Today is the first day of the Who Ate All the Pies 100 Greatest Premiership Players mega-list. Just who are the best 100 footballers ever to grace English football’s top flight? Well, you’re about to find out â€“ over the next two weeks we’ll be featuring ten players per day, counting down in reverse order, from No. 100 â€“ No.1. So, enough preamble, let’s crack on, starting with Nos. 100-91â€¦
100 Greatest Premiership Players, 100-91 continuedâ€¦
100 NICKY BUTT
(Man Utd 1992-04, Newcastle Utd 2004-)
Pele thought Butt was the best player at the 2002 World Cup â€“ we all laughed at the mad old Brazilian, but then it’s easy to underestimate this most English of players. Butt’s career at Old Trafford was certainly overshadowed by the presence of a certain R. Keane, but you shouldn’t overlook his contribution to six Prem titles, four FA Cups and the 1999 Champions League. A superior journeyman, and admirably modest with it.
99 ROBERTO DI MATTEO
This stylish Italian midfielder is famous for scoring the fastest ever goal in an FA Cup final, after 42 seconds for Chelsea against Middlesbrough in 1997 (see clip below). He also bagged the only goal in Chelsea’s 2000 FA Cup final victory against Aston Villa, in the last final to be played at the old Wembley Stadium. He obviously had a fine sense of occasion. Di Matteo was a great passer of the ball and settled in England much faster than most foreign stars. A triple leg fracture ended his career prematurely, but he will rightly be remembered as one of Chelsea’s best foreign imports.
98 EMILE HESKEY
(Leicester City 1995-2000, Liverpool 2000-04, Birmingham City 2004-06, Wigan Athletic 2006-)
Don’t laugh, we’re serious. If Heskey had been blessed with more self-belief and natural aggression, he would be much higher up this list. Us fans often slag him off for falling over a lot, but you can’t argue with his superb natural footballing ability, which was glimpsed most often during his time at Leicester City, where he won two League Cups. One decade on, he’s still performing at the highest level, for Wigan Athletic.
97 DES WALKER
(Sheffield Wednesday 1993-2001)
‘You’ll never beat Des Walker!’ Nottingham Forest fans used to proudly chant. Then he went to Italy’s Serie A, where it was discovered that, actually, you could beat Des Walker quite a lot, particularly if he was played out of position at full-back, as he sometimes was for Sampdoria (by none other than Sven-Goran Eriksson). Des then returned to England and played out the second half of his career at Hillsborough. He only scrapes into the Top 100 because much of his best football was played