The Premier League has been such a global success partly because of the world-class foreign players who have helped light up English football’s top division since 1992.
Imagine the Premier League without the likes of Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dennis Bergkamp, Gianfranco Zola, Peter Schmeichel, Sergio Aguero - you get the point, the list is endless.
It wouldn’t have been anywhere near as fun, exciting or entertaining. A league full of just English players doesn’t bear thinking about.
However, there are football fans who strongly believe that Premier League teams should be made to include a certain number of English players in their match-day squads.
Many fear the number of foreign players has hindered the development of talented English youngsters down the years and, as a result, England have under-performed at the majority of major tournaments since the Premier League’s inception 27 years ago.
Remarkably, it’s now 20 years to the day since the last time a Premier League team played a game with a fully English starting XI.
Per Opta, you need to go right back to February 27, 1999.
Aston Villa, managed by John Gregory, were the team in question and their line-up that afternoon was as follows: Michael Oakes, Steve Watson, Gareth Southgate, Dion Dublin, Simon Grayson, Ricardo Scimeca, Alan Wright, Lee Hendrie, Paul Merson, Ian Taylor and Julian Joachim.
Villa’s three subs that day - Mark Draper, Gareth Barry and Stan Collymore - were also English.
However, all-English Villa slumped to a 4-1 defeat at home to Gordon Strachan’s Coventry, with braces from Dutchman George Boateng and Australian John Aloisi sealing all three points for the visitors.
No wonder no manager has been brave enough to deploy an all-English XI in the Premier League since.
How close have we come since then?
Well, in May 2006, Middlesbrough named a starting XI that contained 11 players who were of English nationality at the time against Fulham.
However, James Morrison has since played for Scotland, so that match is null and void with Opta’s statisticians.
We’ve never seen a Premier League match in which all 22 players in the two starting line-ups are English.
The closest we came was in January 1994, when Queens Park Rangers and Newcastle United fielded 21 between them.
QPR’s Welsh goalkeeper Tony Roberts was the only non-English player on show that afternoon.
As for the teams that have named the most Premier League starting XIs with no Englishmen, Arsenal lead the way.
They’ve named 173(!) line-ups with not a single English player.
Manchester United, on the other hand, have only done it once - and even then Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes came off the bench as substitutes.News Now - Sport News