A model of understated reliability

No player has turned out more often for Ukraine than Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. The FC Bayern Munich defensive midfielder became his nation's most capped player in November 2010, surpassing the 102 appearances of the legendary Oleg Blokhin, and is still going strong.

The three-time Ukrainian footballer of the year has had plenty of success on the club front too, with Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St Petersburg and, since 2009, FC Bayern. Indeed, apart from the UEFA Champions League, there is little left for him to win at club level, having taken league and cup titles in Ukraine, Russia and Germany and, with Zenit in 2008, the UEFA Cup, forerunner of the current Europa League.

Playing in Germany had been a dream of Tymoshchuk's ever since, as a youngster, he saw Lothar Matthäus performing at the 1990 World Cup. Through a former coach he managed to inherit an original captain's armband of the Germany great and he subsequently wore this "lucky charm" when skippering Zenit and Ukraine. Although Tymoshchuk is not captain of Bayern, the armband still accompanies him to matches nonetheless. A more lasting testimony to Matthäus' influence however is Tymoshchuk's own commanding style of play in defensive midfield, a low-profile variant on that of his former role-model.