Continuing on the theme of the best players lists I have made a list of whom I believe to be the best players in the history of the English Premier League. Obviously, once again, there will be different opinions on who’s in and who’s out, so feel free to leave a comment on any issue you have. The list is Manchester United heavy, not as any bias, but because they have been the Premier League’s dominant team, and so will have the best players.Great current players, like Rooney, Ronaldo, Terry and Fabregas have been left out because the full impact of their careers have not been felt yet, but they will undoubtedly make any future lists. The list is in no particular order.
1. Peter Schmeichel. The dominant Danish keeper will no doubt top any list of great Premier League keepers. Ended Sir Alex’s search for a top class shot stopper when he signed from Brondby in ’92 for 530 000 pounds, a figure Alex Ferguson described as the bargain of the century. He holds the record for the best games to clean sheet ratio in the Premier League with 42%.
2. Denis Irwin. The Cork born full back was dubbed “Mr Dependable” and was usually one of the first names pencilled in for any United squad and always gave a solid performance. During his time at United he won 7 league titles as well as 3 FA Cups, a League Cup, a Cup Winners Cup, and the Champions League. He was a member of the treble team of ‘99. Played at United until he was 37.
3. Tony Adams. Spent all 22 years of his playing career at Arsenal, having joined as a school boy. Played over 504 times for club, scoring 32 goals, and 66 times for England, finding the back of the net on 5 occasions. The commanding centre back was still one of the best defenders in the league well into his 30’s.
4. Patrick Viera. The Senegal born French footballer joined Arsenal as a relative unknown on 1996 from AC Milan. He remained at the club for 9 years before moving to Juventus. Particular on field highlights of his time at Arsenal where the fierce mid field battles that were fought out against Roy Keane. Viera captained Arsenal after Tony Adams retired and was captain of the team during their unbeaten title winning season.
5. Dennis Bergkamp. Joined Arsenal from Inter in 1995 and remained there until his retirement in 2006. Bergkamp was one of the best players in the supportive striker role that has graced any pitch in the world. His tactical awareness and deft touches almost made it look like he had all the time in the world. Regarded as perhaps the most important buy in Arsenal history, not just for his on field influence, but also it allowed Arsenal to attract other top class foreign players. Is the only player in Premier League history to come 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the same month for the goal of the month competition.
6. Roy Keane. Signed by Manchester United for a then British record of 3,75 million pounds, Keane went on to become Uniteds most influential and inspirational leaders. He won 7 league titles, 4 as captain, during his time at United. Although playing in a glamourless role of defence midfielder, Keane will go down as one of the best players in the history of the game. His reading of the game, and match situations, more then made up for what he lacked in skill.
7. Ryan Giggs. Is the only player to have played and scored in every season of the Premier Leagues history. Giggs is the Leagues most decorated player with 9 title wins to his name. The left sided midfield player has been a model professional throughout his career, all of it spent at United, and continues to surprise many pundits with his form and consistency as he enters the twilight of his career. Will go down as one of United and the Premier Leagues best players, if not the best.
8. Paul Scholes. The quiet man of the Manchester United midfield for the last decade, Scholes has been the creative genius behind many title winning seasons at United. While Beckham and Giggs may have taken the limelight the influence of Scholes can not be underestimated. Described as the one of the best finishers he as ever seen by his manager, Sir Alex, Scholes has weighed in with important goals throughout his United career. Has sorely been missed by England since his retirement at 29 to prolong his United career.
9. Eric Cantona. Cantona was the catalyst to United ending their 26 year wait for the League title, and kicked off their period of dominance in the 90’s. Cantona brought class and sophistication to a talented team that thought it was cursed to never win the league. He was voted United’s greatest ever player.
10. Alan Shearer. The Leagues all time top scorer with 260 goals, is the only player to have scored 100 goals for 2 Premier League clubs, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United. Scored 34 times in Blackburns title winning season of 94-95, the only club honours he was to win. Moved on to his home town club Newcastle for 15 million pounds, a world record at the time. Scored 206 goals for Newcaslte, a club record, before retiring in 2006
11. Gianfranco Zola. Joined Chelsea from Parma in 1996 and went on to play 229 games for the club, scoring 59 times. Zola has been voted as the best ever Chelsea player by the clubs fans. In the pre Abromovich days, Zola was instrumental in making Chelsea a successful cup team, winning 2 FA Cups, a League Cup, a Cup Winners Cup and a European Super Cup with Chelsea.
12. Thierry Henry. Arsenals all time top scorer with a prolific return of 174 goals in 254 games. Following Viera’s move to Juventus, Henry was named club captain, a role he fulfilled until his recent departure to Barcelona. As much a maker of goals as he was a goal scorer Henry will go down as Arsenals best player ever and one of the best the Premier League has ever seen.
13. David Beckham. Becks played the best part of his career at Manchester United before moving on to Real Madrid. During his time at United, which began as a school boy and ended when he was 28, he was regarded as the best free kick taker and crosser of a ball in the world. Behind all the glamour and chaos of his life away from football, Beckham was still an excellent midfield player.