions, myself included. Of course, that was when he wasn’t head-butting other player in fits of anger, arguably testaments to his burning passion. Having only watched him towards the end of his career, his performances at the 2006 World Cup were ones that drew me to football in a way no other player could. To only add to his story, his vision of the game allowed him to come back to football after retirement and ascend Real Madrid’s managerial hierarchy to become one of the Madrid’s most successful coaches in only over two years at the helm. His vision and insight on the game only complement those of Cruyff and Maldini.

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Fwd Ronaldo
Growing up, I didn’t see other kids wanting to be like players as much as they wanted to be like O Fenomeno. On the international stage, his flair with the ball only served to make Brazil synonymous with skillful football. Every glory hunter and their mother were fans of the Brazilian team for which Ronaldo served as poster boy. What really captivated me about him was his remarkable dribbling and finishing talent which I could not and still do not really know how to explain. I could not think of a better number 9 for my team.

Words Adrian Kidaman
Edits Justin Salhani