The English Premier League celebrated its 30th anniversary this past weekend, and what a 30 years it has been. Thrilling football, drama-filled games, and storylines worthy of an award-winning soap opera. The Premier League has delivered plenty of unforgettable moments. And at the forefront of it all are the players. Yes, they may be overpaid, egotistical, and out of touch with reality. Still, thanks to the vast commercial money in England, we have witnessed some of the best homegrown and international talent entertain fans worldwide. Maverick forwards, devastating defenders, and titanic midfielders have lit up England. It is only fitting that in the week of the 30th anniversary, we recognize the best players in league history.
10 – Vincent Kompany – Manchester City
Appearances – 265. Goals – 18. Clean Sheets – 94. Four-Time Premier League Winner
When Vincent Kompany signed for Manchester City in 2008, nobody cared. Labeled a ‘bust’ in Germany, Kompany’s arrival did not dominate headlines. By the time Kompany left, he was arguably the greatest defender in Premier League history. A strong, quick, athletic player, Kompany’s aggression, tenacity, and leadership marked him as one of the top players. In Manchester City’s championship-winning campaign of 2011-2012, Kompany was Player of the Season. While injuries threatened to derail his career, the arrival of manager Pep Guardiola reinvigorated Kompany and took the Belgian’s game to new levels.
Kompany’s physical battles with the best forwards were a highlight of any Manchester City game, and he was always a man for the big occasion. A winning goal against cross-town rivals Manchester United shook Manchester to the foundations, while his thunderbolt against Leicester City proved to be the pivotal moment in the 2018-2019 season. A legend. A titan. And one of the toughest, bravest players to play in England.
▪️ 265 games
▪️ 18 goals
▪️ 94 clean sheets
▪️ 4x Premier League titles
His rocket against Leicester will forever be iconic 🚀
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 21, 2022
9 – Patrick Vieira – Arsenal
Appearances – 307. Goals – 31. Assists – 34. Three-Time Premier League Winner
The key cog in Arsene Wenger’s French Revolution, Patrick Vieira, dominated the midfield in the Premier League for eight seasons. Vieira arrived as a young player with talent but was very inexperienced. It was the first time Vieira’s career took him outside
mainland Europe. While some analysts thought Vieira was a ‘boy’ entering a ‘mans’ world, Vieira confounded them as he bossed and enforced his way to three Premier League championships. Vieira’s rugged style, abrasive attitude, and fearless leadership helped Arsenal do the impossible in 2003-2004 as the Gunners won the league with an undefeated 38-0 record. Player of the Season in 2001-2002, Vieira was the man in the Arsenal engine room. And the most significant part in Arsenal’s rise in the early 2000s.
Patrick Vieira & Thierry Henry after Arsenal won the league at Tottenham. pic.twitter.com/DIQsvNFQ0L
— Sky Sports Retro (@SkySportsRetro) August 5, 2022
8 – David Silva – Manchester City
Appearances – 309. Goals – 60. Assists – 93. Four-Time Premier League Winner
Pardon the pun, but David Silva was solid gold. The silky Spanish midfielder rewired English football fans’ minds on football as he glided his way to four Premier League championships and into the hearts of every football fan in the world. Silva is arguably the most technically gifted player to play in the league. Silva eschewed the idea that midfielders needed to be physical powerhouses that kicked and scrapped their way to victory. Silva’s slight frame was his only weakness as his genius football IQ and technique elevated him above the rest. Watching Silva was like watching a Philharmonic Orchestra interrupt a thrash metal concert. The ultimate playmaker, Silva pulled the strings in the Manchester City orchestra.
On this day in 2010 David Silva made his league debut for Man City away at Spurs.
Opposition manager Harry Redknapp said… 'He didn't look like a £24m pound player'
You're right H. About £240m should cover it. What a player.
We all make mistakes. pic.twitter.com/z870cFd0YL
— The Football Tavern (@TavernFootball) August 14, 2022
7 – Paul Scholes – Manchester United
Appearances – 499. Goals – 107. Assists – 55. 11 Time Premier League Winner
The ever-present player in Manchester United’s dynasty, Paul Scholes’ ability, longevity, and versatility made him one of the finest players in league history. An all-action box-to-box midfielder in his youth, Scholes evolved his game throughout his career. In the middle phase, the Lancastrian often played as an attacking midfielder, starting the play and scoring goals. By the end, Scholes became a ‘quarterback’ style player as his athleticism dwindled. He sat deep in the pocket and would fire passes into attacking areas in the field. Almost nobody possessed a passing range as good as Scholes. Scholes bagged a staggering 11 Premier League winners medals and formed one-fourth of perhaps the greatest midfield in English football history. Add his creativity and dictating of games to spectacular goals, and Scholes was possibly the finest English technician of his generation.
— UnitedReds (@UnitedRedscom) December 23, 2021
6 – Dennis Bergkamp – Arsenal
Appearances – 315. Goals – 87. Assists – 94. Three Premier League Winner
The Iceman in the Arsenal team, Dennis Bergkamp, was a magician who held defenders under a spell for a decade. Vision, intelligence, skill, and tenacity were the headline elements of Bergkamp’s game. While others ran around at 100 miles per hour, straining every sinew, Bergkamp played at 10 miles per hour in his bubble as he floated across the field. The Dutchman was the first overseas superstar to play at an elite level in England, and he showed everyone that football was indeed a beautiful game. Bergkamp was a chess grand-master, while others searched for the Hungry Hippo pieces. The ultimate puppet-master, Bergkamp tricked and deceived defenders on his way to three Premier League titles and was a part of Arsenal’s invincible side in 2003-2004.
Poetry in motion 🤩
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 11, 2022
5 – Steven Gerrard – Liverpool
Appearances – 504. Goals – 120. Assists – 92. Zero Time Premier League Winner
Undoubtedly, Steven Gerrard is the best player not to have won a Premier League title. The Liverpool legend spent nearly two decades playing for his hometown club, as he singlehandedly carried them every season. After breaking into the first team as a teenager, Gerrard captained his team magnificently, despite dealing with chaotic owners, managers coming and going, and seeing Liverpool’s rivals win league titles. Gerrard was the ultimate midfielder; tough-tackling, athletic, creative, energetic and could get a goal.
Gerrard was another midfielder that played different roles throughout his career; he started as a box-to-box midfielder renowned for his power, defensive prowess, and long-range shooting. He then transitioned into an attacking midfielder, playing just behind the striker before finishing his career as a deep-lying playmaker.
Moreover, Gerrard was the man for the big games. Home or away, it didn’t matter as Gerrard stamped his authority in games against Chelsea, Manchester United, and Everton. Scoring over 100 goals as a midfielder is no small feat, and while Liverpool’s decline coincided with Gerrard’s career, all was right when the lifelong Liverpool man led his team onto the field. Gerrard was a force of nature.
Goals! Goals! Goals!
Steven Gerrard vs Evertonpic.twitter.com/qAnvjPzzxo
— My Greatest 11 (@MyGreatest11) January 22, 2022
4 – Roy Keane – Manchester United
Appearances – 366. Goals – 39. Assists – 33. Seven-Time Premier League Winner
Relentless. Ruthless. Rampaging. Roy Keane was the belligerent, defiant leader of men who helped power Manchester United to seven Premier League titles. Keane was the enforce, the tone-setter in midfield for United. His relentless energy, destructive tackling, fearless leadership, and motivational skills made him stand out. Keane never took a backward step, and his teammates ran through brick walls for him. David Beckham labeled Keane as the best player he played alongside, while United fans branded Keane as the heartbeat of their team. Yes, Keane would get into altercations, fights, and rows, but the snarling Irishman was the perfect leader and defensive midfielder. His rivalry with Patrick Vieira was the stuff of legend, as the two combative midfielders battled for league supremacy. Keane might be the greatest captain in league history.
👊 Happy birthday to everyone's favourite pundit, Roy Keane! 🇮🇪
🏆 Premier League (x7), FA Cup (x4), Champions League, Scottish Premier League, Scottish League Cup
He wasn't a bad midfielder, either 🪨 pic.twitter.com/HGVpfVzUFY
— TEAMtalk (@TEAMtalk) August 10, 2022
3 – Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United
Appearances – 228. Goals – 102. Assists – 37. Three-Time Premier League Winner
Cristiano Ronaldo is a Premier League phenomenon: twice a Golden Boot winner, once a Player of the Season recipient, and three-time Premier League champion. Bought to replace David Beckham in 2003, Ronaldo exceeded expectations as he became Manchester United’s talisman as Sir Alex Ferguson’s team won three consecutive championships between 2007 and 2009. Ronaldo scored 17 goals in 2006-2007 before scoring an astonishing 31 goals in 34 games as United retained their title the following season. The Portuguese played an essential part the next year as his team made it a three-peat before he left for Real Madrid. Ronaldo’s spell in England was brief, especially compared to others, but his impact was that of a hurricane. He blew through the league with various skills, showboating, arrogance, and a torrent of goals. It was high-octane, thrilling football from Ronaldo.
On this day in 2008, Cristiano Ronaldo scored this free-kick vs. Portsmouth.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 30, 2022
2 – Alan Shearer, Blackburn Rovers & Newcastle United
Appearances – 441. Goals – 260. Assists – 64. One-Time Premier League Winner
Alan Shearer was born to score goals. He is the greatest goalscorer in league history, and no player has come close to beating his record of 260 goals. Shearer was a machine when he led the line for Blackburn Rovers in the mid-90s. From 1994 to 1996, Shearer broke the 30-goal barrier in three straight seasons. He also helped little old Blackburn slay Manchester United and win the league in 1994-1995. Shearer was strong on his left and right foot and brilliant in the air. A natural goal-poacher, Shearer could score any type of goal. He had a sixth sense for where the net was. After winning the league with Blackburn, Shearer came home as Newcastle United paid a world-record $15 million fee to sign the Newcastle-born striker. While the trophies didn’t follow Shearer, the local hero rewrote the clubs’ record books and got himself a statue outside the stadium. A relentless machine, Shearer would start in an all-time Premier League 11.
=1. Alan SHEARER
Striker – 13.08.70 – ENG (63/30)
15/08/92 (Crystal Palace vs. BLACKBURN ROVERS, D 3-3)
Blackburn Rovers (92-96), Newcastle United (96-06)
Prem Apps: 441
Prem Goals: 260
— Premier League Players (@premlgeplayers) August 15, 2022
1 – Thierry Henry – Arsenal
Appearances – 258. Goals – 175. Assists – 74. Two-Time Premier League Winner
Thierry Henry is the best player in Premier League history. While others scored more goals or won more championships, Henry’s peak was higher than any other player. Henry’s effortless speed, dribbling, creativity, finishing, and swagger were a joy to watch. His French flair and arrogance made every Arsenal game must-watch. Henry did not just score goals. He scored exceptional goals, made goalkeepers look foolish, and made fans question the laws of physics. At his best, Henry could single-handedly win games. The French World Cup winner scored more than 20 goals for five straight seasons. Two of those seasons saw Arsenal win the Premier League, while Henry won the Golden Boot four times and was Player of the Season twice. Henry was one of the first players inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Thierry Henry is the best player in the history of the Premier League. Factos. 🐐🏴
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) August 12, 2022