Ten Cult Figures of the Premier League era

With the news that the Premier League are introducing a hall of fame for their most prestigious players we thought it would be a good idea to look at the league’s lesser heroes of the game and how their impact at the club grabbed the attention of opposing fans.

Juninho- Middlesbrough

The Brazilian was a joy to watch at Middlesbrough and it was something of a shock when he arrived on Teeside for £4.5 million from Sao Paulo. The silky skills from the Brazilian made him a revered figure and one that brought joy to the English game.

Many said he would struggle in a more physical league but that was not the case as he was able to weave and dodge past the burly centre backs. He ended up having three spells at Middlesbrough and won Player of the Year in 1996/97.

Morten Gamst Pedersen- Blackburn Rovers

The left footed Norwegian was a constant menace for Blackburn Rovers and caused many an opposition to double up on him. He was part of the team that made Ewood Park a real battlefield. With his swept over blonde hair he really stood out on the pitch and his wand of a left foot helped him to 34 goals and 39 assists.

His set pieces attracted much higher teams than Blackburn but he decided the best place for him was the Lancashire club and he became a real fan favourite. 

Matty Taylor- Portsmouth, Bolton Wanderers, West Ham United & Burnley

Another player with an unreal left foot, however, this one was more like a traction engine! Taylor could hit a ball like no other person and if the ball bobbled up for him to put his foot though it, he would not hesitate.

He was an unknown entity at Portsmouth but he quickly became known for his thunderous shots and wicked crosses. This led to him scoring 40 league goals and winning the goal of the month for his goal against Sunderland in October 2005.

Jay Jay Okocha- Bolton Wanderers

What can be said about Okocha that has not been said before? He dazzled Premier League fans for four years with his impetuous nature and impromptu pieces of skill. Bolton Wanderers knew they had a real talent after signing him on a free from PSG and they adopted him as a true Boltonian.

He produced many moments of magic including a vital goal against West Ham United that was subsequently voted the best Bolton goal in the Premier League. However, he will always be remembered in the Premier League for his outrageous rainbow flick of a despairing Ray Parlour.

Jay Jay Okocha…so good they named him twice.

Noberto Solano- Newcastle United, Aston Villa & West Ham United

Nobby Solano, the trumpet playing Peruvian. He is the first Peruvian to play in the Premier League and appear in an F.A Cup final. He signed for the Magpies in 1998 and he was an instant hit. He came with high expectations and intrigue as he was joining from Boca Juniors, so much so his first reserve team match was delayed because of unexpected crowd levels.

Much remembered for his time with Newcastle, he was able to play on either wing to great effect as he jinxed past defenders with ease. However, he drew great anticipation from the fans when he lined up for a free kick as the Peruvian was one of the best in the business from a dead ball situation.

During his time at Aston Villa he would perform with Dion Dublin, who played his own instrument The Dube, and keep players entertained all the time. It is hard not to like Nobby Solano.

Steed Malbranque- Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur & Sunderland

The hardworking Frenchman enjoyed a solid career in the Premier League and accumulated 336 games with three different clubs. He occupied the left hand side for most of his time with Fulham and Tottenham but he was able to play more centrally with Sunderland. This versatility was well appreciated by fans who saw that Malbranque was capable of providing for the team no matter where he played.

His best moment in the Premier League came at Old Trafford when he scored and assisted two goals to record a famous victory over the Red Devils

Peter Crouch- Aston Villa, Southampton, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Tottenham Hostpur, Stoke City & Burnley

The giant centre forward came with the added cliché, “Great touch for a big man”. Crouch was arguably better with his feet than he was in the air despite his tall stature. He was an honest hard working striker who had the ability to pull of the spectacular for example his outrageous volley to beat Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Crouch is a popular figure amongst his former teams but also in the Premier League. His awkward frame made him stand out and he proved what an effective goal scorer he was as he scored 108 goals in the Premier League; making him a member of the 100 goals club.

Jimmy Bullard- Wigan Athletic, Fulham & Hull City

The cheeky chappy who just looked like he loved playing football. He might be remembered for his leap frogging incident with Duncan Ferguson or he might be remembered for his goal celebration vs Manchester City where he imitated manager Phil Brown.

However, many forget that he was actually called up to the England team. Bullard was a hard working midfielder who had fantastic range of passing. If it was not for injuries he might have enjoyed a longer career in the top flight but he will always be loved by many.

Paulo Di Canio- Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham United & Charlton Athletic

A divisive figure in Premier League history but certainly one you remembered. During his playing days you loved him if he played for you but hated him if was on the opposition side. He had a grace of arrogance that would wind up opposition fans but he would get away it because he was so talented. However, as fans look back at Di Canio’s time in the Premier League they can see the brilliance.

He will mostly go down for his time at West Ham; despite pushing referee Paul Alcock and getting an 11 match ban. Under Harry Redknapp, Di Canio was unplayable for West Ham and would delight the fans with his audacious skills. In 2000, Di Canio scored what is considered on the best goals in Premier League history against Wimbledon. It was classed as the perfect goal as he scissor kicked it into the opposite corner with a first time volley.

Brad Friedel- Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa & Tottenham Hotspur

The shot stopper was Mr. Dependable and if he was in net opposition fans knew they were in for a tough day. He accumulated 450 appearances in the Premier League and kept 132 clean sheets in the process. The straight talking American was always a thorn in the side of the opposition as they tried to break his side down.

Friedel is one of just five goalkeepers to score a goal in the Premier League as he grabbed a late equaliser against Charlton Athletic by going up for a corner in the dying embers of the game. He left the English game with a League Cup trophy to his name with Blackburn.

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Phil Taylor
Phil is orignally from Blackpool but is currently in Manchester. He works on all areas of football from the Premier League and any other league in England. He is enthusiastic about sport and loves writing about it

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