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SPL Players Who Have Made It in the English Premier League

Shona BlackContributor IIJanuary 15, 2017

SPL Players Who Have Made It in the English Premier League

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    "My granny could score in the Scottish league." 

    Well, that quote is debatable. No one is doubting the gulf in class between EPL and SPL. But that's not to say that the much-maligned Scottish league doesn't boast—and even breed—a few top-class players with the ability to make it in the Premier League. 

    Footballers arriving to the Premier League from other competitions often struggle to adapt, even from larger leagues in Spain, France or the Netherlands. 

    Remember Afonso Alves? The Brazilian sensation had torn apart Eredivisie opponents, scoring an astonishing seven goals in one single match. 

    That form quickly dried up when he moved to Middlesbrough. Alves now plies his trade in Qatar. 

    But no league garners quite as much scepticism as the Scottish Premier League. 

    When David Moyes signed Nikica Jelavic last January to address Everton's woeful offensive record, many expected Jelavic, a top scorer in SPL, to go the way of Afonso. 

    Not because these pundits or fans had any particular knowledge of the Croatian striker. They based their opinion strictly on the supposed weakness of the league he was transferring from. 

    But Jelavic proved his doubters wrong almost instantly, turning out to be potentially one of the most effective January transfer signings in Premier League history. 

    Is Everton's wonder signing a fluke? 

    Not necessarily. Here are seven other footballers who have made the leap successfully from SPL to EPL.

Mikel Arteta

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    Another of David Moyes' inspired January signings, Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta spent two successful, formative years at Glasgow Rangers before the Everton manager saved him from languishing on Real Sociedad's bench in 2005.

    Arteta's 2011 move to Arsenal only sealed his reputation as one of the Premier League's most influential midfielders.

Charlie Adam

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    Charlie Adam is a bit of an odd case. 

    Strictly speaking, the Scottish midfielder made the leap from SPL not straight to the Premier League, but to the Championship when Rangers loaned and then eventually sold him to Blackpool in 2009. 

    And on top of that, he sank into pretty dire form once he'd moved from relegated Blackpool to Liverpool in the 2011-12 season—though given Liverpool's overall malaise at the time, it's difficult to apportion blame. 

    But for the sheer effectiveness and tremendous dynamism of his EPL debut season with Blackpool, Charlie Adam deserves a mention. 

    It was soon forgotten amid dismal Liverpool performances, but Adam was without a doubt one of the top players of the 2010-11 Premier League season. 

    In 2012-13, Adam has a chance to revive his EPL credentials with Stoke.

David Weir

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    Another SPL transplant to Goodison, David Weir enjoyed eight seasons in the heart of Everton's defence after joining from Hearts in 1999.

    His rock-steady performances helped Everton to their best Premier League finish of fourth in 2004-05.

    Weir recently cemented his status as a Goodison legend when he returned to the club in a coaching role in 2012—while keeping fit with the reserves just in case the Everton defence need him again.

Antti Niemi

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    Craig Gordon's record-breaking transfer from Hearts to Sunderland in 2007 created a stir that was quickly quelled when the unfortunate keeper suffered a series of injuries that effectively ended his Premier League career when it had hardly begun.

    But Hearts had already supplied the Premier League with one top-notch goalkeeper—Finnish international Antti Niemi, who joined Southampton in 2002.

    Niemi established himself as one of the EPL's top keepers in his three years with Southampton and continued his Premier League career with Fulham after the Saints were relegated in 2005.

Stiliyan Petrov

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    Bulgarian midfielder Stiliyan Petrov had been one of Martin O'Neill's key players at Celtic, so it was no surprise when the coach recruited him to Aston Villa in 2006.

    Though instant EPL success eluded him, Petrov persevered and ultimately found his form.

    Petrov won both the Aston Villa Players' and Supporters' Player of the Year awards for his influential performances in 2008-09 and went on to captain the side.

Carlos Cuellar

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    Spanish defender Carlos Cuellar was another of Martin O'Neill's Aston Villa signings.

    Cuellar joined Villa from Rangers in 2008 and proved a versatile and valuable defender, despite falling out of favour and nearly being shipped back to the SPL under subsequent managers Gerard Houllier and Alex McLeish.

    In 2012, Cuellar rejoined O'Neill at Sunderland, and his early-season form has contributed to their unbeaten start.

Steven Fletcher

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    Steven Fletcher is a somewhat unsung hero. 

    He's unlikely ever to attract the attention of a big title-challenging club, but the simple fact is he can pretty much always be relied upon for goals. 

    Which is, after all, what strikers are for. 

    He proved he could do it in the Premier League when newly promoted Burnley brought him in from Hibs in 2009.

    He proved it again with Wolves after Burnley were relegated.

    And now he is again busy making his mark in the Premier League with Sunderland. 

    Fletcher has been scoring like clockwork since his debut, reminding Premier League fans that there will always be a need for proven goal scorers—even if they did cut their teeth in Scotland.

Ones for the Future

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    Players to Watch

    Scotland forward Steven Naismith completed a move from Rangers to Everton in 2012. His hat-trick in teammate Tony Hibbert's testimonial served as notice that the 26-year-old could grow into a powerful role at Goodison.

    Swansea signing Ki Sung-Yeung looks promising in his debut Premier League season after coming from Celtic.

    Celtic striker Gary Hooper has attracted the attention of Liverpool, Newcastle and Southampton, among others. A Premier League move for the England Under-21 international looks inevitable.

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