Premier League: The 10 greatest ever players from clubs outside top six have been ranked

  • Rob Swan
Leicester City v Everton - Premier League

When discussing the best players in Premier League history, it’s natural to gravitate towards those stars who shone bright at the biggest clubs.

Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez, Patrick Vieira, Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs, Didier Drogba… the list of former and current great players from the ‘top six’ goes on and on.

But what about the players from those clubs outside the current top six big clubs?

In their latest ‘Top 10’ series, Match of the Day have ranked the 10 greatest ever players from the less fashionable Premier League clubs.

A shortlist was created by producers before the discussion – and it was down to Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker to put them in order.

First of all, let’s take a closer look at the 10 contenders:

David Batty

Industrious midfielder who played for Leeds United, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and Leeds United.

Missed a crucial penalty for England in the 1998 World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

David Batty and John Hartson

Tim Cahill

Australian attacking midfielder best known for his eight-year spell with Everton, where he scored 68 goals in 278 games.

Everton v Fulham - Premier League

Paolo Di Canio

Gifted Italian toward who starred for Sheffield United and West Ham in the late-1990s and early-2000s.

Charlton v West Ham

Matt Le Tissier

The scorer of some of the greatest goals in early Premier League history, Matt Le Tissier is Southampton’s best ever player.

Soton V Mansfield X

Jay-Jay Okocha

Outrageously skilful Nigerian attacking midfielder who lit up the Premier League with Bolton between 2002-2006.

Liverpool v Bolton Wanderers

Juninho Paulista

Diminutive Brazilian who starred for Middlesbrough during three separate spells with the north-east outfit.

Middlesbrough v Fulham

Kevin Phillips

Winner of the Premier League Golden Boot award in 1999-00 after scoring 30 goals in 36 games for Sunderland that season.

Kevin Phillips of Sunderland

Gareth Southgate

The current England manager was a reliable central defender who played for Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.

Villa v Newcastle

Gary Speed

Hard-working midfielder who played Premier League football with Leeds, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton.

Leicester City v Newcastle United

Jamie Vardy

Live-wire striker who played a huge part in Leicester City’s remarkable 2015-16 Premier League title triumph.

Leicester City v Everton - Premier League

Alan Shearer

Right, let’s see Alan Shearer’s top 10…

Alan Shearer of Newcastle United celebrates scoring the first goal with team-mate Gary Speed

10. Jay-Jay Okocha

9. Juninho

8. Tim Cahill

7. Kevin Phillips

6. Paolo Di Canio

5. David Batty

4. Gareth Southgate

3. Jamie Vardy

2. Matt Le Tissier

1. Gary Speed

Gary Speed, who tragically died in 2011, makes the No. 1 spot in Shearer’s rankings.

Shearer played alongside the Welshman at Newcastle and the two men were close friends.

Ian Wright

And now for Ian Wright’s top 10…

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10. Jay-Jay Okocha

9. Juninho

8. Gareth Southgate

7. David Batty

6. Tim Cahill

5. Paolo Di Canio

4. Kevin Phillips

3. Gary Speed

2. Matt Le Tissier

1. Jamie Vardy

Ian Wright has gone for Vardy in pole position, ahead of Matt Le Tissier and speed.

Vardy has scored 99 Premier League goals so far during his career.

Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker got the deciding vote – and here’s his top three…

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3. Matt Le Tissier

2. Gary Speed

1. Jamie Vardy

It’s worth noting that Lineker is a Leicester fan, which may have swayed his decision to put Vardy in top spot.

Then again, it could certainly be argued that Vardy is the greatest of all 10 players because of everything he’s achieved in recent years.


A late bloomer, the 33-year-old deserves to be remembered as one of the best Premier League strikers of his time.

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