Who is the Premier League’s greatest player in history? Check it out as Ronaldo.com names the 10 best footballers to star in the English top-flight.
Since its inception in 1992, the Premier League has become the most popular and competitive European league. Just about everyone keeps tabs on the action in England. What with all the thrilling games to the high-profile disputes, there’s always plenty of drama around.
Out of the 49 clubs to compete in the Premier League, Manchester United are the most successful. The Red Devils have claimed 13 league titles. While Chelsea (5), Manchester City (4), Arsenal (3), Blackburn Rovers (1) and Leicester City (1) are the other winners in the English top-flight.
But just who is the best Premier League player of all-time?
Here, Ronaldo.com answers this question by naming the 10 best footballers to play in England.
10. Patrick Vieira – ‘Paddy’
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The Frenchman’s grittiness, aggression and resilient style of play made him one of the Premier League’s most feared players. He was hard but fair in matches, and great at reading his foes.
Vieira played a huge role in Arsene Wenger’s revolution of English football, helping transform Arsenal into a dominant force. Captaining the Invincibles in 2003/04 to league glory was his finest moment.
“You look at Dennis Bergkamp and you look at Thierry Henry and people say they are great players and rightly so,” said old rival Roy Keane.
“There are statues of these guys outside the Emirates Stadium but without Patrick winning the ball and giving it to them they would almost be redundant.”
9. Roy Keane – ‘Keano’
The hot-headed Irishman was perhaps the next most important person of Manchester United’s dominance after Sir Alex Ferguson himself. His aggressive and competitive attitude made him both a great player and captain. There has been no one like him ever since.
Keane joined the Red Devils in 1993 for a British transfer record of €8.50m from Nottingham Forest. He left in 2006 as a seven-time Premier League champion, winning countless major honours and plaudits for bossing the United midfield.
“If I could pick one player in my team, I would always pick Roy Keane, in front of any other players I’ve played with,” said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“Keano had everything; he was a leader, a great player, and probably the best I ever played with.”
8. Steven Gerrard – ‘Stevie G’
Perhaps the unluckiest player to never take home a Premier League winners’ medal is Gerrard. He spent 17 years starring in the Liverpool midfield, impressing everyone with his strong displays. But most of his glory moments came outside the league.
On pure talent alone, however, Gerrard will always be up there among the greatest English players. He could score, tackle, lead and play with both feet. It made him the ultimate midfielder, leading to comparisons with some of the world’s best players.
“The highest compliment I can pay him is that he’s as creative as a Xavi at Barcelona, with something extra as well,” said Fernando Torres.
“When you add his energy, toughness, leadership and goalscoring ability and the result is a fantastic all-round player. He is, without doubt, the greatest player I have ever played with, he has everything.”
7. Paul Scholes – ‘Ginger Ninja’
Paul Scholes was a renown passer during his career, capable of reading the game like no one else. He could also move swiftly in the Manchester United midfield and score some long-range stunners. These attributes helped him become an 11-time Premier League winner.
Even the likes of Xavi Hernandez and Andrea Pirlo, widely considered the greatest midfielders of recent times, revered Scholes. Perhaps the ultimate compliment, though, was when Thierry Henry named him the best Premier League player of the last 15 years.
“He was one of the best, if not the best, that I played against,” said Henry.
“He could do everything. But unfortunately for him, when he was playing for the national team, people didn’t see it like that.”
“If I had a Paul Scholes in my team, everything would be around him.”
6. Wayne Rooney – ‘The White Pele’
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At 16 years old, Rooney became the then-youngest scorer in Premier League history by firing Everton to victory against Arsenal in October 2002. It ended the Gunners’ 30-match unbeaten run, making him a household name. A €37m transfer to Manchester United followed in 2004.
Rooney spent the next 13 years of his career at Old Trafford, winning five league titles and scoring a club-record 253 goals. He even sits third in the league’s all-time assist charts on 103.
“For me, the power of Wayne Rooney is his mentality and strength,” said Cristiano Ronaldo.
“He never stops, he always runs, helps the team. He’s a fantastic team player and he scores goals. He scored important goals, for me he’s fantastic.
“He was the kid of England. Everyone loved him. He is a fantastic boy, fantastic player.
“I used to call him, between me and my mates, the pit bull. I remember when he lost the ball he was so powerful, a strong guy, he shoots unbelievable.”
5. Frank Lampard – ‘Lamps’
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The Chelsea legend had no equal for scoring from midfield, ending up as the club’s all-time scorer on a stunning 210 goals in 648 games. He also chipped in 150 assists, including 102 in the Premier League.
Lampard had everything from intelligence to creativity in his career, easily making him one of the best Premier League players in history. In fact, he’s the league’s fifth-highest scorer and finished top of the assists charts three times.
“You talk about the Zolas and the best players to have played at the club, but for me he (Lampard) is the best,” said John Terry.
“You can only single out two players to play consistently well and to score goals over the course of the last 10-15 years and that is him and Ryan Giggs. It’s incredible to see the number of goals he’s scored at such a high level as well.”
4. Eric Cantona – ‘The King’
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The Frenchman changed English football like no other upon swapping Leeds for rivals Manchester United in 1992. His charisma and attitude influenced the entire squad, driving them to a first league title in 25 years. It was the dawn of a new glorious era at Old Trafford.
Cantona eventually achieved god-like status among the Red Devils faithful. He won the Premier League in all but one of his four and a half seasons and reached double figures three times.
“If ever there was one player, anywhere in the world, that was made for Manchester United, it was Cantona,” said Sir Alex Ferguson.
“He swaggered in, stuck his chest out, raised his head and surveyed everything as though he were asking: ‘I’m Cantona. How big are you? Are you big enough for me?'”
3. Alan Shearer – ‘Smokey’
The former England captain bagged a record 260 goals in 441 games during his career. Therefore, he will always be among the best Premier League players of all-time. Even though silverware was never a regular occurrence.
Shearer was a classic #9 during his career, with a superb heading ability and powerful right foot going well with his poacher’s instinct. It made him a handful for defenders everywhere. And while it’s been 14 years since his retirement, Alan’s legacies at Blackburn and Newcastle still burn brightly.
“Alan has been the best striker in the history of the Premier League,” said Alan Hansen.
“He’s strong, great in the air, boasts great technique and power in his shooting and, in his prime, he had real pace.”
2. Cristiano Ronaldo – ‘The Terminator’
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner made his name in England, winning three Premier League titles and scoring 118 goals for Manchester United. Who knows what have happened had he stayed at Old Trafford?
Ronaldo’s evolution into one of the greatest of all-time was fascinating to see for all English fans. Everyone already knew it was something special, with CR7’s talent and dedication setting him apart.
He had everything from pace, strength, intelligence, skill and a lethal finishing ability from all angles.
“Ronaldo can score with either of his feet, his head and now he is scoring with the goal at his back. I bet he can score on a wheelchair,” said Ryan Giggs.
1. Thierry Henry – ‘Titi’
Henry’s pace, style, ingenuity, resourcefulness and class made him one of the greatest of his generation. Nobody in England could rival him during his peak. The way he terrorised defences with his phenomenal and skill was truly outstanding.
The French striker inspired Arsenal to two Premier League titles, including the legendary unbeaten one in 2003/04. He even won a record four Golden Boot awards. Without a doubt, Henry was the cutting edge in the club’s offence and embraced all their best qualities.
“When he hit top gear and ran past you, it was like trying to chase after someone on a motorbike,” said Jamie Carragher.
“When Arsenal were ‘The Invincibles’ in the period between 2003-2004, Henry rivalled Ronaldinho as the best in the world.
“A great goal-scorer, not to mention a scorer of great goals, he is the finest player I have seen in the Premier League. His game didn’t have a weakness.”