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Ward reveals footballing icons who inspired him growing up

27 April 2020

Speaking with Premier League Productions, Joel Ward didn't hold back when asked who his footballing heroes were growing up as a child.

Instead Ward, born 1989, drew upon some of the most iconic names in world football - and singled out a well known face from closer to home, too.

"I grew up in an era where we were blessed to have so many incredible players," he said. "The likes of Ronaldo, [Zinedine] Zidane, [Paolo] Maldini and all these great players. There are a few I looked up to and liked watching; the elegance they played with. I loved the humbleness as well at times of some of the top players.

"You look at Xavi and [Andrés] Iniesta and those guys - they get on with it, keep their heads down and let their football do the talking. That speaks volumes. I had a few to look up to and a few local ones as well who helped me along the way - someone like Linvoy Primus was an influencer for me and kind of a mentor for me growing up."

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Turning his attention to the period of football he's been able to impact, Ward also revealed the best players he's played both with and against, drawing attention to a teammate many fans wouldn't have realised. 

"Being in the Premier League the list can go on and on for various different reasons. I’d say someone current would be like Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva or [Sadio] Mane. Those kind of guys; [Sergio] Aguero. They’re just frightening in terms of their movement, their knowledge of the game, their intelligence on the pitch.

"It’s a tough one to narrow it down because we’re blessed in the Premier League to have world class players to come up against week in, week out. On their day, anyone can make it a difficult afternoon for you.

"I’ve been fortunate to play alongside some great players. In terms of accolades and trophies, you’ve got to look at [Nwankwo] Kanu, someone who was incredible technically. [And] someone like Gaz [Gary Cahill] - what he’s done in the game, the medals he’s won, and the career he’s had, what he’s achieved."

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