The Greatest Premier League XI
The Premier League turned 25 on 15th August 2017. Ever since its inception in 1992, every modernised English top flight season has been graced by numerous world class players. So, to honour the Premier League's 25th anniversary, here is an all-time XI who definitely knew what they were about.
Between the sticks, we have the Great Dane. Both he and son Kasper have backstopped their clubs to Premiere League titles. A leader at the back, Peter was a commanding goalkeeper, incredibly agile, with great distribution and vision. Sir Alex Ferguson labeled him "the bargain of the century." Schmeichel won five Premier League titles with Manchester United. He can also claim 129 clean sheets in 301 Premier League appearances.
The Dane wasn't bad at the other end, either.
At right back, we have the ever present for Manchester United. The One Club Man. Gary Neville came to Carrington as a boy and left Old Trafford a legend. He made 400 PL appearances, winning eight league titles. Every time he played, he poured his heart and soul into the match.
Sometimes referred to as the Red Dog, G-Nev was notorious for his physical style. Yet, when his playing days were done, he earned a reputation as a thoughtful broadcast analyst.
Second cousin to another English football legend, Les Ferdinand, Rio came to Old Trafford from Leeds in a then record transfer. Although there were bumps along the road, a missed drug test the most notorious, Ferdinand ranks among England's best-ever defenders. he possessed all the required qualities: leadership, distribution, composure, speed, timely tackling, and aerial ability. In all, he made 514 Premier League appearances, collecting six Premier League winners medals.
After his playing days, his class has been borne out by the manner in which he has raised his children in the wake of his wife's untimely passing.
The Premier League's highest goalscoring defender, JT is the centre half you'd want on your team. Terry was physical and aggressive, yet always well positioned and intuitive. His leadership and play were so strong, he survived two of the league's biggest scandals: an alleged affair with best friend and teammate Wayne Bridge's partner, and an in-match altercation with Rio Ferdinand's brother in which he uttered a racial epithet.
Nonetheless, Terry remained Chelsea's most successful captain, helping them to five league titles. After 492 PL appearances, his thirst hasn't been quenched. Now, he seeks to be a force with Aston Villa in the Championship.
Ashley Cole was simply the best left back the Premier League ever witnessed. Period. An Invincible with Arsenal, then a league winner with Chelsea, Cole made 385 Premier League appearances. A fine modern full back, gifted with pace, consistency, and vision, Cole could defend as well as attack. He wasn't afraid to step in front of an opponent's shot.
After Chelsea, Cole spent a season with AS Roma before heading stateside to feature with current side, LA Galaxy, in Major League Soccer.
RM: Cristiano Ronaldo
The golden boy himself. Cristiano Ronaldo is simply the best footballer to play in the Premier League. His statement season came in 2007-08, when he notched 42 goals across all competitions for United. The next season, he won his first Ballon d'Or before joining Real Madrid.
In 196 appearances, the two-time Premier League Player of the Year scored 84 and assisted on another 34 goals. He may be best known for his underwear ads, but his pace, free kicks, dribbles, and aerial ability catch the eye, as well.
Arguably the best midfielder of the Premier League era, just ask Xavi Hernandez. Including Paul Scholes in this list was a no-brainer. The Ginger Prince' came through United's academy with Fergie's Fledglings, then played for the Red Devils throughout his career.
In the end, he came up a bit short. Scholes made 499 league apps, winning the Premier League 11 times. Five hundred and an even dozen would have prettier numbers. Regardless, the man could pick a pass, be it five or 50 yards. Wonderful on the ball, his intelligence and high work rate were augmented by a knack for goals and zeal for tackles.
No team is complete without a powerhouse. Patrick Vieira played alongside Ashley Cole in Arsenal's Invincibles. His height, physical strength, and great technical ability long kept him in Arsene Wenger's plans. Essentially, he was Yaya Toure without the craving for birthday cake. A complete defensive midfielder, the Frenchman made 307 Premier League apps and won it all three times.
After a stint with Juventus, he finished his playing career with Manchester City, then moved into the executive office. Now, Vieira manages City's MLS side, NYCFC.
Giggsy is the most enduring player in Premier League history. The Welshman has the most appearances (632), most assists (162) and 114 goals in the league. He's hoisted the championship trophy a record 13 times.
He began as an out and out left winger sporting great pace, cutting and crossing abilities, not to mention a nose for goal. As his speed faded, he adapted away from the dynamic and fast winger, transforming himself to a calm, visionary central midfielder. His longevity was made legendary by the famous supporters' banner, "Ryan Giggs: Tearing you apart since 1991!"
His playing career winding down, he managed United's final four games in 2013-14, after David Moyes was sacked. Giggs spent the following two seasons as Louis van Gaal's assistant, finally leaving the club when the dangled promise of the top job went unfulfilled.
Henry could produce magic on any given day. Titi was the definition of a modern striker: agile, controlled, clinical, calm, intelligent, creative and well-timed with his runs. On his day, he was unplayable. He contributed twice to Premier League titles at Arsenal. From a technical perspective, the elegant Frenchman is arguably the best forward the Premier League has seen.
His career took him to Barcelona, then NY Red Bull. Now, he speaks his mind for Sky Sports and serves as an assistant on Roberto Martinez's Belgian national team coaching staff.
The greatest goalscorer in the Premier League, Alan Shearer recorded 260 league goals and a record 11 hat tricks.
He was the perfect striker. He could score from outside the box, poach, head, volley, bend a free kick, and take penalties. He just knew how to put the ball in the back of the net. As well, he could hold the ball with the best, then lay off for teammates arriving in support.
His only title came in 1994-95, with Blackburn. The greater part of the Geordie's career was spent in the North East with boyhood side, Newcastle. He is the only player in this all-time Premier League XI never to have played for Arsenal, Man United, or Chelsea.
Shearer is carving out an equally long career as part of the BBC's Match of the Day team. As with his first four years in Southampton, things didn't begin well, but he's found his footing.
Who else were you expecting? Sir Alex was the architect for United's thirteen Premier League titles and two most recent European championships, not to mention Howard Webb's best friend and Phil Dowd's worst nightmare. He was able to deliver titles immediately after selling Jaap Stam and David Beckham, although it took two seasons after Cristiano Ronaldo departed. Fergie tops virtually every list of all-time great managers. Other than signing Bebe sight unseen, his only shortcoming proved to be selecting David Moyes as his successor.
But what about...
There are major players overlooked on this list but, let's face it, there have been so many greats it is almost impossible to pick out just 11 players. With that in mind, here are a few other immortals who could have forced their way into the match day squad: