The Scot was speaking in the wake of his side’s 6-1 demolition of Brighton and Hove Albion in the FA Cup at Anfield, where the three were able to start in the same team for the first time.
“The more any team gets iconic players like they are on the pitch, the better chance they have of being successful,” he said to reporters.
Labelling a player as such can be difficult to disprove because of the objective nature of the decision making, but surely only one of those three can even begin to be considered worth of the title (I’ll let you guess who that is).
Except in its literal definition relating to religious icons, or in terms of semiotics, anyone can claim one of these three to be iconic, though an injection of realism would suggest a person should only achieve such an accolade after a period of sustained excellence at least.
For this reason it is important to establish a definition from which to project the criteria that must be met to warrant a place on such hallowed lists as GMF’s Five Football Icons.
An icon must have achieved sustained success over a prolonged period, though this can be side-stepped due to their cultural significance or the effect their presence has on the players/fans/club around them.
Due to there being only limited space on the Internet, the nominees will be restricted to the Premier League era and they cannot solely be icons for their national side, as we could literally be listing players all week if that were the case.
Ok, here goes…
Thierry Henry, Arsenal 1999-2007 & 2012
The French striker is considered by many as the greatest foreign player to have played in England and his 229 goals for Arsenal will no doubt have done something towards that.
Henry’s pace and skill were indicative of the changing face of the Premier League and epitomised the attributes that would make it the most successful league in Europe over most of the early ‘Noughties’.
Gianfranco Zola, Chelsea 1996- 2003
The little Italian may not be the most decorated Chelsea player during this time, but his influence on the Premier League and English football in general cannot be underestimated.
He opened the eyes of many to what can be achieved in a league that was overwhelmed by physicality despite being such a diminutive figure. His free-kick accuracy and numerous goals scored with sublime pieces of skill, made him one of the most liked players in England.
He may have paid for his stint over here with limited opportunities in the Italy national team, but he did become the smiling face of a generation of Chelsea fans.
Steven Gerrard, Liverpool 1998-present
Ok, Kenny probably has this one right. Gerrard has become the undoubted talisman of the most successful Liverpool side since the all-conquering teams of the late 70s and 80s.
Dragging his team back from the dead in Istanbul to stage one of the most incredible European cup comebacks of all time, last minute heroics in the FA Cup to take it to extra-time and countless winning goals in front of the Kop.
He is still going but will be, without doubt, regarded as one of the greatest players ever to have played for Liverpool.
Ryan Giggs, Manchester United 1991-present
The Welsh winger could arguably be called the face of the Premier League, as he has played and scored in every one of its seasons. Memorable moments include his sensational solo goal in an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Villa Park and making more United appearances than any other player.
Giggs has continued to make himself relevant, despite his age and the loss of the blistering speed he used to leave defenders in his wake with.
He is the most decorated player in English football history, which says it all really.
David Beckham, Manchester United 1992-2003
This may be a contentious choice but the importance of David Beckham to the modern game greater than many may realise. He was the model-like face of football in this country for so long while he played here and became a zeitgeist to an era of growing metrosexuality.
Let us not forget that he won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a Champions League, so his efforts on the pitch are by no means outshone by his celebrity outside of the sport.
In a time of booming consumerism, Beckham did no less than anyone else to bring football into the mainstream and make it the family hobby it has become in the Premier League era.
There we have it, five if the most prominent Premier League Icons. GMF stresses that this list is by no means exhaustive and there are many others who can be included and considered.
That is where you, dear reader, come in – comment below on who you think should be added to the list or who should be removed.
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