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Opinion: My Greatest All-Time Bolton Wanderers XI

Chris takes a wander down memory lane, and meets some old friends on the way

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

I have been watching Bolton Wanderers for the best part of 25 years now. I could probably name three or four different 'best' sides in that time - but that's not really the point of this piece.

I've had the privilege to watch some absolutely sensational players over the years, and some absolute dross at the same time (we'll come on to this in a few days' time).

We all have our favourite players, and so I thought it might be an interesting exercise to document my own best Bolton Wanderers XI, in a traditional 4-4-2 formation:

1) Jussi Jaaskelainen

I almost, ALMOST went with Keith Branagan for this one - given that the former Millwall keeper was the first real goalkeeping stalwart of my time supporting the club, but Jussi has to get the nod. Was there ever a more reliable keeper in the Premier League era? Plus you can't tell me that a fee of just £100,000 in return for nigh on 500 appearance doesn't make the Finnish stopper the GREATEST pound-for-pound signing in English football history.

2) Gudni Bergsson

The Icelandic defender made almost 250 appearances for the club, both at right back and centre half, and fulfilled both roles with aplomb. A stalwart throughout the Premier League era, it is now 12 years since he last pulled on a Wanderers shirt and I'd be hard pressed to come up with a more consistent performer in all that time.

3) Vincent Candela

The Roma defender joined on loan in 2005 and made a real impact in his ten appearances for the club. A class act, he was the perfect modern defender capable of reading the game well and being dangerous on the attack. It was a real shame that his short spell at the Reebok was curtailed by a desire to return to play in Italy.

4) Per Frandsen

The Dane made himself a real hero to fans of Bolton during his two spells at the club, from 1996-1999, and then from 2000-2004. A tough-tackler with a lightness of touch akin to a Brazilian, he could score goals and run all day long. His departure to Wigan Athletic in 2004 was a sad day for all involved with the club.

5) Gary Cahill

Possibly the greatest centre half ever to play for Bolton, the former Aston Villa defender brought a calmness to the Wanderers defence, and made almost 130 appearances before leaving to join Chelsea for £7m, where he went on to win almost every conceivable honour in the game. A really classy defender who was also a threat going forward, his departure was a primary factor in our relegation that season.

6) Ivan Campo

The former Real Madrid and Valencia man hardly looked like a footballer, with his straggly hair and somewhat unkempt appearance, and few saw him likely to develop into the cult hero that he would go on to become. Moved from being a rather unreliable centre half to a dominant holding midfielder by Sam Allardyce, Campo had the grace and touch of a (football playing) ballet dancer, and was a classy individual to boot. He left to join Ipswich Town in 2008.

7) David Lee

The greatest English right-winger since Tom Finney, the Whitefield-born Lee signed for Wanderers from Southampton in 1992 and went on to make over 150 appearances. Blessed with fantastic pace and a lovely dinked cross, he set up an untold number of goals for Nathan Blake and John McGinlay - and also knew where the net was. Now running the club's academy I can think of nobody better for the next generation of Wanderers to learn from.

8) Jay Jay Okocha

The Nigerian prince was a delight to behold during his four seasons at the club from 2002 onwards. Okocha was a trickster who served as club captain for a time before leaving to join Qatar SC. A set-piece expert, he scored the greatest free-kick in footballing history at home to Aston Villa in the Carling Cup Semi Final back in 2004.

9) Nicolas Anelka

What can you say about Anelka? The former Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain striker was our record signing at £8m, and our record sale at £15m. In between we saw displays of the finest calibre as the surprisingly humble and hard-working Frenchman won hearts and minds in his two seasons at the club. Still remembered fondly to this day, which isn't always the case with our strikers.

10) Kevin Davies

Signed on a free transfer in 2003, the former Southampton man went on to make over 400 appearances for the club, many as captain, throughout one of the most glorious eras in our history. Given a free transfer by megabell Dougie Freedman, Davies also made an appearance for England whilst a Wanderer which gave immense pride to the onlooking Wanderers there to see their captain, their leader and their legend get his long overdue reward.

11) Youri Djorkaeff

The French maestro signed for Bolton on loan in 1999 from Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern following spells at Internazionale, Paris Saint Germain and Monaco. Another world star brought to the club by Sam Allardyce, Djorkaeff was a driving force in our Premier League survival and truly earned the moniker 'Le God'.

So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts below the line.

Apologies in advance to Jamie Pollock, Nathan Blake, John McGinlay and Alan Thompson.