Robin Van Persie ruined his chance of becoming a club legend at the Emirates Stadium when he left Arsenal for Manchester United in the summer transfer window.
After a number of seasons affected by injury, the Dutchman had begun to endear himself to the supporters in a way few others have before. An acrimonious exit to a rival club in the Premier League completely tarnished his reputation with the Gunners.
But what defines a club legend? Is it the amount of time they spend with the club, the number of goals scored or saves made, or perhaps the impact they have whilst playing for a particular team.
In the majority of cases, it’s all of these factors and more, with the relationship with the fans also key. You don’t always have to be the best player in a side to become a club legend either – often it’s effort and showmanship which can prove crucial to the supporters who pay their money to watch the game.
With all that in mind, GMF looks at the players who have earned their place as a club legend at the Premier League’s biggest clubs over the last two decades...
Arsenal – Tony Adams, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp
Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams began his career almost a decade before the Premier League era, but would continue to wear the armband at Highbury until 2002, claiming titles in 1997/98 and 2001/02 before hanging up his boots as a one-club man.
Thierry Henry had spells with AS Monaco and Juventus before moving to north London, where he spent eight years under Arsene Wenger and became the club’s all-time record goalscorer. A loan return in January this year cemented his place as a legend.
Dutch maestro Dennis Bergkamp moved to Arsenal from Inter Milan, having also spent seven years at boyhood club Ajax. However, he made his new home in the English capital, competing as a Gunner for 11 years and winning the hearts of many with some amazing skills and goals.
Chelsea – Gianfranco Zola, John Terry
After spending over a decade in Italy, Zola moved to Stamford Bridge in 1996 and would go on to spend seven years in west London. During that time, the little maestro helped the Blues to FA Cup, League Cup and European glory, but is best remembered for his magical feet and wonderful goals.
John Terry made his first senior appearance for Chelsea in 1998, and has since gone on to become a club legend with his heart-and-soul performances. Willing to put his body on the line for the team, Terry has also captained the club in their most successful period ever.
Liverpool – Steven Gerrard, Robbie Fowler
After making his debut in 1998, Steven Gerrard has gradually built his reputation on some incredible midfield performances, taking the armband under a host of different managers and inspiring Liverpool to numerous cup wins. After rejecting the chance to sign for Chelsea in 2003, his place is firmly held in the heart of Reds fans.
Robbie Fowler’s eight years at Anfield were quite exceptional, earning the nickname of ‘God’ on Merseyside with 120 goals in 236 Premier League appearances. A return between 2005 and 2007 helped remind Reds fans of his ability, and he remains to this day a true hero at the club.
Manchester City – Georgi Kinkladze
Georgian playmaker Georgi Kinkladze was a magician during three seasons at Maine Road, producing memorable goals and mazy runs to send the fans into raptures throughout his spell at the club.
Manchester United – Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Roy Keane
In a period of huge success at Old Trafford, Ryan Giggs has been a constant for the Red Devils, scoring in all 20 Premier League seasons. With dazzling runs, great goals and incredible longevity, Giggs has inspired a generation and is the greatest of Premier League legends.
Rarely does a player make such an impact when joining a club, but Cristiano Ronaldo was an inspiration when he arrived at Manchester United in the same summer that David Beckham left for Real Madrid. In six seasons, he scored 84 goals in 196 Premier League appearances, with free-kicks, individual runs and headed goals all thrown into the mix.
Is it Roy Keane or Paul Scholes? The Irishman gets the nod for his leadership qualities at Old Trafford, spending 12 seasons under Sir Alex Ferguson after a 1993 move from Nottingham Forest. Seven Premier League, four FA Cup and one Champions League trophy later, Keane left a legend.
Tottenham Hotspur – Ledley King, Jurgen Klinsmann
Having started his career in 1999, King threatened to be one of the finest defenders in English football, before a series of injuries curtailed his progress at White Hart Lane. Forced to retire last week, the centre back spent 13 years at Spurs and is now an ambassador.
Jurgen Klinsmann only spent one full season with the club, but his goals and style of play transformed the club in 1994/95 and his spell remains one of the great moments in the club’s history.
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