Titus Bramble and Jean-Alain Boumsong, if you’re reading this, we can put you out of your misery now â€“ you’ve not made the cut. Sorry :(
NOTE Thanks to a clerical error, this was initially labelled as 80-71, when it was actually meant to be Nos 70-61 â€“ it’s now been amended as such. Sorry for any confusion. We’re back on course nowâ€¦
100 Greatest Premiership Players, 70-61 continuedâ€¦
70 GARY KELLY
(Leeds United 1992-)
Every team needs a flashy winger and a star striker â€“ but where would those golden boys be without solid, reliable full-backs like Gary Kelly? Kelly is the Premiership’s original one-man club. Hell, he even stayed with them when they were relegated (although that may be because no-one else wanted him by then). He’s racked up more than 500 appearances for Leeds and he’s still going strong. A true pro, a decent bloke and, let’s not forget, a very good right-back.
69 MARCEL DESAILLY
The man they called ‘The Rock’ may have spent his best years at AC Milan, but he still made a big impact in west London. As a centre-back he didn’t have any weaknesses, except perhaps a tendency to lose interest in games against smaller clubs. Desailly is certainly one of the greatest defenders of the last 20 years â€“ he was a pretty handy midfielder too â€“ and Chelsea fans can consider themselves privileged to have seen him captain their club.
68 MARTIN KEOWN
(Everton 1992-93, Arsenal 1993-2004)
Ah, the combative Mr Keown. He was an ugly player in every sense of the word, but by God he was effective. He won’t go down in Gunners folklore with quite the same reputation as Arsenal’s famous gang of four (Dixon, Winterburn, Adams, Bould), but he’s not far behind. For Premiership strikers, Keown was one of the last central defenders you’d want to play against. He was always in their face â€“ especially the big horse-face of Ruud van Nistelrooy.
67 STAN COLLYMORE
(Nottm Forest 1993-95, Liverpool 1995-1997, Aston Villa 1997-2000)
When he burst on the scene at Forest, Collymore was hailed as the saviour of English football. Here was our very own Ronaldo, or so we thought â€“ a devastatingly fast, skillful centre-forward who could bang ‘em in from 25 yards. In terms of pure potential, we’d not seen a more exciting young English striker since Alan Shearer; and Collymore looked even better than Shearer. But we know how Stan’s story went. Football didn’t know how to deal with a player with a mental illness (he didn’t help himself, it has to be said), and he was left out in the cold. What a wasteâ€¦
66 NIGEL MARTYN
(Crystal Palace 1992-96, Leeds Utd 1996-2003, Everton 2003-06)
We love Nigel Martyn, partly because he’s a great keeper (and the first ever Â£1m keeper) but also because he’s genuinely one of the nicest footballers you could ever wish to meet. It’s a shame he spent most of his England career playing second fiddle to Safe Hands Seaman, as he was arguably the more reliable keeper of the two. Palace fans love him to death, Leeds fans love him (he was the only player not from the Revie era to make an all-time Leeds XI), Everton fans love himâ€¦ and we love him. Nigel, we salute you.
65 MARC OVERMARS
The Dutch Roadrunner was a key player in Arsenal’s double season in 1997/98. He scored the only goal in crucial league victory against Man Utd at Old Trafford. He also scored the first goal in the 1998 FA Cup final, when the Gunners beat Newcastle Utd 2-0. And unlike many foreign players who come to England for a pre-retirement payday, Overmars was at the peak of his powers during his few seasons at Highbury. It’s fair to say that for a couple of years he was probably one of the best wingers in the world.
64 DAVID BATTY
(Leeds Utd 1992-93, Blackburn Rovers 1993-1996, Newcastle Utd 1996-1998, Leeds Utd 1998-04)
Nicky Butt, who just squeaked into this 100, might have modelled his game on that of Batty â€“ although a Manc like Butt would never admit to modelling anything on a true white-rose Yorkie like Batty. They’re very similar midfielders, but Batty has the edge in our book. His workrate was awesome, his tackling fierce, his commitment unwavering. Batty didn’t have Roy Keane’s ability to drive into the opposition box and score goals regularly (although he did score the occasional screamer from outside the box) but he was still a cracking defensive midfielder, loved by managers and fans alike. Go on, give us a smile Batts.
63 JAAP STAM
(Man Utd 1998-2001)
‘Jip Jaap Staam is a big Dutchmanâ€¦’ We don’t think that Man Yoo have ever managed to fill Stam’s considerable boots, although Nemanja Vidic is improving fast. Most Reds we know think that Alex Ferguson’s biggest ever mistake was to let Stam go â€“ Fergie was reportedly furious with some of the allegations in Stam’s autobiography, although the Scot claimed he let Stam go for footballing reasons, which is hilarious, as he was one of United’s best players for three years. We’re sure United would have won more trophies had Stam stayed at Old Trafford, but their loss turned out to be Arsenal and Chelsea’s gain.
62 DUNCAN FERGUSON
(Everton 1994-98, Newcastle Utd 1998-2000, Everton 2000-06)
He’s not the best player on this list, but he’s certainly the hardest. We may get around to doing a ‘Top 100 Hardest Players’ list one day, in which case we’ll tell you now that Big Dunc is a shoo-in for the top spot. He’d have Roy Keane for breakfast. In between the time in prison, the bans and the suspensions, Ferguson managed to be a fine centre-forward, wonderful in the air and guaranteed to give any defender a bruising 90 minutes.
61 SOL CAMPBELL
(Tottenham Hotspur 1992-2001, Arsenal 2001-2006, Portsmouth 2006-)
Forget all the Arsenal/Spurs enmity and the silly tabloid rumours â€“ Sol Campbell (the second player on this list to go by the nickname ‘The Rock’, btw) is a world-class defender and has been for ten years. He was England’s best player at two World Cups (1998 & 2002) and contributed hugely to Arsenal’s famous unbeaten season of 2003/04. And he’s still playing at the highest level, for clean-sheet merchants Portsmouth: no coincidence, that.