I was fortunate enough to play and train alongside Steven Gerrard and David Beckham for club and country, and their crossing never ceased to amaze me.
The secret of their success at whipping balls into the box was that they didn’t need to stop to take a touch. They could put the goal on a plate for you at the first time of asking.
It gives the opposition defence no time to get organised. It catches them cold, rather than giving them a moment to ready themselves.
Kevin De Bruyne assisted both of Manchester City's goals against Tottenham on Saturday
Stevie and Becks wouldn’t take unnecessary touches, and neither does Kevin De Bruyne. Right now, there is no better crosser of the ball than the 28-year-old Belgian.
The way he gets it into Manchester City’s forwards in a flash, it is like a sixth sense. That is what he did brilliantly against Tottenham.
In the 20th minute, Bernardo Silva cut the ball back to De Bruyne. With one touch, he whipped a cross to the back post for Raheem Sterling, who had sneaked in behind Kyle Walker-Peters to head home.
Then in the 35th minute, Silva again fed De Bruyne. With one touch, he drilled the ball into the feet of Sergio Aguero, who made it 2-1.
It sounds easy, but it is a skill in itself. He spots a team-mate, finds him with a single touch, bang, goal.
De Bruyne crosses for Raheem Sterling to head home the opener during the first half
My old England team-mate Beckham was the best I’ve ever seen when it came to crossing. He knew his strengths. He didn’t have to beat a man — he was confident of finding space and creating goals.
De Bruyne is City’s equivalent. When you’ve got someone like him, it makes your job as a striker so much easier. You know that if you burst into the empty space, then he will find you. Sterling knew that on Saturday and so did Aguero.
It helps that he used to spend time on the wing at Genk, where he started his career. That helped him hone his crossing skills.
In 2016-17, De Bruyne ranked fifth in the Premier League for number of crosses. In 2017-18, he ranked fourth. His 2018-19 was curtailed by injury but he has fired off 15 so far in the current campaign, and two of those led to goals against Tottenham.
Like David Beckham, De Bruyne doesn't need to take a touch before putting the ball in the box
It is frightening to think that City did what they did last season with De Bruyne only fit enough to feature in 19 Premier League games. Imagine what they can do under Pep Guardiola this year if he stays fit.
I was at the Etihad and towards the end of this match, for the final 20 minutes or so, De