You won’t find a more famous fairytale than Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but I doubt any of you have heard the one about the Barclays Premier League and its seven pint sized wonders. Well that was going to be my title until I thought about being sued by seven rich angry midgets.
We all know professional sport tends to be full of taller stronger athletes, especially here in Britain where it is difficult for smaller boys to make it at the highest level of football as the winning at all costs mentality sees smaller kids replaced by bigger, stronger lads long before they mature.
And I doubt many countries are any different.
Therefore, these seven vertically challenged (can I say that?) superstars have probably had to work harder than most to make it but are an example to all of us that size does not always matter. I do believe these are the league’s smallest players but I may have missed somebody out as after all, they don’t exactly stand out in a crowd.
But with all the size jokes used up there is only one last thing to say; the EPL’s seven shortest players who are certainly not short of talent.
Everton’s 5'7" (1.71m) South African midfielder has been a regular starter for David Moyes’ side since his move to Merseyside from Borussia Dortmund.
Pienaar, one of South Africa’s best ever exports, started his career with Ajax Cape Town before the feeder club had their most promising player snapped up by Ajax Amsterdam in 2001.
A successful spell in Holland which included two Dutch titles was followed by an unhappy season in Germany with Dortmund. For whatever reason, the skilful midfielder believes he was never accepted by his fellow players and moved on at the first opportunity.
The 36-times capped Pienaar was loaned out to Everton last season with the Toffees taking up the option of making the move permanent last summer for around £2 million.
Quite a small fee do you not think?
With Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman perilously close to joining Pienaar and Baines among this selection. It is safe to say Everton are the smallest team in the Premier League and one wonders just how much of a coincidence this is with their reputation as a hard working industrious side.
5'7" (1.70m) Baines started his career with Wigan Athletic and was part of the side which rose division after division to England’s top flight. The left back impressed in the Premier League and earned a big money move to Everton in the summer of 2007.
After originally struggling to live up to the £5 million fee Baines has impressed this season earning not only Everton’s player of the month award for March and April but a call up to the full England squad.
The 24-year-old definitely has a big future ahead of him.
At 5'5" (1.65m) the Tottenham Hotspur winger is the shortest player in the English top flight but is probably also among the quickest. What he lacks in stature the 22-year-old makes up for with pure speed and unmatchable bursts of energy.
The only thing holding him back is his inconsistent distribution which can make him a frustrating player for not only the opposition but his own fans and players.
Lennon started his career with Leeds United and was once the youngest ever player to play in the Premier League but with the Yorkshire side in financial trouble they sold their starlet to the London side for a mere £1 million.
England caps were to follow but the youngster has yet to make David Beckham’s famous England number seven shirt his own.
It must be said however that it cannot be easy living up to such a huge reputation.
A Tottenham Hotspur player for the second time in his career after a spell at Portsmouth the 5'6.5" (1.69m) striker is garnering a big reputation for falling out with fans of his previous clubs.
Already not fondly remembered by fans of West Ham United for joining Spurs while the Hammers were in Division One, why they were so upset considering he’d once controversially chosen West Ham over Charlton I don’t know.
The England forward fell out with Tottenham due to a lack of game time at White Hart Lane and moved to Portsmouth where the fans enjoyed his goalscoring exploits until he turned tail and moved back to Spurs.
The 26-year-old is recognized as one of the country’s top strikers and is always there or thereabouts when it comes to the national squad. However it is unlikely he’ll ever be a regular starter at such a level.
Especially seeing as the much taller Michael Owen isn’t even being considered.
One of the leagues veteran stars, Barmby has played for Spurs, Middlesbrough, Everton, Liverpool and Leeds in the top flight of English football before dropping down the leagues to join local side Hull City in 2004 but I doubt even he expected he’d once again be plying his trade at the highest level come 2008.
The former England star has aided the Tigers in their climb up the football ladder and proved once again he was and is a quality player.
At just 5'7" (1.70m) and 35 years of age the forward is in his 18th year of professional football and is approaching 500 senior appearances in a career which has seen him being bought and sold for over £5 million three times.
Despite a distinguished career, Barmby has only managed just fewer than 100 goals in 18 seasons, quite a shortfall.
The Brazilian burst onto the Premier League seen with some stunning strikes early in the 2008-09 season helping the newly promoted Hull to death defying top six place.
Sadly the 5'7" (1.71m) forward was unable to keep up his form and his side have had a miserable 2009 which has seen them drop into relegation contention. Probably the least hardest working of the seven mentioned stars.
It just shows how far Hull have come to have a capped Brazilian superstar in their side, one who has played for Barcelona, Benfica, and Cruzeiro among others and commanded fees in excess of £10 million.
Sadly it appears the 29-year-old may just be too short to keep his and Hull’s heads above water in the Barclays Premier League this season.
Finally we have the Belgian-born Malbranque, whose biggest ever mistake, apart from not signing for Arsenal when he supposedly had the chance, was playing for the French under 21’s.
No full international caps have followed for the 29 year old and one expects he would have been of some use to his native Belgium.
At 5'7.5" (1.72m) Malbranque is the biggest of our vertically challenged stars, a giant among mere mortals, alright I’ll stop all that again as the current Sunderland player has had a successful career in England which started with a move to Fulham from Olympique Lyonnais in 2001.
Spells at Tottenham and Sunderland have followed but the Belgian will probably best be remembered for his time at Craven Cottage where he was a firm fan favourite and for the last time, not short of talent.