When it comes to the English Premier League, certain players are rightly heralded as the greatest of all time. Strikers like Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo rub shoulders with the likes of Arsenal’s Thierry Henry or Manchester United’s Peter Schmeichel as some of the best players the sport has ever seen. Today, though, we want to celebrate some of the players that might have slipped through the net, so to speak. With that in mind, here are 10 massively underrated Premier League players throughout history. You may not know who they are, but you should.
1. Glen Johnson
You might not hear Glen Johnson’s name on a lot of underrated player lists, and that’s partly because he’s one of the few players on this list who does get his due. However, as a right-back, Johnson played some absolute blinders for five different Premier League teams, and he deserves a lot more credit than he gets for that. These days, Johnson is also a successful pundit, lending his expertise to platforms like Betway and predicting where the Premier League will end up next.
2. Richard Dunne
Again, Richard Dunne is a four-time winner of Manchester City’s Player of the Year award (and he won those awards across consecutive years, too), but it feels like he doesn’t get the love he should. Some of that might be because he also holds another rather embarrassing record: he’s the player who has scored the most own goals in the history of the Premier League, having scored ten across his career. Still, that hasn’t stopped him from teaming up with Johnson for some impressive punditry.
3. Marcus Rashford
Maybe getting called up to the England squad doesn’t qualify you to be an underrated player, but there’s a lot of criticism floating around regarding Marcus Rashford that he doesn’t deserve. He’s a spectacular striker, and while he may not be able to match the likes of Harry Kane in the all-time greats category, very few can. Rashford is also a hero for his efforts off the pitch, famed for his campaign to battle child poverty (a rising problem in the UK).
4. Tim Cahill
Australians often aren’t graced with proper credit when they come to the English Premier League to play football, and if there was any justice in the world, Tim Cahill would change all that. He managed to score 56 goals across 226 matches, which is rather impressive. Cahill is best known for his ability to wallop the ball in the air; his aerial acrobatics have led to a reputation for showmanship that feels earned, so let’s recognise Cahill for the great player he is.
5. Brad Friedel
Best-known for his tenure with Tottenham Hotspur, Brad Friedel currently boasts the joint seventh most clean sheets in Premier League history, an honour he shares with fellow keepers Tim Howard and Edwin van der Sar (so you can consider them entries on this list as well). Friedel is an American, which might be why he doesn’t get his due in the Premier League; it’s a misconception that the US doesn’t play “soccer”, as they’d call it, and Friedel is proof of that.
6. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
The problem with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was that he played for Chelsea, one of the greatest English Premier League teams of all time. Because of that, many pundits and fans perennially underrated his skills, as he was often playing alongside much louder and flashier living legends. Hasselbaink’s style, though, was quiet and graceful, and he was an incredible striker whose prowess on the pitch should be remembered alongside the pantheon of his club.
7. Ricardo Carvalho
Another Chelsea player who is unfairly overlooked, Ricardo Carvalho was the beating heart of Chelsea’s defence in their legendary 2004-05 season (which is often considered one of the greatest footballing seasons of all time for any club). Carvalho was a wall of a defender who rarely let challenges go unpunished and who must have struck fear into the hearts of even the most stalwart strikers. If you want to see great defending football in action, look no further than Carvalho.
8. Gareth Southgate
Alright, let’s get one thing out of the way. Yes, Gareth Southgate’s penalty miss against Germany back in 1996 was painful. So was a lot of David Beckham’s behaviour throughout his career, but people don’t overlook him when it comes to the greats. Gareth Southgate was an excellent defending midfielder who managed to shore up the strength of any team he played for. He’s also been a great manager for the England squad, returning it to its former glory after years of mockery.
9. Emile Heskey
While boy wonder Michael Owen was winning hearts at Liverpool, Emile Heskey was quietly doing what he’s always known how to do: winning games. Heskey was a staggeringly reliable player whose tenure at Liverpool is one of the greatest of all time, yet he’s never mentioned in the same breath as his peers. Heskey’s time with Leicester City, where he saw the club rocket to Premier League glory and qualify for the UEFA Cup, shouldn’t be overlooked either.
10. Andrew Cole
As part of 1999’s infamous Manchester United side, Andrew Cole managed to win the treble, which is a feat few teams have repeated since. Cole is never mentioned alongside other legendary Manchester United strikers like Ruud van Nistelrooy or Cristiano Ronaldo, but he should be, because his level of attacking play and excellent footballing chemistry with Dwight Yorke mean that he shouldn’t be ignored. Next time you’re thinking about great players, don’t miss out Andy Cole.