Ronaldo, Henry, De Bruyne: The greatest Premier League XI of all time

  • Kobe Tong

The Premier League is the greatest league in the world.

Littered with world-class quality across its 29-year existence, it seems apt that England’s top-flight is now looking to reward some of its greatest ever players with their new Hall of Fame initiative.

First unveiled in 2020, the Premier League‘s award was side-swiped by the global situation, only for an announcement on Sunday to reveal that the first inductees will be revealed next week.

Premier League Hall of Fame

An official statement explained: “The Premier League has confirmed it will launch its official Hall of Fame on Monday 19 April.

“The Premier League Hall of Fame will recognise and celebrate the exceptional skill and talent of players who have graced the competition since its inception in 1992.

“Entry to the Hall of Fame will be the highest individual honour awarded to players by the League.”

Premier League legends

And while we wait with anticipation for the first Hall of Fame inductees, we thought it was the perfect excuse here at GIVEMESPORT to look back on Premier League icons ourselves.

In fact, we’ve gone as far as putting our necks on the line by drawing up the greatest Premier League XI of all time, which, in many ways, should line up with the Hall of Fame in our eyes.

Now, it goes without saying that the sheer amount of world-class players to have graced the Premier League over the years made this an incredibly tough ask.

To make things a little easier we followed the lead of the Hall of Fame by putting an emphasis on overall Premier League provenance as well as the players’ footballing quality in their prime years.


The greatest Premier League XI of all time

As such, we’re out to reward Premier League legacy as much as we are sheer footballing ability and yes, we will only be considering the players’ performance in England’s top-flight in our choices.

Though, unlike the Hall of Fame, contemporary players are available for selection… so, yes, the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Sergio Aguero are absolutely in the running to be chosen.

But those disclaimers aside, it’s simply our opinion and therefore, no more valuable or correct than your own, which we’d be fascinated to hear about too. First, though, check out ours down below:


GK: Petr Cech (Chelsea and Arsenal)

With the most clean sheets in Premier League history and the mastermind behind the greatest defence the competition has ever seen, Cech gets the nod over Peter Schmeichel by a nose hair.

Yes, Schmeichel won more Premier League titles and yes, he was arguably the better shot-stopper, but I’d happily sit here and argue that Cech bowed out with a bigger impact on the competition.


RB: Gary Neville (Manchester United)

Pretty uncontroversial, this, but United’s serial winner at right-back was a defensive juggernaut and underrated going forward. No, Liverpool fans, Trent Alexander-Arnold doesn’t come close just yet…

CB: John Terry (Chelsea)

Like Cech, Terry was invaluable to the 2004/05 Chelsea side that conceded just 15 goals, earning a Ballon d’Or nod for arguably the greatest ever Premier League season for a defence.

And even in the twilight years of his career, Terry was still able to play every single minute of the 2014/15 campaign in which the Englishman bagged the fourth Premier League title of his career.


CB: Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)

The only defender to win the Premier League Player of the Season award twice, the division has never seen a warrior quite like Vidic, leading the Red Devils to five league titles in seven seasons.

LB: Ashley Cole (Arsenal and Chelsea)

I don’t think anyone is arguing with me here. A Premier League winner in an ‘Invincibles’ team and the first-ever 100-goal side, Cole was the best left-back in the world during his peak years.

RM: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Ok, yes, I couldn’t resist ripping up the provenance rule for at least one player because seldom has a player made quite such an indelible impact on the Premier League like Ronaldo.

We might have only seen his world-beating form in short bursts, but setting a new goal-scoring record for a 38-game season and bagging the Ballon d’Or in 2008 was simply unforgettable.


CM: Frank Lampard (West Ham United, Chelsea and Manchester City)

To be the Premier League’s fifth-most prolific goalscorer of all time from midfield is nothing short of staggering, never mind winning the title three times and racking up 102 assists on the side.

CM: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

I’m going to get slaughtered, aren’t I? Ok, ok, before you all crucify me for not picking Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes, hear me out for a second because I genuinely stand by this decision.

And yes, I’m staying true to my provenance argument to boot because lest we forget that De Bruyne was the beating heart of the greatest Premier League team ever: Manchester City’s centurions.

Combine that with a record-equalling number of assists in a frankly average City season as well as passing quality that more than matches Gerrard and Scholes – and I whole-heartedly believe that he deserves his place.


LM: Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)

Believe it or not, there are plenty of fans who think Giggs is overrated, but we didn’t have it in us to jettison the Premier League’s most decorated player ever. Oh, and he also holds the assist record.

ST: Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

Simply put, Henry is the greatest player to ever set foot in the Premier League, winning a record number of Golden Boots and inspiring Arsenal to the competition’s only ever ‘invincible’ season.

ST: Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United)

You can’t have the greatest XI in Premier League history without its greatest-ever goalscorer leading the line and it remains to be seen whether Shearer’s tally of 260 strikes will ever be beaten.


Inevitable controversy

Please don’t hate us…

Ok, jokes aside, I’m sure we’ve ruffled a few feathers by leaving out players such as Scholes, Schmeichel and Gerrard – and no I’m not a closet Manchester City fan with a De Bruyne shrine.

However, away from those incredibly tough decisions, I like to think there are some inarguable picks here because I’d die on a hill claiming that Henry and Shearer should always be the front two.


And even if you don’t think that I’ve made the right choices here, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that this Premier League XI would win every game in a season if they played together in their prime.

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