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A moments appreciation for Stoke City's Joe Allen

Thursday 9th March 2017
Joe Allen is only 26-years of age. I personally find this hard to believe, the guy seems to have been around in football forever and is certainly a name you will be used to hearing. But not always in a positive way.

I believe in Allen, we have a player who is hugely underrated in football and more lately has been scapegoated for various internet trolling and memes based on his appearance. Earning the comedic nickname 'The Welsh Pirlo' after Italian legend.

But in my opinion, Allen being mentioned in the same breath as one of the greatest ever footballers to grace the game is not as far off the point than you may think. The midfielder has established himself as one of the first players on the team sheet at Stoke City in the Premier League, as well as for his country Wales. He is a hugely important player for both of these teams and is a large reason of both of their recent success.

Wales had a great show in the recent European Championships and Allen was key to this, as he has been for Stoke's solid yet inconsistent turn out in the league this season. I truly believe that the Welshman does not receive enough plaudits for his efforts and performances.

As a youngster, Allen came through the youth ranks at Swansea City and quickly became a fans favourite due to his commitment and desire. He went on the spend 12 years at the club and was a big part of their rise to the Premier League, this is where he really made a name for himself at such a young age and established himself as a top midfielder.

In the meantime he was breaking into the Wales Senior Squad and establishing himself as an important player there as well, perhaps being the pinnacle and the start of the interest from some of the major Clubs in the UK.

Liverpool were the ones who recognised his ability and forked out £15 million to bring Allen in. He then went on to spend 4 years at Anfield, gaining 92 appearances for the club, which is nothing to be sniffed at.

But once again, he became the scapegoat at Liverpool, a club that expects and demands constant perfection. Allen struggled at times with Liverpool as many claimed he was not good enough. I disagree. It was the players' big move, big break, he was playing alongside some huge names in stature and was solid throughout in my opinion.

Fast forward to last year and a pat on the back to Allen and his advisors who decided to make the move to Stoke City and play under the impressive Mark Hughes. This was the focal point of his career and has bought him back to being one of the best around in his position.

As a defensive midfielder, he is superb, simply majestic. If you watch and study his positioning throughout a game it is near perfection, he will always be involved in the play whether it is in the opposition penalty area, the centre circle or making up the numbers as a centre-back in his own box, this guy is everywhere on that pitch.

He plays the classic holding role, does the basics, hardly ever loses the ball, breaks up play magnificently, has a solid biting tackle, great vision and will also score you an important goal. Add to that the fact he is a blessed finisher, has good pace and intelligence, here you have all the qualities of a top class midfielder and I don't say that lightly.

He has been so important for Stoke this season, without Allen they don't look as secure and don't operate as effectively. Hughes has given him the confidence, the freedom and the coaching to allow him to play as he wants, express himself and realise his importance to the team, something he never had at Liverpool.

Wales and Stoke have a really fantastic talent here and still at only 26, he has the peak of his career to come, just watch the rise of the Welsh Pirlo.

Simon Phillips
Simon Phillips
Football Writer for the last 7 years, specialising in the English Premier League and covering a wide range of topics.

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