Top 10 Foreign Players In The History Of The Premier League

Since the Premier League began back in 1992 almost 100 different nationalities have been represented on the field of play. From St Kitts and Nevis to Iran and from the Ivory Coast to Albania, a whole host of foreign (for the purposes of this article we mean any non-UK and non-Irish) footballers have called the Premier League home. Here we try to narrow those down to just 10 of the very, very best; so in no particular order we give you…

Eric Cantona (France) – Cantona helped deliver Leeds the last ever First Division title before moving to Man United for a bargain £1.2m. Over five years he won four Premier Leagues with the Red Devils, including their first in 26 years. Oh, and he dived feet-first into the crowd once.

Denis Bergkamp (Netherlands) – Staying with hugely creative attacking players we have Arsenal’s “Iceman” Denis Bergkamp. Sublimely gifted, his vision and passing were breathtaking and he twice finished third in the World Player of the Year awards.

Gianfranco Zola (Italy) – Another import who could open up a defence with a moment of magic, be it a jinking run or an inch-perfect pass, Zola was voted Chelsea’s greatest ever player in 2003 and won the Football Writers’ Player of the Year award in the 1996-97 season.

Paulo Di Canio (Italy) – We will move away from second strikers at some stage… just not yet. Di Canio has made a lot of headlines for reasons good and bad but people will never forget goals like his mid-air volley against Wimbledon, nor should they forget his great sportsmanship when catching the ball to stop play when Everton’s goalkeeper was injured. Should they forget his dalliances with fascism… we’ll leave that for you to decide.

Patrick Viera (France) – The four players above are all about skill and creativity and whilst Viera was no slouch in those areas his strength was, well, his strength. A powerful box-to-box midfielder, his battles with Roy Keane were immense and as well as tackling and reading the game he also scored 29 goals for Arsenal.

Thierry Henry (France) – Sorry, we were missing the strikers. Arguably the finest in Premier League history, Henry had extreme pace, unlike the first four names on our list, and he was also more of a natural finisher. Arsenal’s record goalscorer netted all types of goals and if this list was in order he would be very close to the top. His record of 175 goals in just 258 games will be tough to match to say the least.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – He didn’t grace English football for long but his raw pace, unstoppable swerving strikes and mesmerising skills make him a must for this list. In his latter seasons with Man United he added goals – and lots of them! – and he certainly earned his status as an all-time great.

Peter Schmeichel (Denmark) – Arguably Fergie’s greatest bargain, Schmeichel was the best goalkeeper in the world for many years and was almost unbeatable at times. He also scared the hell out of opposing attackers and his own defenders.

Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) – Wore the same Chelsea Blue as Zola but was a totally different player. When he was in the mood he was an unstoppable battering ram with a fine touch and a venomous shot and his record in cup finals is just sensational. Luckily for Chelsea, he was in the mood fairly regularly.

Claude Makelele (France) – Makelele’s influence can be measured by the fact that a new position was created in his name. The “Makelele role” in front of the back four was brought to prominence by the brilliance the Frenchman in protecting his defence: much copied, never bettered.

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