Javier Mascherano: The Iron Man
The steely sentinel in Argentina's midfield
Born: June 8, 1984, in San Lorenzo, Argentina
Nickname: El Jefe (the Chief)
Clubs played for: Mascherano bounced around several clubs early in his career: after a successful beginning at River Plate, he joined Corinthians for a short spell then joined West Ham United for an even shorter spell. After the legality of his move to West Ham was challenged in late 2006, he was loaned to Liverpool in the January 2007 transfer window and immediately established himself as the Reds holding midfielder. It is rare that Liverpool starts a game without El Jefe standing in front of the back four.
International career: Mascherano has made more than 55 appearances for Argentina since 2003, and his greatest accomplishments for La Albiceleste (White and Sky blue) include two Olympic gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Games.
Why is he so special? Mascherano is an uncompromising defensive midfielder who is among the best ball winners in Europe. Although he has a fiery temper, Mascherano is an excellent tackler capable of stealing the ball from even the most confident attacker.
His most famous moment: Liverpool might have lost the 2007 Champions League final to AC Milan, but Mascherano was the man of the match after he chased down Milan's players for the entire 90 minutes.
He said it: "I've always modeled myself on Claude Makelele. I've played against him a few times, and on each occasion, he seemed more and more of a special player."
What they're saying about him: "Mascherano has no price" – Rafa Benítez, Liverpool manager
An interesting fact: They might have played for rival teams in Argentina and England, but Mascherano (River Plate and Liverpool) and Carlos Tévez (Boca Juniors and Manchester United) are the best of friends.