I think he was underrated.
Don’t think there’s a serious argument he was better than Stam, Carvalho, or van Dijk to be honest, but he didn’t have a noticeable weakness in his game unlike, for example, Vidic, Kompany or Terry.
The perfect mix of traditional and modern defender. Extremely quick, good positional awareness, strong, well organised, intelligent, but could mix it with the best of them and put a striker in row z if need be.
I do think we’ve somewhat reimagined him as a great ball-playing defender, though. He had unbelievable spacial intelligence and read the game brilliantly, but though he modernised the position in other ways, his passing was average, yet whenever people talk about him they act like it was one of his key attributes.
People forget he was captaining Leeds at 22. Granted, they’re a small provincial side without the pressures of a big club and quite a moderate, passive fan base, but some going that.