Steven Gerrard and 20 Great Players Never to Win the Premier League

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistMay 18, 2015

Steven Gerrard and 20 Great Players Never to Win the Premier League

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    He's been on the front line of Liverpool's attempts to win the Premier League for the last 17 years, but in the end, even the efforts of the great Steven Gerrard didn't prove to be enough.

    The Reds icon leaves the club having won pretty much every other honour available to him apart from the league title, something that will leave a frustrating gap in his medal collection and will lead many to constantly—and loudly—criticise him.

    Gerrard is far from alone in being a fantastic player who has never lifted the Premier League title, though, as these examples show.

The Rules

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    First of all, though, a reminder that there was football before 1992 and the invention of the Premier League.

    Ian Rush, Liverpool's greatest goalscorer, won five league titles when the English top flight was still branded as the First Division, but he was unable to lift the title during his six years playing in the Premier League with Liverpool, Leeds United and Newcastle United.

    Players such as Rush, his Wales international colleague Gary Speed and the ex-Leeds, Coventry City and Liverpool midfielder Gary McAllister were all able to experience the joy of being crowned as a champion, but for the players we'll list here, that never happened. We're only interested in those who have never won the league in England, whether that is the Premier League or the old First Division.

    All set? Let's start with one of Rush's former Anfield strike partners.

Robbie Fowler

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    Premier League seasons: 16

    English football in the 1990s was awash with great goalscorers, and few had the unerring finishing ability of Liverpool's Robbie Fowler.

    Fowler scored more than 30 goals in three successive seasons between 1994 and 1997—remarkably, between the ages of 19 and 22—and although injury somewhat restricted his powers in later years, he still remained an icon on the Kop before leaving for Leeds in 2001.

    After his spell at Elland Road, he played for Manchester City before making a dramatic move back to Liverpool in January 2006, where he scored the last of his 163 Premier League goals—a tally that puts him sixth on the all-time scoring list in the division's current incarnation.

Matt Le Tissier

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    Premier League seasons: 10

    While Gerrard is, quite rightly, receiving praise from many for his devotion to the Liverpool cause, there are plenty who'd say that it is easy to stay at a club who are constantly competing for trophies. Matt Le Tissier never had such luxury.

    Frequently battling against relegation with Southampton, Le Tissier's quality shone through at the Dell, as he scored exactly 100 top-flight goals during his 10 Premier League seasons with the Saints.

    At the peak of his powers, between 1992 and 1995, Le Tissier scored 60 goals—plenty of which were spectacular—while he was also renowned for a remarkable record from the penalty spot, and he only missed once in 48 career spot-kicks.

Gianfranco Zola

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    Premier League seasons: 7

    Before the Roman Abramovich millions powered Chelsea to four Premier League titles post-2003, they were a club in thrall to the genius of the little Italian Gianfranco Zola.

    A Serie A winner in the Diego Maradona-led Napoli team in 1990, Zola pitched up in west London in 1996 to begin a seven-year period that led to many still calling him Chelsea's greatest player of all time.

    He scored 80 Premier League goals in that time, but it was his creative genius and the joy he brought to the game that captivated many.

Luis Suarez

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    Premier League seasons: 4

    After blowing into Anfield like a hurricane in January 2011, Luis Suarez packed an awful lot of things into his three-and-a-half years as a Liverpool player—but a Premier League title wasn't one of them.

    His goals took Liverpool within touching distance of glory in the 2013/14 season, when a staggering record of 31 goals in 33 league games left no one in any doubt about his quality and led to Barcelona's £75 million move for one of the best players in world football right now.

    The Uruguayan remains a divisive, controversial figure, but there is little doubt that the Premier League is a less exciting place without him.

David Ginola

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    Premier League seasons: 7

    In the mid-1990s, foreign players in England were still considered somewhat glamorous, and no one more so than French winger David Ginola.

    Two seasons at Newcastle United between 1995 and 1997 alerted the division to his talents, but his best individual performances arguably came following a £2.5 million move to Tottenham Hotspur, where he won both the PFA and Football Writers' Player of the Year in the 1998/99 season.

    Later spells at Aston Villa and Everton failed to see him recapture the form that made him such a watchable player, but he certainly left the division with plenty of great memories.

Ruud Gullit

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    Premier League seasons: 3

    After just one season at Chelsea, Dutch great Ruud Gullit had already become enough of an icon at the club that he was appointed as the player-manager when Glenn Hoddle left to take on the England job.

    Having excelled at Milan and widely been seen as one of the best European players of his generation, Gullit's brief at Stamford Bridge was to help bring through the club's younger players while adding the touch of glamour that the west London club have always sought.

    He won the FA Cup in 1997 but never the Premier League title.

Jamie Carragher

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    Premier League seasons: 17

    While Gerrard was bombing up and down the pitch and sometimes winning matches for Liverpool on his own, Jamie Carragher was charged with keeping things tight at the back.

    He usually did that too, and he was a key player as his side won the Champions League in 2005, as well as every other major honour bar the Premier League.

    That gap in his CV will forever remain, though, and like Gerrard, that will always be a career regret. But as a one-club man, a player who got the most out of his career and became an icon to his supporters, there remain few better examples than Carragher.

Marcel Desailly

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    Premier League seasons: 6

    Winning the World Cup with France was a pretty good backdrop to sealing his move to the Premier League in the summer of 1998, and when he arrived at Chelsea, Marcel Desailly didn't disappoint.

    A leader in central defence, Desailly won two Serie A titles with AC Milan prior to his move to Stamford Bridge, but the only major trophy he won in England was the FA Cup in 2000.

    He was still at the club when Roman Abramovich took over in 2003, but he moved to Qatar a year later.

Gareth Bale

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    Premier League seasons: 6

    A promising left-back when he left Championship side Southampton for Tottenham and the Premier League in 2007, Gareth Bale matured into one of the most devastating attackers in world football, even if his world-record move to Real Madrid has started to turn a little sour.

    Bale never lifted a trophy during his time at White Hart Lane, with the most success he achieved coming in the shape of two top-four finishes.

    The Welshman might return to the UK one day, though, and it would be a surprise if he never tastes top-flight glory in his career.

Fernando Torres

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    Premier League seasons: 7

    In three-and-a-half seasons at Liverpool and three-and-a-half seasons Chelsea, Fernando Torres produced markedly different goalscoring form, but he was unable to lift the Premier League title in any of them.

    It was in the red of Liverpool that English football fans saw the best of of the Spanish forward, who scored 24 Premier League goals in his first season with the club—more than he managed during his entire spell at Chelsea following his £50 million move south in 2011.

    Now back home at Atletico Madrid, the 31-year-old is seeking to recapture the form that made him one of the best forwards in the world, although replicating his Liverpool days looks to now be beyond him.

Les Ferdinand

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    Premier League seasons: 13

    The eighth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history with 149 goals, winning trophies never went hand in hand with Les Ferdinand's undoubtedly impressive career.

    The powerful centre-forward scored Premier League goals for Queens Park Rangers, Newcastle, Tottenham, West Ham United, Leicester City and Bolton Wanderers, as well as five for England, but he never got closer to success than when he was a member Kevin Keegan's exciting Newcastle sides of the mid-1990s.

    These days a director of football at relegated QPR, Ferdinand's knowledge could well be needed at a club where he is considered an icon.

Xabi Alonso

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    Premier League seasons: 5

    When Rafael Benitez pitched up at Liverpool in 2004, he immediately wanted to give his side a Spanish flavour, and by signing Xabi Alonso, he certainly did that.

    The elegant midfielder was a key player in the Benitez side that remarkably won the Champions League in his first season in charge—scoring in the final against AC Milan in Istanbul—while he helped the Reds to a second-place finish in 2008/09.

    Like so many players to have passed through Anfield in the past 25 years, though, he left without a league winners' medal, something he has since picked up at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Gianluca Vialli

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    Premier League seasons: 3

    A Serie A winner with Sampdoria and Juventus in his native Italy, Gianluca Vialli was never able to add the Premier League title to that tally after joining Chelsea in 1996.

    He did pretty well apart from that, though, winning both domestic cup competitions and the Cup Winners' Cup as Chelsea's centre-forward and later player-manager following the dismissal of Ruud Gullit.

    A ruthless goal-getter who Chelsea fans wish had joined the club before the age of 32, Vialli's best days certainly came in Italy,, but he is still fondly remembered at Stamford Bridge.

Robbie Keane

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    Premier League seasons: 13

    One hundred and twenty-six Premier League goals makes Robbie Keane the 13th-highest goalscorer in the competition's history, with the Republic of Ireland international also holding his country's goalsoring record and sitting 10th on Tottenham's all-time list.

    It was at White Hart Lane that English football saw the best of him and where he picked up his only trophy in English football—the 2008 League Cup—although he was part of the Liverpool squad that finished second in the league in the 2008/09 season.

    These days playing at LA Galaxy, so he's about to be reunited with his old Liverpool team-mate Gerrard.

Sami Hyypia

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    Premier League seasons: 10

    Liverpool fans weren't expecting much from Finnish central defender Sami Hyypia when he arrived from Dutch club Willem II for just £2.6 million in the summer of 1999, but what they got was one of the best defenders in their long history.

    Hyypia played a crucial role for Liverpool for 10 years, during which the Reds enjoyed success both at home and abroad, but like so many great players at Anfield, the Premier League title eluded him.

    Two FA Cups, two League Cups, the UEFA Cup and the Champions League wasn't too bad a haul, though.

Paul Gascoigne

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    Premier League seasons: 4

    One of the great cult heroes of English football, midfielder Paul Gascoigne only played in the Premier League for four seasons.

    Two of those seasons were with Middlesbrough and two were with Everton, both of whom were more concerned about staying in the division than trying to win it at the time, ensuring that Gazza only ever won the 1991 FA Cup in terms of major English honours.

    He did win two league titles during his three years in Scotland with Rangers, but the football icon's career left the English league winner box unticked.

Javier Mascherano

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    Premier League seasons: 4 (plus one game in 2010/11)

    The loan deal that took both him and Carlos Tevez to West Ham in 2006 might still have an air of mystery about it, but following his move to Liverpool, Javier Mascherano established himself as a world-class defensive midfielder.

    The Argentinian was a vital player in the Reds side that came second in the 2008/09 season, but his time at Anfield would remain trophyless right up until his departure for Barcelona in 2010.

    He is still remembered fondly at Anfield, though, where they'd love to have him back one day.

Paul McGrath

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    Premier League seasons: 5

    Paul McGrath's best days came with Manchester United back before the formation of the Premier League, but he was still capable of battling injuries to turn out for Aston Villa on a regular basis in the early days of the revamped English top flight.

    He won two League Cups while at Villa Park, as well as the PFA Players' Player of the Year Award in 1993, but despite his side being up there at the top end of the table, he couldn't help them to league glory, something that also eluded him during his time at United.

    McGrath is still revered at both clubs, though, and he's also regarded as a Republic of Ireland legend.

Pepe Reina

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    Premier League seasons: 8

    Liverpool were the European champions when goalkeeper Pepe Reina signed for them from Villarreal in the summer of 2005, but the Spain international was unable to help the Reds to league glory during his time at Anfield.

    He did win both the FA and League Cups and help the Reds reach another Champions League final, with his displays for the Reds leading many to claim that he was the best goalkeeper in the Premier League during certain periods.

    He's certainly at the front and centre of the conversations when it comes to goalkeepers who've never won the competition.

Steven Gerrard

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    Premier League seasons: 17

    There was a time last season when it looked as though Steven Gerrard was going to lead Liverpool to their first league title in 24 years, only for a costly slip against Chelsea to severely damage their hopes.

    Gerrard is still and will always be revered as an icon around Anfield, though, as was demonstrated by the huge outpouring of emotion and gratitude upon his final appearance at the ground against Crystal Palace.

    He might not have won a league title, but with two FA Cups, three League Cups, a UEFA Cup and a Champions League for his hometown club on his CV, he will forever remain a Liverpool legend and perhaps go down in history as their greatest player.