Thomas Vermaelen provides almost total reassurance when he is on the pitch. Unfortunately, his body does not offer the same guarantees. Haunted by injuries after a successful start to his time at Arsenal, where he performed so reliably that he was handed the captain's armband, 'The Verminator' has kept working and kept proving his worth.
Now at Barcelona, the defender has shown both club and country that he remains a tough but clean tackler, while boasting a keen sense of positioning. Those qualities have made him popular with a succession of coaches, and Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has regularly turned to the 32-year-old, who can operate with equal ease at centre-back or left-back.