Top 10 EPL players of all time
The English Premier League is the most-viewed sports league in the world. International TV contracts have made the EPL rich and the clubs have been able to recruit the best global talent. The question is: which of those superstars are worthy of a spot in our all-time EPL top 10 list?
Any list of this nature is subjective and prone to a little bias. The writer is a huge Manchester United fan, but he has tried to be impartial. Here are his top 10 EPL players of all time, in no particular order.
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The leading scorer in Premier League history is the first name in a list of the top EPL players. Shearer scored 260 goals in 441 appearances in the EPL during spells with Blackburn Rovers (1992-96) and Newcastle United (1996-2006). In 14 seasons, Shearer scored more than 30 league goals 10 times. He also scored 30 goals for England in 63 matches and was the top scorer at Euro 96. Shearer could have moved to Manchester United but chose to play for the team he supported as a boy. He represented Newcastle over 10 seasons and is still the club’s record EPL scorer. Shearer was renowned for his all-round forward play and is widely regarded as the greatest out-and-out striker in Premier League history.
Thierry Henry struggled to make an impact at the start of his Premier League career with Arsenal. However, he ultimately became one of the best EPL footballers and one of the greatest overseas players to play for the Gunners. Signed from Juventus in 1999, Henry scored 174 goals in 254 EPL matches and 226 goals in all competitions during his eight seasons at Arsenal. The French striker also scored 51 goals in 123 appearances for his country and was part of France’s squad that won the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Henry was voted the FWA Player of the Year in three seasons and was the Premier League Player of the Season twice. He also played for Barcelona and ended his career at New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer.
Steven Gerrard is the epitome of the Premier League one-club man. Jose Mourinho was a big admirer and came close to luring Gerrard to Chelsea at his peak, but the Merseyside native decided to stay at the club he supported as a boy. Gerrard scored 176 career goals in 710 matches for Liverpool between 1998 and 2015. He ended his career playing Major League Soccer for LA Galaxy, but his legacy is being one of the best EPL players of all time. Gerrard’s greatest achievement was winning the UEFA Champions League final in 2005, where Liverpool trailed AC Milan 3-0 at half-time but went on to win the match on penalties. Gerrard scored 21 goals in 114 England matches and captained his country at Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup.
Frank Lampard earns his place in the list of the best EPL footballers for his work ethic and scoring record from midfield with Chelsea. He played for the club over 13 seasons and scored 147 goals in 420 Premier League fixtures. Lampard was a box-to-box midfielder who timed his runs into the penalty area expertly. He was part of the so-called Golden Generation of England players alongside the likes of Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes. That squad never delivered at the highest level, but Lampard scored 29 goals for England in 106 matches. His time at Chelsea makes him one of the top EPL players in the league’s history.
Dennis Bergkamp scored 87 Premier League goals for Arsenal in 315 matches. He was part of the Invincibles squad that did not lose a fixture during the 2003-04 Premier League season. The Dutch striker joined Arsenal in 1995 and remained there until his retirement in 2006. In his time with the club they won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and lost in the final of the Champions League in 2006. That was Bergkamp’s last match for Arsenal and the end of his playing career. He scored 37 goals for Holland in 79 matches. Bergkamp was renowned for his vision, touch and technique, while his strike partnership with Thierry Henry was beyond comparison.
The Italian striker is seen by some pundits as the best overseas player to appear in the Premier League. There is no doubt that his form at Chelsea makes Gianfranco Zola one of the best EPL players of all time. Over seven seasons at Stamford bridge he scored 59 goals in 229 Premier League matches, but it was his overall ability and skill that made Zola one the best EPL footballers in the history of the competition. Zola scored 10 times in 35 matches for Italy in an era where opportunities were scarce due to the presence of Roberto Baggio, Alessandro Del Piero and several other gun forwards.
Arguably the best midfielder in Premier League history, Scholes only ever played for Manchester United in the competition. He had the ability to control the tempo of a match with long and short passing and also scored his fair share of goals. Scholes was an intrinsic part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s success at the club, playing 718 times for Manchester United in all competitions and scoring 155 goals. The Salford native retired from international duty at age 29 after he was shunted out of position to accomodate Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in an overloaded midfield, yet he managed 66 appearances and 14 goals for England.
Matt Le Tissier
On the basis of wonderful goals, you have to include Matt Le Tissier in a list of the top 10 EPL players of all time. He also had a great scoring record from the penalty spot. Le Tissier could have gone to bigger clubs but spent his entire playing career at Southampton. Le Tissier scored 98 goals in 256 EPL matches over 10 seasons, but his overall record for the Saints stands at 209 goals in 540 games. He found the net with strikes from both feet and was renowned as a great entertainer. Le Tissier failed to score in his eight international appearances, but chances were few and far between with the likes of Paul Gascoigne and David Platt running the England midfield.
Eric Cantona found his true football home at Old Trafford with Manchester United. He was a surprise signing from Leeds United in November 1992 and proved a vital part of the Red Devils team that won the first Premier League title at the end of that season. Cantona scored 56 goals in 143 Premier League matches for the club, including the winner in the 1996 FA Cup final against Liverpool. He was named the Footballer of the Year that season. Cantona scored 20 goals for France in 45 full internationals but was overlooked for the 1998 World Cup as Les Bleus won on home soil.
Cristiano Ronaldo took his career and scoring records to a new level when he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid at the end of the 2008-09 season. He scored 84 times in 196 EPL appearances for United but found the net 450 times in 436 matches for Real Madrid. At the time of writing he is one goal short of 100 goals for Portugal, scored in 164 matches. Ronaldo is many pundits’ choice as the best player in Premier League history. There is no doubt he is one of the top EPL players of all time.