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This list is sure to divide opinion due to the amount of football greats to grace the Premier League since its inception back in 1992. It was extremely difficult to narrow it down to just five.
I’ve based my selections within this list on player’s ability and the impact they had for their team(s) whilst in the Premier League. That means the list isn’t purely based on the players longevity or team accolades, but rather their personal contribution and the legacy they left.
5. John Terry
Picking my number five spot was the hardest decision in my list. Initially, it was a tossup between Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard. However I decided I wanted to give praise to a defender instead. When discussing the greatest Premier League defenders, you can’t look beyond John Terry.
Captain, leader, legend. This three-word description was given to John Terry by Chelsea fans due to his on-pitch heroics for countless seasons. I’m sure other sets of fans have very different opinions when discussing Terry, however, we’ll stay clear of those and keep this PG.
Terry was a proper hard-man defender who read the game superbly and always led by example. One of his strongest attributes was his aerial presence when defending and attacking. Terry bagged 41 Premier League goals, making him the highest scoring defender in the league’s history.
John Terry went from being a young prospect to a seasoned veteran at Chelsea, captaining the Blues to five Premier League titles.
He gained the armband under Jose Mourinho in 2004, where Chelsea went on to win back-to-back titles. In the 2004/05 campaign, Terry was deservedly awarded the PFA Player of the Year for his outstanding contribution to Chelsea’s defence; the Blues only conceded 15 Premier League goals in 38 games. This is an outrageously impressive stat.
John Terry won everything there is to win in club football, including the 5 aforementioned Premier League titles, as well as 4 FA Cups, 3 League Cups, 1 UEFA Europa League and 1 UEFA Champions League. Outstanding!
4. Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez is without doubt one of the most technically gifted players to ever grace the Premier League. I’ve never seen a player destroy defences with such ease. He makes the game look effortless.
In the 2013-14 campaign, Liverpool emerged as title challengers and were desperately unlucky not to become champions, losing out to Manchester City on the last day of the season. Suarez’s contribution made a decent Liverpool team into a world class force. He displayed flair and skill with a constant drive to win.
His ability and sheer presence on the pitch was the key factor to Liverpool’s great season. Though Liverpool didn’t win the title, there was no doubt who the best player in the Premier League was that season.
Suarez was banned for the first five Premier League games, yet still finished the League’s top scorer and won the PFA Player of the Year award. The man just couldn’t stop scoring as he netted 31 goals in 33 games.
Once Suarez left Liverpool, he carried on being a superstar at Barcelona, forming one of the greatest front three partnerships of all time alongside Messi and Neymar. Liverpool went in the complete opposite direction, finishing sixth in the Premier League, which reiterated the importance of Suarez.
Suarez somewhat dampened his legacy at Liverpool due to numerous on pitch controversies, which will result in him often being remembered for the wrong reasons. However, his genius with a ball at his feet will ensure he will also be remembered for being a footballing maestro.
3. Alan Shearer
Alan Shearer was simply put on this earth to score goals and entertain!
Shearer is the all-time Premier League top goalscorer with 260 goals, a figure that is head and shoulders above anyone else in the Premier League era.
Throughout his career, Shearer has always been the main man wherever he played. His Premier League journey started when he signed for Blackburn Rovers, moving from Southampton. Shearer finished as the club’s top scorer in all three seasons at Ewood Park. He was the driving factor towards the clubs remarkable 1994-95 season, becoming Premier League champions and winning the PFA Player of the Year Award.
In 1997, Shearer made the move to his boyhood club Newcastle United for a then world record fee of £15 million. Shearer continued his outstanding goalscoring form, becoming Newcastle United’s all-time top goalscorer and leading the magpie to the Champions League. This cemented his legacy as a living legend to the city of Newcastle.
When you think of all time Premier League greats, Alan Shearer is a man that should always springs to mind. For many people, he could easily be higher up the list.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Now let’s not get mistaken, Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player to ever grace the Premier League when focusing on overall career. However, purely basing this on his run with Manchester United, he is only good enough for second place.
Ronaldo was unlike anyone the Premier League had ever seen before. It was evident earlier into his Manchester United career that he was going to be a superstar. However, I don’t think anyone could’ve imagined just how great he’d become.
A first glimpse of Ronaldo dominating on the big occasions was in the 2004 FA Cup Final, when United beat Millwall 3-0, which was the first of many trophies he’d win during his run in England.
Manchester United were a team full of top-class talent, including fellow superstar prospect Wayne Rooney, yet Ronaldo became the main man at the club in one of the greatest, if not the greatest ever Premier League side.
In the 2006-07 season, Manchester United won their 16th Premier League title, and Cristiano Ronaldo became only the second ever player to win the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year award in one season (Previously achieved by Andy Gray in 1976-77 season). Ronaldo then went onto claim the 2007-08 PFA Player of the Year award as United won their 17th title. This pattern continued in the 08-09 season as the Red Devils won a record-tying 18th League title in Ronaldo’s final season. Manchester United became the first Premier League team to secure three straight League titles.
In 2008, Cristiano Ronaldo won his first Ballon d’Or award whilst playing for Manchester United, an honour he went on to achieve a further four times whilst at Real Madrid.
1. Thierry Henry
Growing up and watching Thierry Henry for Arsenal was simply inspiring. Henry was a strong and pacey player with outstanding link-up play and legendary finishing. The man was without doubt a football icon, as well as being a very cool and suave individual.
Whilst playing in the Premier League, Henry scored 175 goals in 258 appearances, and he finished as the league's top goalscorer a record four times.
Henry enjoyed many outstanding seasons with Arsenal, most notably during the 2003/04 season when Arsenal became invincible. They did not lose a single game throughout the entire league campaign, a feat that has not been achieved since and may never be achieved again in our lifetime. Henry was instrumental in that season for the Gunners as he netted 30 goals.
Though the Invincible season was impressive, I personally believe Henry’s best season to have been the 2002/03 campaign. He scored 24 goals and delivered 20 assists, which is still a record for most assists in a Premier League season, alongside Kevin De Bruyne. This stat proves that Henry was so much more than just goals, he was an all-round remarkable team player.
Henry won the PFA Player of the Year award for both the aforementioned seasons.
Thierry Henry spent seven seasons at Arsenal, winning three FA Cups and clinching two Premier League titles for the Gunners, as well as captaining Arsenal to the Champions League final in 2006.
Henry is without question Arsenal's greatest ever player, and in my opinion, he is the greatest player to ever grace the Premier League.
Honourable Mentions (in no particular order)
- Steven Gerrard
- Eric Cantona
- Petr Cech
- Frank Lampard
- Wayne Rooney
- Sergio Aguero
- David Silva
- Virgil Van Dijk
- Jamie Vardy
- Roy Keane
- Rio Ferdinand
- Patrick Viera
- Ruud Van Nistelrooy
- Harry Kane
- Gianfranco Zola
- Kevin De Bruyne
- Tony Adams
- Dennis Bergkamp
- Didier Drogba
- Eden Hazard
- Paul Scholes
- Mohamed Salah
- Peter Scheichel
- Ryan Giggs
- Ashley Cole
© 2021 Edward Robinson