The 32 Greatest Footballers in Premier League History

Andrew Jordan@@Andrew_JordanSenior Writer ISeptember 9, 2010

The 32 Greatest Footballers in Premier League History

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    MANCHESTER - DECEMBER 7:  Paul Scholes of Man Utd clashes with Thierry Henry of Arsenal during the Manchester United v Arsenal FA Barclaycard Premiership match at Old Trafford on December 7, 2002 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Since its inauguration in 1993, the English Premier League has seen many fantastic players take part in the most popular domestic football league in the world.

    Whether it is a player who played for Arsenal or Manchester United, or a player from a club such as a Leicester City or Ipswich Town, the Premier League has seen thousands of footballers take place in its league in its 18 years.

    With this in mind, here is a list of the 32 Greatest Footballers in Premier League history.

No. 32: Sol Campbell

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    LONDON - JANUARY 24:  Sol Campbell of Arsenal in action during the Carling Cup Semi Final 2nd leg between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at Highbury Stadium on January 24, 2006 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Tottenham (1992-2001), Arsenal (2001-2006, 2010), Portsmouth (2007-2009) and Newcastle (2010 to present).

    Another player that has been in the Premier League since its creation in 1992, Sol Campbell has found himself as one of the most famous footballers in England during this time.

    Overall, Campbell was able to win the Premier League twice with Arsenal (2002 and 2004) and won the FA Cup twice with Arsenal and once with Portsmouth.

No. 31: Les Ferdinand

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    29 Dec 2001:  Les Ferdinand of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring the opening goal of the match during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match against Aston Villa played at Villa Park, in Birmingham, England. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. DIGITAL IMAGE.Ma
    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Queens Park Rangers (1992-1995, Newcastle (1995-1997), Tottenham (1997-2003), West Ham (2003), Leicester City (2003-2004) and Bolton (2004-2005).

    The cousin of fellow Premier League players Rio and Anton Ferdinand, Les Ferdinand spent a large portion of his career in the Premier League as one of the most accomplished English strikers in the league's history.

    Ferdinand also scored the 10,000th goal in league history back in 2001 and has the fifth most goals in Premier League history with 149.

No. 30: Marcel Desailly

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    LONDON - DECEMBER 26:  Marcel Desailly of Chelsea running with the ball during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Charlton Athletic and Chelsea on December 26, 2003 at The Valley in London, England.  Charlton Athletic won the match 4-2.  (Photo
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Chelsea (1998-2004).

    Even though he only spent six years in England, Ghanaian-born and French international Marcel Desailly was able to be part of the Premier League's Team of the Decade in 2003 and was always a fantastic player for Chelsea.

    During his time with Chelsea, Desailly was able to continue his fantastic winning ways by winning the FA Cup in 2000 and the UEFA Super Cup in 1998.

No. 29: Denis Irwin

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    18 Sep 1999:  Denis Irwin of Manchester United in action during the FA Carling Premier League game between Manchester United and Wimbledon at Old Trafford, Manchester, England. The game finished in a 1-1 draw. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill /Allsport
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Manchester United (1992-2002) and Wolverhampton (2003-2004).

    Voted as a member of the Premier League team of the decade back in 2003, Denis Irwin was an incredible winner with Manchester United during his time at Old Trafford, winning seven Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a Champions League during his ten years in the Premier League with United.

    Irwin always found himself as a major contributor with United even at the end of his career, and is one of the greatest footballers to ever play for the Red Devils.

No. 28: David James

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    19 Dec 1998:  David James in goal for Liverpool against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Carling Premiership match at Anfield in Liverpool, England. Liverpool won 2-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill /Allsport
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Liverpool (1992-1999), Aston Villa (1999-2001), West Ham (2001-2003), Manchester City (2004-2006) and Portsmouth (2006-2010).

    The player with the most appearances and clean sheets in Premier League history, David James has been a Premier League goalkeeper that has been around since the beginning of the league 18 years ago.

    Overall, James has only won the FA Cup once (with Portsmouth in 2008), and never has won the Premier League.

No. 27: Gianfranco Zola

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    20 May 2000:  Gianfranco Zola of Chelsea in action during the AXA FA Cup Final 2000 against Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium, London, England. Chelsea won 1-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill /Allsport
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Chelsea (1996-2003).

    One of the first players from Italy to star in the Premier League, Gianfranco Zola left a major impact with Chelsea as his play helped to make Chelsea into a European power.

    Overall, Zola helped Chelsea win two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners Cup before moving back to Italy to play for Cagliari in 2003.

No. 26: Cristiano Ronaldo

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    MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 08: Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal from the penalty spot during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Derby County at Old Trafford on Decembe
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Manchester United (2003-2009)

    The only FIFA World Player of the Year in Premier League history, Cristiano Ronaldo was able to become one of the best players in the world during his six years at Old Trafford before securing the richest move in football history to Real Madrid in 2009.

    Overall, Ronaldo won three straight Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a Champions League title while with United along with becoming one of the most talented footballer in Europe.

No. 25: Wayne Rooney

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    MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 27:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Middlesbrough at Old Trafford on October 27, 2007 in Manchester, E
    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Everton (2002-2004) and Manchester United (2004 to present).

    One of the top English players in the Premier League over the last several seasons, Wayne Rooney has already scored over 100 goals in the Premier League before his 25th birthday as he looks to one day become the all-time highest scorer in Premier League history.

    Overall, Rooney has won three straight Premier League titles and a Champions League title with Manchester United after becoming the richest teenage transfer in history when he left Everton for Manchester.

No. 24 Dwight Yorke

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    15 Sep 1996:  Dwight Yorke of Aston Villa in action during the FA Carling Premiership match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge in London. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill/Allsport
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Premier League clubs: Aston Villa (1992-1998), Manchester United (1998-2002), Blackburn (2002-2004), Birmingham City (2004-2005) and Sunderland (2007-2009).

    The greatest Trinidadian footballer of all-time, Dwight Yorke had a major impact in the Premier League as he helped to lead Aston Villa to a League Cup and helped Manchester United claim the treble in 1999.

    Yorke also is one of the greatest strikers in league history, as he is tenth in Premier League history with 123 goals.

No. 23: Shay Given

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 11:  Shay Given of Newcastle United with the ball in his hand preparing to kick it up field during the match between Barcelona and Newcastle United in the UEFA Champions League, Second Phase, Group A match held on December 11,
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Blackburn (1996-1997), Newcastle (1997-2009) and Manchester City (2009 to present).

    A goalkeeper that has spent almost his entire career in the Premier League, Shay Given has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in league history as he continues to look to win his first league title.

    Given has helped Newcastle make the Champions League and UEFA Cup as he also has been able to remain as Ireland's starting keeper since 1996.

No. 22: John Terry

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    LONDON - NOVEMBER 01: John Terry of Chelsea in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on November 1, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Chelsea (1998 to present).

    One of the greatest defenders in Chelsea's history, John Terry has been able to help Chelsea win three Premier League titles and get to their only Champions League final.

    Terry has also participated in over 300 Premier League matches for Chelsea and will also go down as one of the greatest defenders in Premier League history at the end of his career.

No. 21: Robbie Fowler

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    16 Jan 1999:  Robbie Fowler of Liverpool celebrates a goal during the FA Carling Premiership match against Southampton at Anfield in Liverpool, England. Liverpool won the game 7-1. \ Mandatory Credit: Laurence Griffiths /Allsport
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Liverpool (1993-2002, 2005-2007), Leeds United (2001-2003), Manchester City (2002-2006) and Blackburn (2008).

    Affectionately known as "God" by Liverpool supporters, Robbie Fowler is the fourth highest goalscorer in Premier League history (with 163) and made his mark as a player who will forever be remembered for his play with Liverpool.

    Fowler was able to help Liverpool win their treble of the League Cup, FA Cup and the UEFA Cup back in 2001, and was part of the squad that were Champions League runners-up in 2007.

No. 20: Didier Drogba

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    LONDON - SEPTEMBER 17:  Didier Drogba of Chelsea celebrates as he scores the first goal during the Barclays Premiership match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on September 17, 2006 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Image
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    One of the top African footballers of all-time, Didier Drogba has left his mark as one of the top goalscorers in the history of the Premier League, as he has already won two Golden Boots.

    Drogba also has three Premier League titles, and helped Chelsea to reach their only Champions League final.

No. 19: Frank Lampard

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    MIDDLESBROUGH, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 18:  Frank Lampard of Chelsea celebrates scoring his teams fourth goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Chelsea at the Riverside Stadium on October 18, 2008 in Middlesbr
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: West Ham (1995-2001) and Chelsea (2001 to present).

    Currently fifth all-time in Premier League appearances with 470 and eighth all-time in goals with 130, Frank Lampard has certainly left his mark as one of the most consistent players to ever play in the Premier League.

    Lampard has won three Premier League titles (and has been a runner-up three times) and won three FA Cups with Chelsea.

    Along with that, Lampard scored Chelsea's lone goal in the team's 2008 Champions League final loss to Manchester United.

No. 18: David Beckham

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    2 Feb 2002:  David Beckham of United scores during the match between Manchester United and Sunderland in the FA Barclaycard Premiership at Old Trafford, Manchester. Mandatory Credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images
    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Manchester United (1993-2003).

    Arguably the most popular footballer in Premier League history, David Beckham was with Manchester United from nearly the start of the Premier League's history before leaving for Real Madrid in 2003.

    Beckham was able to win six Premier League titles with United and also won two FA Cups and a Champions League during his time with Man U.

No. 17: Ruud Van Nistelrooy

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    LYON, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 15:  Ruud van Nistelrooy of Manchester United celebrates scoring their first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Olympique Lyonnais and Manchester United at the Municipal de Garland Stadium on September 15,
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Manchester United (2001-2006).

    One of the purest goalscorers in Manchester United's history, Ruud van Nistelrooy joined the Red Devils in 2001 and never stopped scoring goals until he left for Real Madrid in 2006.

    Overall, van Nistelrooy scored 95 goals in just 150 Premier League matches, and won a Premier League and FA Cup with the Red Devils.

No. 16: Andy Cole

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    4 FEB 1995:  ANDY COLE OF MANCHESTER UNITED IN ACTION DURING A PREMIERSHIP MATCH AGAINST ASTON VILLA AT OLD TRAFFORD. COLE SCORED THE GOAL IN UNITED's 1-0 VICTORY. Mandatory Credit: Gary Prior/ALLSPORT
    Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Newcastle (1993-1995), Manchester United (1995-2001), Blackburn (2002-2004), Fulham (2004-2005), Manchester City (2005-2006), Portsmouth (2006-2007) and Sunderland (2007-2008).

    The second highest goal scorer in Premier League history, Andy Cole was able to win five Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a Champions League during his time with the Red Devils.

    Cole was able to leave his mark as a player that played for seven different Premier League squads and for missing many fantastic chances during his career.

No. 15: Tony Adams

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    16 DEC 1995:  TONY ADAMS OF ARSENAL IN ACTION DURING THE PREMIER LEAGUE MATCH BETWEEN ARSENAL AND CHELSEA PLAYED AT HIGHBURY. THE FINAL RESULT ARSENAL 1 CHELSEA 1 Mandatory Credit: Allsport/ALLSPORT
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Arsenal (1992-2002).

    One of the greatest player to ever suit up for Arsenal, Tony Adams was part of the Premier League's team of the decade and helped to make Arsenal into an English power.

    With Adams, Arsenal won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners Cup as Arsenal continued to evolve during his tenure.

No. 14: Steven Gerrard

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    LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01:Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates scoring the second goal during the Barclays Premiership match between Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers at Anfield on January 1, 2007 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnair
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Liverpool (1998 to present).

    One of the greatest footballers in Liverpool history, Steven Gerrard has been a fantastic player for Liverpool during his career.

    Gerrard has already won a Champions League and two FA Cups, but still remaining for Gerrard is that elusive Premier League title for Gerrard and Liverpool, who have not won it since 1990.

No. 13: Teddy Sheringham

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    16 Sep 2001:  Teddy Sheringham celebrates scoring a goal during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match against Chelsea played at White Hart Lane in London.  Chelsea won the match 3 - 2. \ Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill /Allsport
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Nottingham Forest (1992), Tottenham (1992-1997, 2001-2003), Manchester United (1997-2001), Portsmouth (2003-2004) and West Ham (2004-2007).

    The sixth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history, Teddy Sheringham was able to win three Premier League titles with Manchester United and of course scored the first goal in United's comeback to win the 1999 Champions League final.

    Sheringham also is the oldest goalscorer in Premier League history, and is also the oldest outfield player in league history.

No. 12: Gary Neville

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 2:  Gary Neville of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford on April 2, 2005 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Manchester United (1992 to present).

    One of the most notorious defenders in English football history, Gary Neville has played for Manchester United since the advent of the Premier League and has been known as a player that wears his emotions on his sleeve.

    Neville has been the captain of Man United since 2005, won eight Premier League medals and was named in the Premier League's team of the decade in 2003.

No. 11: David Seaman

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    12 Mar 1997:  David Seaman of Arsenal takes a goal kick during the Premier League match against Leicester City at Highbury in London, England. Arsenal won 2-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford /Allsport
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Arsenal (1992-2003) and Manchester City (2003-2004).

    One of the greatest English goalkeepers of all-time, David Seaman was able to help propel Arsenal to greatness during the ending of the 1990s and early 2000s by winning two Premier League titles for the Gunners.

    Overall, Seaman also finished first overall in the Domestic voting for Premier League goalkeeper of the decade in 2003, and his 130 clean sheets between 1993-2003 were the most in that era in the Premier League.

No. 10: Patrick Viera

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    LONDON - SEPTEMBER 13:  Patrick Vieira of Arsenal running with the ball during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Arsenal and Portsmouth on September 13, 2003 at Highbury on September 13, 2003 in London, England. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. (
    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Arsenal (1996-2005) and Manchester City (2010 to present).

    One of the best players on the Arsenal squads that were dominant at the beginning of the 2000s, Patrick Viera is one of the greatest foreign imports in the Premier League's history.

    Viera was able to win three Premier League titles with the Gunners, and his rivalry with Manchester United will forever be remembered by Arsenal and United fans.

No. 9: Roy Keane

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    12 Sep 1998:  Roy Keane of Manchester United on the ball during the FA Carling Premiership match against Coventry City at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. United won 2-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford /Allsport
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Nottingham Forest (1992-1993) and Manchester United (1993-2005).

    Arguably the greatest Irish footballer of all time, Roy Keane was known as a player who left everything on the pitch for Manchester United as the captain of the Red Devils during the turn of the century.

    Keane won seven Premier League titles for Man United, and is on the overseas Premier League team of the decade.

    Along with that, Keane was known for his rivalry with Arsenal, especially fellow midfielder Patrick Viera during the beginning of the 2000s.

No. 8: Eric Cantona

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    20 Aug 1996:  Eric Cantona of Manchester United in action during an FA Carling Premiership match against Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. \ Mandatory Credit: Clive  Brunskill/Allsport
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Manchester United (1992-1997).

    Nicknamed "King Eric" by Manchester United supporters, Eric Cantona made a lasting impact in English football as he helped to transform Manchester United into a European power.

    Overall, Cantona won four Premier League titles and was Overseas Player of the decade for the first decade of the Premier League as Cantona was the heart and soul of Manchester United during the mid-1990s.

No. 7: Dennis Bergkamp

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    3 Mar 2001:  Dennis Bergkamp of Arsenal on the ball against West Ham United during the FA Carling Premiership match at Highbury in London. Arsenal won 3-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Phil Cole /Allsport
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Arsenal (1995-2006).

    A player that will always be linked to Arsenal, Dennis Bergkamp made his mark as the greatest Dutch player in Premier League history as he helped to make Arsenal into the most dominant sides in England in the beginning of the 2000s.

    Bergkamp won three Premier League titles for Arsenal, and is ranked as the second greatest player in Arsenal's history.

No. 6: Peter Schmeichel

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    9 Aug 1998:  Peter Schmeichel of Manchester United kicks upfield during the FA Charity Shield match against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in London. Arsenal won 3-0.  \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Manchester United (1992-1999), Aston Villa (2001-2002) and Manchester City (2002-2003).

    One of the greatest goalkeepers of all-time, Peter Schmeichel was the goalkeeper during United's reign of the league during the late 1990s.

    Schmeichel also made the save of the decade against Newcastle in 1996, and won five Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a Champions League during his time with United.

No. 5: Paul Scholes

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    MANCHESTER - DECEMBER 7:  Paul Scholes of Man Utd celebrates after scoring the second goal during the Manchester United v Arsenal FA Barclaycard Premiership match at Old Trafford on December 7, 2002 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Ima
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Manchester United (1994 to present).

    One of the greatest players to play midfield for Manchester United, Paul Scholes has been a player that has left a clear mark at Old Trafford as one of the greatest passers of all time and as a player that is an incredible long-range shooter.

    Overall, Scholes has won nine Premier League titles and has won three FA Cups and two Champions League in a legendary career.

No. 4: Michael Owen

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    18 Dec 1999:  Michael Owen of Liverpool celebrates his goal during the FA Carling Premiership match against Coventry City at Anfield in Liverpool, England. Liverpool won 2-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill /Allsport
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Liverpool (1996-2004), Newcastle (2005-2009) and Manchester United (2009 to present).

    The only player of English decent to win the Ballon d'Or while playing in the Premier League, Michael Owen became a fantastic striker with Liverpool during the turn of the century as he scored 118 Premier League goals in just 216 matches.

    Owen was also named to the Premier League's team of the decade in 2003, and helped Liverpool to win a treble in 2001.

No. 3: Ryan Giggs

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    14 Apr 2001:  Ryan Giggs of Man Utd celebrates after scoring the third goal during the Manchester United v Coventry City FA Carling Premiership match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill/ALLSPORT
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Premier League Club: Manchester United (1992 to present).

    The only player to score a goal in ever Premier League season, Ryan Giggs is a Manchester United legend who has is the only player that has won 11 Premier League titles with the club.

    Giggs was named to the Premier League's team of the decade in 2003, and is the most decorated footballer in English history.

    Giggs has scored 109 goals in the Premier League in 591 matches.

No. 2: Thierry Henry

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    LONDON - APRIL 16:   Thierry Henry of Arsenal celebrates scoring Arsenal's second goal during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Arsenal and Manchester United held on April 16, 2003 at Highbury in London, England. The match ended in a 2-2 draw.
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Arsenal (1999-2007).

    Arguably the greatest player in Arsenal's history, Thierry Henry left his mark as the greatest Frenchman to ever play in the Premier League by helping to make Arsenal a power in the early 2000s.

    Henry helped to lead Arsenal to two Premier League titles, two FA Cups and Arsenal's only Champions League final.

    Henry was also named to the Premier League's team of the decade and is the third highest goalscorer in league history with 174 goals.

No. 1: Alan Shearer

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    9 Sep 2000:  Alan Shearer of Newcastle United in action during the FA Carling Premiership match against Chelsea played at St James Park, in Newcastle, England. The match ended in a 0-0 draw. \ Mandatory Credit: Tom Shaw /Allsport
    Tom Shaw/Getty Images

    Premier League Clubs: Blackburn (1992-1996) and Newcastle (1996-2006).

    The highest goalscorer in Premier League history with 260, Alan Shearer left his mark not only as one of the greatest English footballers of all-time, but the greatest player in Premier League history.

    Shearer won three Golden Boots in the mid-1990s, has the most appearances in Newcastle's history, and also won Blackburn their only Premier League title in 1994.

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