Every month since the beginning of the 1994/95 season, Premier League players, experts and fans have been voting for the league’s best player from the month’s action of football.
Usually, the award goes to one of the titans of the league. Sergio Aguero has claimed the prize a record seven times, while Bruno Fernandes and Ilkay Gundogan have almost formed a monopoly on the award in recent times.
However, March 2021 saw an underdog win the prize, with Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho scooping the award.
Here is a look back at some of the other underdogs who win the Premier League Player of the Month award.
Remember that Austrian goalkeeper who was Arsenal’s back-up for a few years, Juventus’ back-up for a few years, Augsburg’s back-up for a few years, and Liverpool’s third choice behind Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius for a season? Yep, he has a POTM award.
In March 1998, Alex Manninger kept three clean sheets from a possible three, shutting out West Ham United, Wimbledon and Manchester United. The latter proved to be crucial, as the Gunners won the league over the Red Devils by just one point that season.
Probably best known for his antics on I’m a Celebrity and Soccer AM, Jimmy Bullard was actually a half-decent footballer once. And he was rewarded for his performances in November 2009.
In his three Premier League appearances, the midfielder found the net on three occasions, scoring twice against West Ham in a 3-3 draw and netting the equaliser away at Manchester City. What will be best remembered, however, was the iconic celebration that followed.
Quick show of hands. How many of you knew that Peter Odemwingie had won the Premier League Player of the Month award? Keep your hand up if you knew he’d won it twice. Now, being completely honest, keep your hand up if you knew he’d won it three times.
No, I am not making this up. Peter Odemwingie has won POTM on three occasions. For context, only 13 players in history have scooped the prize more often. It still wasn’t enough to get that move to Queens Park Rangers, mind.
The first came in September 2010, when he got two goals and one assist as West Bromwich Albion picked up seven points from their games against Tottenham Hotspur, Birmingham City and Arsenal.
Later that season, he won the prize for the second time after scoring in four successive games against Sunderland, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa.
His third and final POTM award came in February 2012. The Nigerian netted five goals in four games, including a hat-trick in the 5-1 demolition of bitter rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Johan Elmander’s goal record at Bolton Wanderers wasn’t exactly the most impressive, netting just 22 in 108 outings in all competitions. However, there was a brief spell of form where everything he touched turned to gold.
He began the month of November 2010 with an assist in a 4-2 win over Tottenham, and things only got better from there.
A week on from the Spurs victory, Elmander helped the Trotters to another three points away at Wolves, scoring one of the Premier League’s finest ever goals.
The Swede produced some incredible footwork in a tight space and coolly rolled the ball into the far corner. The strike was voted as the greatest ever Premier League goal in a poll by the Guardian.
The following weekend, he was the star again, bagging a brace as Bolton defeated Newcastle United 5-1.
Arriving from Rangers in January, Nikica Jelavic made an explosive start to life at Everton, scoring nine goals in his first 13 league games. Unfortunately, this did not continue beyond the first six months, and he netted only seven in his next 46 outings.
In April 2012, he was named as the top flight’s POTM. The Croatian scored six goals, including a brace against Man Utd, which proved decisive at the end of the season. The game finished 4-4, and the dropped points put the title race back into Man City’s hands.
Clearly, the beginning of the 2012/13 season was a bit miserable, as Scotland international Steven Fletcher was the first player of the season to receive the POTM award.
The Sunderland forward bagged five goals in four appearances, scoring against Swansea City, Liverpool, West Ham and Wigan Athletic. In fact, over 20% of Fletcher’s goals for the Black Cats came in September 2012, having spent four seasons at the Stadium of Light.
Adam le Fondre
Thierry Henry. Sergio Aguero. Harry Kane. These are the only three players in Premier League history who have a better minutes-per-goal ratio than Adam le Fondre.
The Englishman made just 11 starts and 23 substitute appearances for Reading in the 2012/13 season, scoring 12 goals. Given this strike rate, one has to wonder why he wasn’t given more opportunities, especially considering the Royals were relegated that season.
In January 2013, Le Fondre found the net on five separate occasions, including two in the last five minutes to snatch a draw at home to Chelsea.
Adam Johnson’s career at Man City didn’t go as planned, and he struggled to nail down a regular starting place. He was later sold to Sunderland, where he got more game time.
January 2014 was when his career at the Black Cats really peaked. The England international scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 win against Fulham and scored in the following two games against Southampton and Stoke City.
Whatever happened to him?
You know, maybe Sunderland aren’t as hopeless as we all thought. After all, they have four different POTM winners.
The latest of those was Connor Wickham, who was given the award for his performances in April 2014. He scored three goals against title-chasers Man City and Chelsea and added two more to his tally against Cardiff City.
West Ham must have thought they’d signed the Senegalese Pele during Diafra Sakho’s early days at Upton Park. The forward exploded into life in the Premier League, scoring in his first six starts. As a result, he won the POTM award in October 2014.
However, he never came close to replicating this form during the rest of his time at the Hammers. The following three seasons, he netted just eight goals in 39 appearances.