By 90Min
March 11, 2018

Talent alone is not enough to succeed in football, and those individuals who exceed what is expected on a regular basis are the ones who really stand out from the crowd.

It takes desire, motivation, mental strength and much more.

These six players know all about that and consistently go above and beyond the call of duty...


James Milner

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While many players complain if they are not used in their favoured position, Liverpool vice-captain James Milner has made a whole career out of being readily willing to play any position that is asked of him.

The former England international spent the whole of 2016/17 filling in as a left-back for Liverpool and was a more than adequate stand-in as the Reds qualified for the Champions League for the first time in three years.

This season, Milner has returned to his usual midfield position, but he remains capable of playing anywhere on the pitch and seems incapable of ever having a bad game.


Gabi

Aitor Alcalde/GettyImages

Age is slowly starting to catch up with 34-year-old midfield destroyer Gabi and he's no longer able to start every game for Atletico Madrid, but he still gives everything whenever he walks onto the pitch.

The home-grown favourite is the solid foundation that complements his more skilled and technical teammates, helping them to perform to the best of their ability, with Atletico on course in 2017/18 for their highest La Liga finish since 2013/14.

Gabi was so incredible in the 2014 Champions League final that rarely has a losing player ever been more deserving of being on the winning team.


N'Golo Kante

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N'Golo Kante covers so much ground on a football pitch that he might as well be everywhere at once - that was what helped carry Leicester to the Premier League title in 2015/16.

Yet rather than be satisfied with potential 'one-season wonder' status, Kante repeated his stunning performances after sealing a big money move to Chelsea, yielding PFA, FWA and Premier League Player of the Year awards in 2016/17.

The likes of Eden Hazard and Willian might be Chelsea's flair players, but none of their success last season would have been possible without Kante's tireless running.


Juan Mata

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Moving away from the pitch for a moment, most footballers get involved in some kind of community work through their clubs. But Manchester United maestro Juan Mata does all that and more, and is genuinely breaking new ground in charitable work.

The 2010 World Cup winner is a driving force behind the growing Common Goal initiative, which sees footballers pledge 1% of their salary to charities using football as a way to nurture development in local communities around the world.

Mata helped get the project off the ground and has been crucial to its rapid expansion.


David de Gea

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David de Gea has established himself as the best goalkeeper in the world over the last few seasons by virtue of being so surprisingly busy at Manchester United.

While many top stoppers at elite level clubs might expect to enjoy relatively quiet games most weeks, De Gea is forced into action to make incredible world class saves almost every games and it never seems to dampen his spirit.

If anything, the Spaniard seems to thrive off it and is only getting better as a result.


Javier Mascherano

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The passion and desire that Javier Mascherano has for his sport is undeniable. The Argentine is a born winner and has the medal collection to prove it after spending 15 years with some of the most famous clubs in Europe and South America.

The single most striking example of Mascherano's drive came at the 2014 World Cup when he actually tore his anus stretching as far as he could to make a goal saving tackle against the Netherlands to send Argentina to their first final in 24 years.

And that was after he'd already been knocked unconscious in the same game and unadvisedly played on despite suffering a suspected concussion.


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