As the Premier League celebrates its 25th birthday, we thought it only right to try and tackle the big question: “Who are the best Premier League players ever?”
At PledgeSports, we’re huge football fans and have helped players, teams, and clubs raise huge amounts of money through sports crowdfunding.
Without further ado, here’s a rundown of the 10 best Premier League players from the last quarter century!
10. Steven Gerrard
A Liverpool legend, Steven Gerrard is, without doubt, one of the greats of the Premier League. On statistics alone, Gerrard has been named in the PFA Team of the Year eight times, the most of any player in the Premier League era.
Voted by fans as Liverpool’s second greatest player of all-time, Gerrard played 708 games for his hometown club, with a Champions League win in 2005 being his greatest achievement on Merseyside, coming in 2005, the year in which he was named UEFA Club Footballer of the Year and finishing third in the Ballon d’Or.
9. Eric Cantona
Described by Sir Alex Ferguson as one of only four world class players the Scot ever worked with, Eric Cantona is often regarded as the spark that ignited Manchester United’s Premier League dominance under Ferguson. The enigmatic forward earned cult status at Old Trafford for his flamboyant style of play and exceptional technique.
He scored 82 goals in 185 games for the club over five seasons and was even named their greatest ever player in one supporters poll. Cantona won four Premier League titles at Manchester United and was named the Premier League Overseas Player of the Decade.
8. Frank Lampard
Chelsea’s all-time leading goal scorer and quite probably the clubs greatest ever player, Frank Lampard is quite rightly regarded as one of the finest midfielders of his generation.
Lampard joined Chelsea after 6 years at West Ham and went on to become a legend at Stamford Bridge, spending 13 years at the club. In that time, Lampard won 17 trophies, including 3 Premier League titles, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year five times as well as the FIFPro World Team of the Year twice.
Perhaps Lampard’s most amazing trait was his goal scoring, he scored 262 in total, and is currently the fourth highest scorer in Premier League history, the only midfielder in the top 15.
7. Patrick Vieira
One of the greatest midfield enforcer of the Premier League era, and one of the greatest of all time, Arsenal have never looked the same since Patrick Vieira left the club. He provided the team with drive, leadership, and power in the midfield that Arsene Wenger has never quite replaced since the Frenchman’s departure.
He spent nine seasons in the Premier League with Arsenal, captaining them for three of those seasons as they won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups, with Vieira forming a legendary rivalry with Roy Keane.
Vieira made the PFA Team of the Year in six of his nine seasons at Arsenal and briefly returned to the Premier League with Manchester City at the end of his career.
6. Roy Keane
Love him or loathe him, Roy Keane is a legend of the Premier League era.
A born leader, Keane left nothing in the dressing room and demanded that none of his teammates did either. For that reason, he was pivotal for Manchester United, not to mention the fact that he was a terrific player. He joined Manchester United from Nottingham Forest, and spent 12 full seasons at Old Trafford, winning seven Premier League titles and 10 other trophies.
He was named in the PFA Team of the Year five times and was also named in the Overseas Premier League Team of the Decade.
5. Alan Shearer
Alan Shearer’s goal scoring feats alone means he is well worth his place in the upper reaches of this list. His record of 260 Premier League goals is a whopping 60 higher than Andy Cole and Wayne Rooney, and it would take some effort for Rooney to overtake Shearer before the end of his career.
In total, Shearer scored 379 goals in 734 games with Southampton, Blackburn, and Newcastle. He only won one Premier League title, with Blackburn, in 1995.
Had he joined Manchester United as he twice came close to doing, he would have won countless trophies, and likely scored many more goals, with the likes of Beckham, Scholes, and Giggs putting them on a plate for him.
Shearer won three Premier League Golden Boots and was named both Domestic Player of the Decade and Overall Player of the Decade, as well as holding the records for most goals in a Premier League season and most Premier League hat-tricks.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
Some may consider Cristiano Ronaldo to be too highly placed on this list given that he only spent six seasons in the Premier League, and in terms of longevity he ranks nowhere near that of Giggs, Lampard, Gerrard and many more.
However, Ronaldo is quite simply one of the greatest players to have ever lived, and for that reason alone, he finds himself almost at the top of this list. He is one of only two players to have won the Ballon d’Or while playing in the Premier League, winning the award in 2008 and since winning three more at Real Madrid.
He arrived at Manchester United as a slim, tricky 18-year-old and left as the most expensive player in history and widely regarded as being the best player in the world along with Lionel Messi.
He scored 118 goals in 292 games at Manchester United. He won nine trophies in six years at Old Trafford, including three Premier League titles, making the PFA Team of the Year four times and being named Manchester United Player of the Season three times.
3. Dennis Bergkamp
In terms of technique, grace, and control, few come close to Dennis Bergkamp in the history of the game. The Non-Flying Dutchman, as he was nicknamed, spent 11 seasons in the Premier League, all with Arsenal.
In that time he provided the perfect foil for both Ian Wright and Thierry Henry, with both describing him as a dream of a strike partner and Bergkamp making a very impressive 116 assists in his time with the Gunners, as well as scoring 120 goals in 423 games.
He came third in the 1992 Ballon d’Or and second in the 1993 Ballon d’Or and is a member of the English Football Hall of Fame.
2. Ryan Giggs
The most decorated player in the history of the game, with 25 trophies at Manchester United, Ryan Giggs has 13 Premier League winners medals, more than any other player and one of only two players in double figures.
The Welshman spent 24 seasons at Old Trafford, 22 in the Premier League, and played 963 games for Manchester United, scoring 168 goals. Giggs has by far the most assists in Premier League with history with 162 (next highest is 107) and is the 20th top scorer in the competition’s history, the third highest ranking midfielder.
In terms of longevity and achievements in the Premier League, no-one comes close to Giggs. A six-time PFA Team of the Year member, Giggs was also named in the PFA Team of the Century, the Champions League 10 Seasons Dream Team, the Premier League Team of the Decade and has made the most appearances in Premier League history.
1. Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry is the greatest player in Premier League history. He spent eight seasons in the league at Arsenal, where he played 377 games and scored 228 goals. He won seven trophies in that time, two being Premier League titles and one being Arsenal’s historic Invincible season.
After an unsuccessful spell at Juventus as a left winger, Arsene Wenger transformed Henry into the greatest striker of his generation. He had pace, technique, grace, balance and was ruthless in front of goal.
Henry won four Premier League Golden Boots, more than any other player, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year in six of his eight seasons in the Premier League.
He finished second in the 2003 Ballon d’Or and third in the 2006 Ballon d’Or; not only is Henry the fifth highest scorer in Premier League history, he also has the sixth most assists and holds the record for the most assists in a single season. Henry also won both Euro 2000 and the 1998 World Cup with France and is his country’s all-time record goal scorer.
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