Football's not always about who's won the most Ballon d'Ors, sold the most shirts or starred in their own movie - it's important we recognise those who reside outside the limelight too.

Fortunately there's plenty of those about, and we've managed to club together a functional X. We've selected players from England, Germany, Italy and Spain, from big clubs to small, and with a limit of one per team.

Do you agree with our choices?

Samir Handanovic

FC Internazionale Milano v Cagliari Calcio - Serie A

If a goalkeeper saved six successive penalties you'd know about it, right? And yet... you didn't (and if you did then well done you)! Inter's Handanovic achieved exactly that last season, and a few more in 2015-16 have seen him home in on Gianluca Pagliuca's all-time Serie A record.

Dani Carvajal

SD Eibar v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

At one stage, Carvajal looked to have become the latest victim of Real Madrid's more-hit-than-miss transfer policy when Los Blancos shelled out £22m for Danilo last summer. Many expected the Brazilian to walk right into Carvajal's position, but the home-grown right-back had other ideas - standing his ground and even forcing Danilo to play out of position this season.

Leonardo Bonucci


Despite being a regular for club and country over the past five years, it is extremely rare to hear Bonucci discussed in the same light as his partner in crime Giorgio Chiellini. Juventus had the best defence in Serie A last season, conceding a mere 24 goals, and Bonucci's under-appreciated displays were one of the main reasons why.

Damien Delaney

Crystal Palace v Southampton - Premier League

Whenever the topic of Palace defenders comes up the go-to name is more often than not that of Scott Dann. While that's great for fans of Alan Partridge vines, it somewhat taints his underrated-ability in our our book. So we've gone for Delaney instead, the Eagles' veteran captain who signed from Ipswich Town on a short-term deal three-and-a-half years ago and still refuses to budge.

David Alaba


In a Bayern team loaded with world class attacking talents, it's all too easy to overlook those who put in the hard graft at the other end. The Bavarians boast the best defence in the Bundesliga this season, with much of that contributed to Alaba's solid defensive work. Just to underline the Austrian's importance, he's even spent bits of the campaign filling in at centre-back, despite being more accustomed to left-side or defensive midfield roles.

Ivan Rakitic

FC Barcelona v RC Deportivo La Coruna - La Liga

Much like Alaba, Rakitic's contributions are often buried beneath a plethora of more profitable names like Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Even so, the Croatian is undoubtedly the unsung hero of a Barca side that claimed five trophies in 2015, bringing energy, tenacity and a touch of class to Luis Enrique's midfield.

Glenn Whelan

Stoke City v Chelsea - Premier League

From Barcelona to Stoke-alona, where 31-year-old Glenn Whelan continues to hold his own alongside Ibrahim Afellay, Xherdan Shaqiri and Bojan Krkic.. The Irishman has certainly exceeded expectation since his £500,000 transfer from Sheffield Wednesday eight years ago, and has helped the Potters secure top-half Premier League finishes in consecutive campaigns.

Marc Albrighton

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

With Ngolo Kante's efforts increasingly recognised throughout the recent weeks and months, we've plumped for another Leicester star who's been criminally overlooked during the Foxes' unexpected title charge. Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy may have stolen the plaudits of late (and rightly so), but Albrighton has also provided his fair share of the ammunition - albeit slightly less glamorously.

Ander Herrera

Everton v Manchester United - Premier League

What sort of world is this if a 30-plus-million-pound Spanish midfielder is struggling for regular games in the Premier League? A recent injury may not have helped Herrera's cause, but he was in and out anyway. Finding a way of integrating the 26-year-old is unlikely to be high on his manager's list of priorities right now, but the Spaniard's statistical contribution suggests he'd be wise to give him a try.

Olivier Giroud


The Gunners heart-throb is well into double figures for goals this season, yet there are still question marks (none from us, mind) over Giroud's ability to perform consistently at the highest level. Strikes against Leicester, Manchester City and Bayern Munich (both times) suggest that he can, although he still couldn't find the net against Sheffield Wednesday!

Troy Deeney


While a high percentage of Watford's league goals this season have come from their *other* centre-forward, Deeney, much like Flash detergent, has been off doing the hard work so Odion Ighalo doesn't have to. Deeney, who is the Hornets' captain, has also weighed in with his fair share of the goals, but it's his selflessness that's arguably the 27-year-old's most impressive trait.

This article is brought to you by the film Creed. Adonis (Jordan), son of former world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, tracks Rocky (Stallone) down and asks him to be his trainer. Watch the trailer below.