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Who is the Greatest Ever Premier League Player?

A Look at Three of the Best Ever EPL Players

By Lewis HumphriesPublished 10 months ago 3 min read
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The EPL Hall of Fame now has 23 inductees

The recently formed Premier League now has some 23 inductees, including a selection of the finest players (and managers) to represent the English top-flight over the course of the last 31 years.

Of course, the majority of the EPL’s most celebrated and romanticised players are forwards, who tend to dominate the headlines and produce the stardust that lights up individual matches and determine the course of Premier League seasons.

While it’s relatively easy to list 20 or 30 of the Premier League’s greatest ever players, attempting to narrow this selection to two or three is much more contentious. However, below you’ll find my take on the three best EPL players of all time, and it should come as no surprise that each one operated in and around the front line!

#3. Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United)

Shearer in the Premier League's top scorer

At number three is the Premier League’s leading goalscorer, and while Spurs forward Harry Kane remains just 47 goals behind Alan Shearer’s record, the former Blackburn and Newcastle striker was a genuine force of nature throughout his EPL career.

While it was Blackburn who saw Shearer in his physical prime (he struck 112 Premier League goals in just 138 games for Rovers), the Geordie hitman’s career spanned 14 years between 1992 and 2006. During this time, he struck 260 EPL goals in 441 matches, even as his strike rate dwindled with age and when playing for boyhood club Newcastle.

Quick and powerful in his pomp, Shearer scored 30+ Premier League goals in three successive seasons between 1993 and 1996. This haul included all types of goals too, from predatory tap-ins and powerful headers to scorching strikes from distance.

Shearer was also a born leader and ultimate team player, who would use his strength and touch to link play effectively. As a result, he also laid on 65 assists for his teammates, while enjoying a particularly prolific on-field understanding with the underrated Nolberto Solano at St. James Park.

#2. Wayne Rooney (Everton and Manchester United)

Rooney was a true force of nature during his playing career

If you were building a brand-new football team, you’d probably want to fill it with 11 Wayne Rooney’s if you could. After all, the Scouse-born forward offered a truly unique meld of skill, creatively and aggression, while his willingness to sacrifice himself and personal accolades for the cause arguably counted against him during his career.

Of course, Rooney announced himself as a precocious and unusually powerful 16-year-old at Everton, when he struck a superb 30-yard winner against a brilliant Arsenal side in 2002. He earned a move to Manchester United two years later after a seminal breakthrough for England in the 2004 European Championships, and it was here where he would break new ground and enjoy the bulk of his trophy laden career.

He is undeniably the most gifted British forward of his generation, combining power and superb close control with an incredible range of passing and truly explosive shot. Overall, he scored 208 Premier League goals in 491 matches (putting him second behind Shearer for the time being) while also contributing an impressive 114 assists for his teammates.

Ultimately, Rooney was a mercurial and often selfless player, while he remains Manchester United’s record ever goalscorer and retains the second-highest tally of goals for England.

#1. Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

Henry is often reverred as the best ever Premier League player

Be honest, did you expect to see anyone else at number one at this list? If so, we cannot imagine why, as French forward Thierry Henry was a truly sensational player who did absolutely everything with elegance and pure class.

Despite starting centrally for much of his career and drifting out to the left flank, Henry plundered a superb 175 EPL goals in just 258 games during two spells with the Gunners, at an impressive rate of 0.67 per game. He also provided 80 assists, meaning that he made a little under one goal contribution per game on average during his EPL career.

Henry also contributed 20+ EPL goals for five consecutive seasons with the Gunners, picking up four Golden Boots in the process. In 2002/03 campaign, Henry also registered a record 20 assists in the English top-flight, although this achievement has since been matched by Kevin De Bruyne in 2019/20.

Blessed with outstanding touch and blistering pace, Henry was also an accomplished dribbler and finisher. Interestingly, former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher recently admitted that the Frenchman “affected him mentally on a pitch”, as he would look to simply avoid embarrassment rather than focus on challenging Henry head-on.

Simply a one-off in football parlance, Henry is almost a universal pick as the Premier League’s best player and has deservedly earned first place on my list!

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