The Premier League is, arguably, the most competitive league in the world. Each year there are a handful of teams that could top the table, and competition is stiff throughout. Since forming in 1992, the Premier League has attracted the top talent from around the world to see if they can excel in this notoriously difficult association. Although it is competitive, the Premier League has only been won by five teams (Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Blackburn). This means that there are many Premier League legends that have never tasted glory at the end of the campaign.
10. Ledley King
The story of Ledley King is an unfortunate one, as many believe that he was on the path to becoming one of the all-time great center backs. Sadly, his career was marred by chronic knee problems, which severely limited his appearances. Harry Redknapp’s approach to King summarizes just what an extraordinary talent he was, as Redknapp would not have him train during the week, but insert him into the lineup (as captain) whenever King was able to play. He spent his entire career at Spurs and is a legend at the club, but it also meant that the Premier League title was always going to evade him. He did, however, captain them to victory in the Carling Cup in 2008, beating Chelsea in the final. He also helped Spurs to Champions League qualification (4th place), and lead them out for their first ever Champions League fixture at White Hart Lane.
9. Xabi Alonso
Xabi Alonso’s honors list is breathtaking, as he has won almost everything both for club and country. During his time at Liverpool, the Spanish midfielder won a Champions League trophy, a UEFA Super Cup, an FA Cup and Community Shield, but the Premier League title is one he never got his hands on. He would move on to Real Madrid where he enjoyed plenty more success, including another Champions League title and UEFA Super Cup, the La Liga title, Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana. In 2014 he moved onto Bayern Munich, and here he won the Bundesliga last season. For county, Alonso has won the World Cup and two European Championships. This makes him one of the most decorated players, but there is one very notable omission from his impressive resume. Perhaps he will make a return to the Premier League to complete his collection before retiring.
8. Robbie Keane
If you had to describe Robbie Keane in one word, prolific would be a good one. The Irish man has had a brilliant career, which has seen him find the back of the net with astonishing regularity at every club he has arrived at. Keane is currently tearing up the MLS where he has won three MLS Cups and was named both the MLS and MLS Cup MVP in 2014, but prior to this it was the Premier League which he was causing havoc in. He is 12th on the all-time Premier League top scorers list with 126 strikes, with most of these coming during two stints at Spurs. He also enjoyed spells at Wolves, Coventry, Leeds, Liverpool, West Ham and Aston Villa, but this also meant that he was never on a title contending team. Despite this, he is a Premier League legend and fan favorite around the world.
7. Matt Le Tissier
Loyalty is not too common in the modern game, as most players will at some point jump ship in a bid to try and win silverware. This was not Matt Le Tissier’s style, as he was a one-club man who spent his entire career at Southampton. Whilst this is admirable, it also drew criticism as some believe that it held back his career and made him a “big fish in a small pond.” Southampton were fighting for their lives much of his career and he never won any silverware, but he did, however, prove himself as one of the all-time great Premier League midfielders, and, of course, a pretty popular figure amongst Saints fans. In addition to his astonishing technical ability and habit of finding the back of the net, he is also one of the best penalty takers the game has seen with an incredible 47 from 48 record.
6. Les Ferdinand
Most of the players on this list did not get too close to lifting the trophy due to the clubs that they played for, but Premier League legend Les Ferdinand came agonizingly close on two occasions. In the 1995/96 season, Ferdinand and Newcastle led the pack by a whopping 12 points at one stage, but they would falter in the final stretch of the season and lose out to Manchester United. The following season, he would have to settle for runners-up medal once again as United again emerged victorious, despite Ferdinand and Alan Shearer forming a deadly strike partnership. Ferdinand, who began his career at QPR, went on to enjoy six seasons at Tottenham (where he won the League Cup), before playing for West Ham, Leicester, Bolton and then Championship sides Reading and Watford. A goal-scoring machine, “Sir Les” is eighth on the all-time scorers list with 149 strikes.
5. David Ginola
David Ginola was also a part of the Newcastle squad that twice came within touching distance of the Premier League trophy. He would then join Spurs in 1997 where he become a club favorite. The silky Frenchman was hugely popular at both Newcastle and Spurs, and this was down to his breathtaking skill, some memorable goals and his off-pitch personality. He played an integral role in Tottenham’s victorious 1999 League Cup campaign, and that year he would also win the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year award. He went on to have spells at Everton and Aston Villa, but it was clear by this point that the Premier League trophy would not be one that Ginola would get his hands on. Although he won more silverware earlier in his career in France, he is considered to be an important Premier League figure.
4. Robbie Fowler
Robbie Fowler is one of the greatest strikers that the Premier League has ever seen, and his cheeky personality and scandalous career ensure that he is one of the biggest names that the league has seen, too. He is the sixth highest scorer in Premier League history with 162 strikes, 128 of which occurred during his time at Liverpool (earning him the nickname “God” at Anfield). Fowler had two spells at Liverpool, and he would also play at Leeds, Manchester City, Cardiff and Blackburn. He is remembered as a Liverpool hero, however, and was a part of their historic 2001/02 treble winning side (League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup). He would never lift the Premier League trophy, but due to his astonishing goal-scoring ability, the treble, and a few memorable incidents and scandals, he is a Premier League icon and one of the most entertaining players to have ever played in the league.
3. Jamie Carragher
Another Liverpool great and Premier League legend never to get his hands on the ultimate prize, Jamie Carragher had an astonishing career which saw him spend 17 years at Anfield. The Liverpool native played a jaw-dropping 737 games in all competitions for Liverpool, and he was the vice-captain, heart and soul of the club for many years (plus a key part of their resilient back four). Having had such a lengthy career at a big club like Liverpool, Carragher will be frustrated not to have lifted the Premier League trophy, but he did lift his fair share of trophies over the course of his career. He was a part of the treble winning side in 2001/02, but he also won another FA Cup and two League Cups, two Community Shields, and the famous Champions League title after an incredible comeback in the final against A.C. Milan.
2. Gianfranco Zola
We are fortunate enough to witness several astonishingly creative attacking midfielders in today’s Premier League, including the likes of Eden Hazard, David Silva, Juan Mata and Philippe Coutinho. You can be sure that all of these “midfield maestros” will have been inspired by Gianfranco Zola, whose dazzling abilities made him a difficult player to dislike, regardless of where your loyalties are. The electrifying Italian spent seven years at Chelsea, where he amazed crowds, scored some stunning goals and lifted the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Supercup, two FA Cups, the League Cup and a Community Shield (he was also the FWA Player of the Year in 1997). The Premier League trophy would evade him, however, but due to his wizardry and habit of leaving crowds speechless, Zola is not just one of the greatest Chelsea players of all-time, but one of the best players to play in the Premier League.
1. Steven Gerrard
No points for guessing this one, it is yet another Liverpool great who tops the list. Like Carragher, Gerrard spent an incredible 17 seasons at Liverpool, and most of this as captain. He proved himself to be one of the finest midfielders and leaders in world football, who excelled in every area. He guided the Reds to their treble winning campaign, plus another FA Cup, two League Cups, a UEFA Cup and, of course, the famous night against A.C. Milan in the Champions League. Gerrard came agonizingly close to finally getting his hands on the Premier League trophy in the 2013/14 season, but cruelly he slipped over in a crucial match against Chelsea which essentially cost them the title. This is sure to haunt Gerrard, but it does not overshadow an illustrious and astonishing Premier League career.