On Monday I asked everyone who they thought was the Premiership’s greatest player ever.
There were plenty of varied responses, but the votes centered around a handful of players (I’ve listed them below). Some very interesting observations were made as well – one of the key ones being that any such list is ‘striker-heavy’ because we tend to under-rate defensive players.
I’ve discussed the top candidates below, before presenting my pick at the end of the article.
- Ryan Giggs: Most popular pick of the lot, with the nominations skewed perhaps by the man-utd heavy readership of SL. The most decorated player in the Premiership and one who had a hand in winning all 9 Premiership titles.
- Thierry Henry: They may not love him as much at the Emirates as they did last summer but Henry’s awesome form in the last 5-6 years in the Premiership has been nothing short of world-class. Directly responsible for two of Arsenal’s 3 titles in the Premiership.
- Peter Schmeichel: The great Dane has been a popular choice in the thread listed above – and is one of two defensive players to be listed here.
- Roy Keane: In terms of psychological impact its hard to look beyond Keano.
- Alan Shearer: In terms of positive impact towards his team’s fortunes Shearer is up there with the best.
- Gianfranco Zola: A Chelsea legend and…well, definitely a great player but how does he rack up against Keano and Giggs?
- Mathew Le Tissier: For his loyalty to Southampton and his spectacular goals.
- Dennis Bergkamp: For his impact on the Arsenal revolution and his sheer class.
- Patrick Vieira: The only genuine rival Roy Keane had in terms of best central midfielder
- Tony Adams: Along with Bruce, Pallister and Campbell, one of the few defenders mentioned.
- Steven Gerrard / Frank Lampard: The duo were inevitably mentioned and they definitely deserve a shout but I think their contributions can be better judged in a couple of years’ of time.
So who’s it going to be?
The criteria I set was this:
The greatest Premiership player ever would be that player who had the most positive impact on his team’s fortunes over an extended period of time, in the Premiership.
It’s almost impossible to choose from the list above – even if you whittled it down based on longevity and consistency, you’d still be left with the likes of Giggs, Keane, Bergkamp, Henry, Le Tissier, Shearer, and Vieira (and even then it feels criminal to ignore Adams and Zola, not to mention Neville, Schmeichel or Scholes).
The Premiership’s greatest player
It’s a tough choice – you have so many great players who have played around a decade in the Premiership and are legends in their own rights.
I picked Keane because of two reasons.
One, in hindsight it is difficult to see if Manchester United would have dominated the Premiership the way they did without Roy Keane. Giggsy won all 9, but as a United fan I can’t seem to imagine a 90’s or even a 00’s United team without Keano.
Two, Keano was the name I had in mind when I started the debate on Monday – and in a decision where there’s no right choice, I went with my gut instincts.
It’s impossible to pick the greatest player out of a list that includes Bergkamp, Henry, Shearer, Vieira, Giggs, Scholes, Keane and Schmeichel. All are top players and arguably one of best in their positions.
But if we’re talking about the Premiership, with all its warts and flaws and brilliance, there’s no other player who is more suited to be the face of the Premiership than Roy Keane. Other players might be more skilled, some may have gotten more goals, but Keano ruled the roost from the moment he stepped on the pitch till the second he walked off it.
Few players get the respect Zola, Shearer, Bergkamp and Keano got from their fans.
So let me know what you guys think, but mind you, there’s no right answer here.