Premier League: Every Club's Biggest Cult Hero
All 20 Premier League clubs have players that fans just absolutely love. It could be a superstar player such as a Frank Lampard or Wayne Rooney, or a player that is rugged and unloved by anyone else, alas, a Joey Barton or a John Terry.
But no matter what, these players are always loved by their supporters, and are synonymous with their respective clubs.
These 20 players have all played for their club in the Premier League era, and many will never be forgotten.
Arsenal: Ray Parlour
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When he first came to Arsenal, Ray Parlour did not find himself as a starter, but that changed once Arsene Wenger took over.
Parlour was a key player who starred in midfield and on right wing during the Gunners' double winning campaign in 1998. Parlour's passing ability and his strong shooting ability all proved to be difficult for defenses to keep up with.
Despite the fact that he had little experience with the English national team, Parlour made up for it with memorable performances such as a hat trick against Werder Bremen and a fantastic goal against Chelsea to win the 2002 FA Cup.
In 2004, Parlour left the club on a free transfer to Middlesbrough. After a short stint with Hull City, he retired in 2007.
Parlour was affectionately nicknamed “The Romford Pele” due to the high-energy, all-action style that he brought to Arsenal.
Aston Villa: Paul McGrath
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In 1989, Paul McGrath left Manchester United for Aston Villa. At the time, it looked like the Irish player's career was almost over due to his injured knees.
During the three seasons before the Premier League was created, McGrath led the Villans to second place in the 1990 season before barely avoiding relegation due to the departure of manager Graham Taylor.
McGrath had a fantastic year for Villa in 1994. He took home PFA Player of the Year honors, won the Coca Cola (League) Cup and Villa finished second in the table to United.
After winning another League Cup in 1996, McGrath left the club to play briefly for Derby County and Sheffield United. McGrath is still referred by Villa fans as "God".
Bolton: John McGinlay
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In the early 1990's, Bolton were in Division Two and looking for an experienced striker, which allowed for John McGinlay to join the club on a small transfer.
Almost immediately, McGinlay became a star who got Bolton to advance into the first division due to a crucial goal against Swansea on the final day of the season.
McGinlay continued his fantastic form, getting Bolton into the 1995 Coca Cola Cup final and playing a huge role in Bolton's 4-3 win over Reading in the 1995 Play-off final, which gave the Wanderers their first taste of Premier League football.
However, McGinlay was injured throughout much of that Premier League season. Despite him scoring six times, Bolton were relegated.
In his last year with Bolton, McGinlay once again played a massive role and helped Bolton get back into the Premier League with a first-place finish in the first division.
McGinlay then left for Bradford City and Oldham Athletic before moving to the United States to play.
Blackburn: Colin Hendry
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Colin Hendry first joined Blackburn in 1987 and stayed through 1989, playing 102 matches in the process.
However, his impact became much greater after re-joining the Rovers from Manchester City in 1991. Over the next seven years, Hendry continued to play for Blackburn despite numerous injuries.
Hendry was known for his strong defending and his ability to never back down from a challenge. In 1995, Hendry was part of the Blackburn squad that won their first and only Premier League crown.
In 1998, Hendry left the club and went on to play in both Scotland and England throughout the remainder of his career.
Chelsea: Gianfranco Zola
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Gianfranco Zola came to Chelsea via Parma in 1996, and turned into the most popular player in the history of the club.
In his first year, Zola helped Chelsea win the FA Cup with several fantastic performances, including a fantastic goal against Liverpool on their way to the Cup. Zola won the FWA Player of the Year, the only time in history that the award was given to a player that did not play a full season in England.
Zola went on to play a huge role for Chelsea in the Champions League several years later, helping the club to the quarterfinals in their first ever appearance in Europe's premier competition.
In the early 2000's, Zola's time with Chelsea appeared to be up, but he saved his best performance for last.
Zola scored 16 times—his all-time high in England—and was able to get the club to qualify once again for the Champions League.
Zola went to play for Cagliari in Italy before retiring. Zola managed West Ham for two seasons before getting sacked. He was ranked first by Chelsea's fans in a poll for the greatest player in the club's history.
Everton: Barry Horne
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Barry Horne joined Everton from Southampton in 1992 and proved to be one of the most influential figures for the Toffees during their first several years in the top flight.
Horne quickly became known for his tough tackling and his determination, which were important for some Everton sides that were close to getting relegated.
The most important goal that Horne scored came during the last day of the 1994 season. With Everton down 2-1 in the second half to Wimbledon, Horne unleashed a 30-yard missile that rung in off the post, tying the match at two. Everton went on to win the match and stayed in the Premiership.
In 1995, Horne captained Everton to their last trophy to date; the FA Cup, which was won against Manchester United.
Horne departed Everton in 1996, but the impression that he left at Goodison Park will not soon be forgotten.
Fulham: Luis Boa Morte
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Luis Boa Morte joined Fulham on loan from Southampton in 2000 and immediately made a major impact.
Morte was part of the legendary front three, along with Louis Saha and Barry Hayles, that got the club into the Premier League.
Morte scored 18 times in that season, and the move became permanent before the start of the 2001-2002 campaign. However, Morte's form took a dramatic downturn over the next several seasons.
In 2004 and 2005, Morte did achieve a total of 19 goals, but he was never again the same player as he was during that fantastic Championship winning season.
However, Fulham fans did not let this affect their attitude. Morte became known for his never-say-die and sometimes aggressive style of play, which caused numerous problems between the referees and the Portuguese international.
Liverpool: Igor Biscan
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Igor Biscan joined Liverpool from Dinamo Zagreb in 2000 and quickly became a fan favorite. Biscan was originally signed as a central midfielder, but soon moved out to center back.
Over the next several years, Biscan got limited playing time, but once again found himself gracing Anfield's grass in 2004.
In 2005, his final season, Biscan made a massive impact for Liverpool in their Champions League-winning side. He made several tremendous plays against some of the largest clubs in Europe, and picked up a winner's medal for his efforts.
Biscan went on to play for Panathinaikos and is currently playing in Zagreb. However, no fan has forgotten Biscan after that memorable final season.
Manchester City: Shaun Goater
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He may have started off his career with Manchester United, but Shaun Goater made his impact for the blue side of Manchester.
Goater came to City when they were on the verge of going into the third division of English football in 1998. Goater was able to help City with some important goals, but it didn't prove to be enough as the Citizens went down to the third division.
In the next two seasons, Goater scored a combined total of 48 goals, which proved to be extremely important to City, who earned consecutive promotions back into the Premier League.
Despite injuries, Goater scored a team high 11 goals in his first Premier League season. But City were once again relegated.
Goater retaliated with a monster, 32-goal campaign in 2002, leading City back into the top flight.
In his final season, Goater got significantly less playing time. But in the final match at Maine Road, Goater captained City and ended his career with 103 goals for Man City.
Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came to Manchester United as an unknown player in 1996, but when he retired from the club in 2007, he was known as one of the greatest players to ever play for the Red Devils.
Solskjaer became known as a super sub during his time at Old Trafford. Altogether, Solskjaer scored an impressive 28 goals off the bench, more than any other player in the history of Manchester United.
In 1999, Solskjaer made one of the most legendary plays in United's history when he scored the winning goal in the Champions League final over Bayern Munich, completing the treble for United.
In his later years with the club, Solskjaer dealt with injuries along with older age. Despite this, he continued to play well when healthy and was still one of the most popular players with the fans.
Solskjaer went into coaching as soon as he retired, first with Manchester United's reserves and more recently with Molde, where he won the Tippeligaen in his first season in charge.
Newcastle: Alan Shearer
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Alan Shearer won a Premier League title with Blackburn, but he will always be remembered for his time with Newcastle.
Shearer came to the Toon in 1996 and became one of the greatest players in their history thanks to his stats accumulated over the next 10 years.
Shearer had an incredible 206 goals with the club, and helped the club reach consecutive FA Cup finals at the end of the 1990's.
In the new millenium, Shearer continued his great performances and was a tremendous leader.
In 2006, Shearer retired and had a sold-out testimonial played in his honor. In 2009, Shearer returned to manage Newcastle to try to keep the Toon in the Premier League. However, Shearer was unsuccessful in his efforts and returned to his job as a football pundit after the season ended.
Norwich City: Bryan Gunn
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Bryan Gunn came to Norwich City in 1986 and became a legend and cult hero with his 390 appearances with the Canaries.
Gunn quickly became known for his great goalkeeping and his ability to stand up to adversity after his daughter died from leukemia.
In the first Premier League season, Gunn helped Norwich finish third and earn a berth in the UEFA Cup for the next season. In that UEFA Cup, Gunn and Norwich stunned Bayern Munich, with Gunn making several fantastic saves.
Gunn helped Norwich to other top-ten finishes in the Premier League, but Norwich were relegated the next season because of an injury to Gunn.
In his last season with Norwich, Gunn continued his fearless style of play, but was unable to get Norwich back into the Premiership.
Gunn went on to manage Norwich in 2009 but was unable to keep the Canaries in the Championship, as they moved into the third division for the first time in almost 50 years.
Queens Park Rangers: Les Ferdinand
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Les Ferdinand came to QPR as a 21-year-old in 1987. In his first stint at the club, he slowly started to mature as both a player and a person.
After getting loaned out twice, Ferdinand started to find the scoring touch in his last two seasons before the start of the Premier League by tallying 18 goals. Once the Premier League started, Ferdinand caught lightning, scoring 20 times to earn QPR a fifth-place finish.
Ferdinand continued his great play in the 1994 season, finding the net 16 times, and drew the interest of both Manchester United and Arsenal in the process.
In 1995, Ferdinand had arguably the greatest season of his career, scoring 24 goals in 37 appearances, which led to Ferdinand joining Newcastle in a big transfer over the summer.
After joining Newcastle, Ferdinand played for the likes of West Ham, Bolton and Tottenham, but he will always be remembered for his time at QPR.
Stoke City: Ryan Shawcross
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Stoke have only been in the Premier League for four years, but Ryan Shawcross has been their most noteworthy player from this time.
Shawcross joined the Potters from Manchester United in 2008, and has continued to impress with Stoke. He helped them achieve promotion to the Premier League in 2008 and has continued to play harder with every season.
In the last several seasons, Shawcross has become the captain of Stoke, has helped them reach their first ever FA Cup final and a spot in the Europa League, where they look like they will advance into the round of 32.
Sunderland: Niall Quinn
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Niall Quinn joined Sunderland in 1996 from Manchester City, and even though he was unable to keep the Black Cats in the Premiership, his actions afterward certainly endeared him to the Sunderland faithful.
Quinn went on to join Kevin Phillips and create one of the most feared striking duos in recent memory. Together, they ripped up the first division and got back into the Premier League in 1999.
Combined in their first Premier League season, Quinn helped Phillips score 30 times, earning him the Golden Boot for both the Premier League and Europe.
Sunderland went on to capture consecutive seventh-place finishes and got recalled to play for Ireland in the 2002 World Cup.
However, injuries forced Quinn to retire late in 2002. Quinn's retirement hurt Sunderland tremendously, as they got relegated the same year.
Quinn went on to manage Sunderland for a brief period before becoming their chairman until October 2011. He is currently in charge of Sunderland's international development program.
Swansea City: Scott Sinclair
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Scott Sinclair came to Swansea by means of Chelsea in 2010, and played a huge role in making Swansea the first Welsh side to play in the Premier League.
Last season, Sinclair scored 27 goals for Swansea, helping them to first reach the Championship Playoffs before getting the club into the Premier League with a hat trick against Reading in the final.
This season, Sinclair scored the first goal for Swansea in the Premier League, and will look to further enhance his image by helping the club stay in the top flight.
Tottenham: Steffen Freund
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Steffen Freund won the Champions League and Euro 1996 before joining Tottenham in 1998.
In his next five years with the Spurs, Freund didn't score a single goal, yet became a fan favorite for his actions on the field because he was able to rile up fans more than any other player.
Freund won the Worthington Cup in 1999 and later became famous for wearing the jersey that he wore in the final to a league match at Old Trafford, where Freund sat with the fans while watching his old club play Man United.
Freund left Tottenham and played for Kaiserslautern and Leicester City before retiring.
West Bromwich: Russell Hoult
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Russell Hoult joined West Brom from Portsmouth in 2001, and in his first year he helped the club reach the Premier League with some fantastic goalkeeping.
Following a year in the Premier League (when they were relegated) and another season in the first division (when they were promoted), Hoult played a major part in West Brom's most famous Premier League campaign.
In 2004, Hoult was named one of West Bromwich Albion's 16 greatest players, in a poll organised as part of the club's 125th anniversary celebrations.
Hoult was in goal for most of the 2004-2005 season that saw West Brom complete the Great Escape after the Baggies were at the bottom of the table at Christmas. West Brom became the first club to achieve survival after being at the bottom of the league table.
Due to some problems in his personal life, Hoult had to leave West Brom in 2007. Hoult now plays for Hereford United in League Two.
Wigan Athletic: Arjan De Zeeuw
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Arjan de Zeeuw came to Wigan from Barnsley in 1998 (who he helped get into the Premier League two years before) and immediately made a big impact for them.
Over the next five seasons, de Zeeuw won the club's Player of the Year award and continued to endear himself to the fans with his strong character.
In 2002, de Zeeuw left the club, moved to Portsmouth and went on to earn a promotion in the Premier League during his four-year stint at Fratton Park.
Despite his advancing age, de Zeeuw came back to Wigan once they got promoted in 2005, and was later voted the side's best player ever in a PFA vote.
In 2007, de Zeeuw left the club for Coventry City before retiring shortly thereafter.
Wolverhampton: Adlene Guedioura
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He came to Wolves via a loan from Charleroi in 2010, and was a reason why they were able to survive last year.
Gudioura broke his leg in September of 2010, but he was still able to recover to play at the end of the season. Gudioura scored a crucial goal against West Brom to help the Wolves beat the Baggies in an important derby match.
Thanks in large part to some more fantastic play by Gudioura, the Wolves were able to stay up by the skin of their teeth. Guedioura is now owned by the Wolves and will look to make a big impact for them this season.
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