Every EPL Club's Biggest Cult Hero Ever
With some of the most passionate fans in sport, each team in English Premier League has an obligation to put players on the field that the supporters want to see.
Whether the teams have just reached the EPL for the first time or have been there for years, each club has had a number of players that have become a cult hero of sorts.
The memories these players have left with the fans of their respective clubs will live on forever.
Arsenal: Thierry Henry
Enjoying his second stint with the Gunners right now, Henry first became a star at the club in his first spell from 1999-2007.
Arsenal supporters were skeptical at first about manager Arsene Wenger’s move for the French striker as he failed to score in his first eight appearances. Henry found his form and finished that season with 26 goals, proving his doubters wrong.
Henry would go on to become Arsenal’s all-time leading goal scorer in 2005, a record held by Ian Wright since 1997.
Last year in December, the club erected a bronze statue of Henry, commemorating the success he brought to North London. He rejoined Arsenal in early January 2012 on a two month loan. A fan favorite, he scored in his second Arsenal debut.
Aston Villa: Savo Milosevic
Earning the nickname “Missalotevic” for being inconsistent at times, Milosevic was brought to Villa in the summer of 1995 for a then club record of £3.5 million.
Milosevic played for the club until 1998 and scored at a rate of about one goal every three games during his time there.
The hot-and-cold striker is best remembered by Villa fans for scoring in a 3-0 win over Leeds United in the 1996 League Cup final at Wembley and also scoring a hat-trick against Coventry City.
Blackburn Rovers: Colin Hendry
Hendry had two stints at Blackburn, playing in more than 300 games for the club.
He was converted to a defender from a striker upon arriving at Blackburn.
Though he scored more goals in his first stint with Blackburn, (1987-1989), the club had greater success during his second spell (1991-1998) as they won the EPL for the first and only time in the club’s history.
Hendry was a strong defender who played through a number of injuries and never backed down from his opponents.
Bolton Wanderers: John McGinlay
McGinlay became a star right after joining Bolton on a small transfer fee from Millwall.
Scoring a critical goal against Swansea on the final day of the season in 1992, McGinlay helped Bolton advance to the first division.
It wasn’t until 1995 when McGinlay played a huge role in Bolton’s 4-3 win over Reading in the 1995 playoff, which promoted the club to the top flight for the first time.
The Scottish striker was injured for most of the following season and Bolton was relegated once again. However, he played an instrumental role in his final season with the club as they were once again promoted to the Premier League.
Chelsea: Gianfranco Zola
Zola moved to Chelsea in 1996 from Parma and helped the Blues win the FA Cup in his first year.
In the 1999-2000 season, the Italian scored three goals while helping the club to the quarterfinals of the Champions League in their first time even qualifying for the competition.
In his final season with Chelsea, Zola netted 16 goals, his highest total with Chelsea, and once again helped the club qualify for the Champions League.
Everton: Barry Horne
After moving to Goodison Park in 1992, Horne showed he was a tough player who helped Everton avoid relegation.
He scored Everton’s first premier league goal, but is mostly remembered for scoring on the last day of the 1993-1994 season. Everton was down 2-1 against Wimbledon and needed a win to avoid being relegated. Horne tied the score at two and Everton went on to win 3-2 to stay in the EPL.
Everton last won a trophy in 1995, the FA Cup, with Horne as the Captain.
Fulham: Gordon Davies
Earning the nickname “Ivor the Engine,” Gordon Davies was the most prolific goal scorer to ever put on the Fulham uniform.
Scoring 159 goals in 394 appearances is an astonishing amount for the Cottagers, but many supporters remember him for more than his ability to find the back of the net. Davies used to put his hand under his uniform to show his beating heart before corner kicks. Many remember the grin that consumed his face with every goal he scored.
“Ivor the Engine” brought an enthusiasm to Fulham that lives on today.
Liverpool: Steven Gerrard
Joining Liverpool’s youth academy at nine years of age, Gerrard made his first team debut in 1998.
Gerrard has been the captain since 2003 and in 2005 led the Reds to their first Champions League trophy in 20 years. The game was a thriller as Liverpool came back from a three-goal deficit against A.C. Milan in a six-minute span during the second half. Gerrard scored one of the goals and was named man of the match.
While he has struggled with injuries throughout his career, he still has managed almost 400 appearances for Liverpool and has scored almost once every four games.
Manchester City: Shaun Goater
In a spell with Manchester City that lasted five years, from 1998 through 2003, Goater topped 212 appearances with 104 goals.
What was even better for City fans, he earned his 100th goal as one of two goals he scored in a 3-1 win against rival club Manchester United, the club he began his professional career with but failed to break into the first team.
City fans jabbed United fans for overlooking Goater and would sing “Feed the Goat and he will score!” at games.
Manchester United: Eric Cantona
Cantona arrived at Old Trafford in 1992 on a bargain transfer fee of £1.2 million.
Though he scored 82 goals in 185 appearances for the Red Devils, he is mostly remembered for how he played the game. Cantona had strong skills on the ball and played with a certain finesse and confidence that radiated with his teammates and Man U. supporters.
Manchester United won the first EPL title in 1993 and would win four before Cantona retired in 1997. Fans were saddened with the announcement, but it did not lower Cantona’s standing among them.
Newcastle United: Alan Shearer
Joining Newcastle on a then world record transfer fee of £15 million, Shearer had a lot of expectations to live up to for his hometown club.
Shearer became the club’s all-time leading goal scorer in 2006, but he was also an important leader for the club. He always gave his best effort and lead by example. If his teammates were not at their best, he would intervene. Shearer finished his career with 206 goals for the Magpies.
The Newcastle native was also very loyal to the club. He was a lifelong supporter and said that he seriously considered his future with Newcastle when the club struggled with Ruud Gullit in charge. He almost certainly would have left if it were any other club he was playing for.
Norwich City: Bryan Gunn
Bryan Gunn was sent from Aberdeen to Norwich City in 1986 and quickly became a star with the club.
Gunn helped Norwich finish third in the first season of the Premier League which earned them a spot in the UEFA Cup. Norwich, and Gunn, had perhaps their finest moments in that tournament when they upset German heavyweight Bayern Munich.
Making 478 first team appearances for Norwich, Gunn helped the Canaries to a number of top-ten Premier League finishes, but the club was relegated in 1995 after Gunn was injured.
The following season would be Gunn’s last at Norwich and the club was not able to earn promotion back to the Premier League
Queens Park Rangers: Les Ferdinand
Ferdinand joined Queens Park Rangers in 1987, making his debut when he was 20 years old.
After two loan stints, Ferdinand found action with the QPR first team. He scored 20 goals in the first season of the FA Premier League and helped the club to a fifth-place finish—the highest of all the London based teams.
Two seasons later was perhaps the most successful of Ferdinand’s career. He made 37 appearances and scored 24 goals, causing him to draw interest from some of the bigger clubs in England.
Ferdinand left Queens Park and joined Newcastle after the 1995 season.
Stoke City: George Berry
Berry began his career with Wolves, making his professional debut at age 18. After the club was relegated, he was sold to Stoke City in 1982.
Berry would spend eight years with the club and go on to make 237 appearances. He also captained the squad.
His spell at Stoke ended in 1990 when the Potters dropped to the third tier of English football.
Sunderland: Niall Quinn
Quinn joined Sunderland in August 1996 on a club record transfer fee of £1.3 million.
Sunderland was relegated after the Irish international striker’s first season.
Partnering up top with Kevin Phillips, who was signed at the conclusion of the 1997 season, proved to be one of the most productive front lines of the late 1990s. The duo helped Sunderland reach the top flight again in 1999.
Quinn helped the club reach finishes in the EPL as high as seventh. He was forced to retire in 2002, preceding Sunderland’s relegation later that year.
Swansea City: Scott Sinclair
Sinclair joined Swansea in 2010 and helped them reach the EPL.
He scored 27 goals for the Swans last season, including a hat trick against Reading in the Championship playoff final, as they became the first Welsh club to play in England’s top league.
He has scored six goals this season while Swansea is sitting at 13th in the Premiership, a comfortable nine points above the relegation zone.
Tottenham Hotspur: Jurgen Klinsmann
Joining Tottenham in 1994, Klinsmann originally received a lot of criticism from supporters and the media because he had a reputation as a diver and also was a part of the West German team that defeated England in the 1990 World Cup semi-final.
The German international striker scored his first goal in his debut against Sheffield Wednesday, and using his sense of humor, celebrated his goal by diving across the pitch.
Writing for The Guardian, Andrew Anthony wrote an article with the headline, “Why I Hate Jurgen Klinsmann.” Two months later, Anthony wrote another article, this time the headline reading, “Why I Love Jurgen Klinsmann.”
Klinsmann left White Hart Lane after one season but rejoined for the 1997-1998 season. He scored many important goals to help Spurs avoid relegation. His humor and aggressive playing style made him very popular in England and he was inducted into Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in London.
West Bromwich Albion: Cyrille Regis
Debuting for Albion’s first team in a League Cup match against Rotherham United on August 31, 1977, Regis scored twice.
He went on to score 112 total goals for the club in 301 appearances. In 1978, he was voted the PFA Young Player of the Year and was awarded the Goal of the Season in 1982.
Regis and two black teammates were known as “Three Degrees.” At the time, it was uncommon for an English club to play three black players at the same time. The “Three Degrees” played an integral in the acceptance of blacks in English football.
Wigan Athletic: Roberto Martinez
The leader of Wigan’s “Three Amigos,” Martinez made his club debut in August 1995. That season, the club’s supporters voted him Player of the Year as he scored 13 goals.
He was the first Spaniard to score in the FA Cup and was twice selected to the Division Three PFA Team of the Year.
Over his six season stint with Wigan, Martinez scored 23 goals and became a fan favorite. He has managed the club since 2009.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Steve Bull
The most loyal player to don the Wolverhampton uniform, Steve Bull played more than 13 years at Molineux.
Amassing more than 450 appearances for the club, “Bully” is Wolve's all-time leading goal scorer with 306. He also holds the club record for most hat tricks with 18 and most goals in season when he scored an astonishing 52 in the 1987-1988 season.
Twice he almost led the Wanderers to the top flight, but they lost in both the 1995 and 1997 playoffs.