Ronaldo, Neuer & Di Maria - Former Bayern & Real Madrid star Altintop spoilt for choice in team-mates XI
Hamit Altintop has found space for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Manuel Neuer in an XI of top team-mates, but struggled to whittle down his choices.
The former Turkey international currently finds himself without a club having parted company with Darmstadt in January.
He is now 35 years of age, but is able to reflect on a memorable career which has seen him grace the books at Schalke, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Galatasaray.
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Over the course of those spells, the experienced midfielder has worked alongside some iconic figures of the modern era.
Charged with the task of skimming the cream from the top, Altintop admitted to Goal that selecting just 11 names would not be easy, given the depth of the talent pool available to him.
He said: “How can I build a team right now? I have Neuer, [Iker] Casillas and [Oliver] Kahn for the goalkeeper position.
“Luca Toni, Cristiano Ronaldo, [Miroslav] Klose, [Karim] Benzema, [Gonzalo] Higuain as strikers…”
Eventually, Altintop was able to narrow down his selection and piece together a star-studded side.
He said of his choices: “Neuer, [Philipp] Lahm, Lucio, [Sergio] Ramos, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso, Ze Roberto.
“Left wing [Franck] Ribery, right wing [Angel] Di Maria, in front of them Higuain.
“Even though I like Benzema I will select Higuain, and finally at the end Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Altintop was not pressed on a choice of manager, but current Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes is a coach he holds in the highest regard having previously worked with him at Schalke.
He said of a man still operating on a short-term deal at the Allianz Arena: “We worked together back in 2003, in Schalke.
“He bonds Spanish and German styles of football, that is his main characteristic. He is very responsive, fatherly and has great relationships with people around him.
“His treble of the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup made it more difficult to replace him.
“Pep Guardiola achieved incredible things with Bayern, developed the team, completed a three-peat in the Bundesliga, but couldn’t win the Champions League trophy.
“[Carlo] Ancelotti also has a remarkable career, but he couldn’t fit in the German culture. With Heynckes back, Bayern has that atmosphere again.”
Altintop believes a promising German coach, such as Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann or Schalke’s Domenico Tedesco will ultimately succeed Heynckes, with another change in the Bayern dugout expected at the end of the season.
Whoever is at the helm for 2018-19 will have a talented group at their disposal, with the reigning Bundesliga champions already planning for the future after putting a deal in place for highly-rated midfielder Leon Goretzka.
Altintop added on a man following a similar career path to himself: “I think Leon’s style is similar to mine. I too played over 100 Bundesliga matches with Schalke and moved to Bayern without a fee.
“He is very talented and physically strong. He might struggle in his early days at Bayern but we can say he has a bright future.”