Praise doesn’t come much higher for a full-back than being compared to a modern great like Dani Alves.
Well, according to Kenny Cunningham, Stephen Carr is not only comparable to Dani Alves but the Irishman was actually a superior player to the Brazil legend.
“He was as good as anyone I’ve played [with] or actually I’ve seen,” Cunningham said of Carr.
'Better than Dani Alves.'
Is Stephen Carr one of Ireland's most underrated footballing talents?
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) July 21, 2020
“Say great full-backs in the modern game, Dani Alves probably springs to lot of people’s minds as great world class full-backs. Dani Alves might be up there as a lot of people’s top full-back – maybe top three of the last 10 years.
“But I’ll tell you now I’d take Stephen Carr ahead of Dani Alves any day of the week. Stephen Carr was a far better defender than Dani Alves.
“Dani Alves’ stats going forward maybe in terms of goals scored and assists are probably superior but as an all-round player, which I value an awful lot in the full-back area of the pitch in terms of their defensive strengths and their attacking strengths of an equal measure.
“For me, Stephen Carr was a better player. I’d have Stephen Carr in my team every day of the week.”
Cunningham was gushing in his praise of Carr, suggesting that the former Spurs, Newcastle and Birmingham defender had all the talent to play for some of the top teams in Europe if his career hadn’t been hampered by injuries.
Throughout his career, Carr was plagued by multiple knee injuries and it was ultimately that issue that persuaded him to retire in 2013.
Cunningham continued: “There’s a player I played with, for me, he’s as good as any player I’ve played with. I didn’t see much better in the time I was playing football – than Stephen Carr.
“I never played with Stephen in club football, I only played with him in international football and Stephen for me, when he was fit and playing, there was nobody better.
“I didn’t play with, or at times see, a better full-back than Stephen Carr. Stephen Carr had everything. In the modern game we’re so used to talking about full-backs with attacking qualities, how productive they are in the opposition half of the pitch, goals, assists.
“It’s almost a given that they can’t really defend. If they can defend to a basic level it’s a bonus. Stephen Carr could do everything. Stephen Carr was a very good defender, very tenacious, great one-v-one, would never be beaten, ridiculously quick, physically strong, good positional sense.
“So as a centre-half, if you had Stephen on your right-hand side, you knew you were cruising.”