Cantona, Shearer, Keane: Who was the PL's greatest player of the 1990s?

The 1990s was a golden era for English football.

In 1992, the lucrative Premier League was created and the country’s top-tier quickly became the envy of the sporting world.

Some of the best players on the planet flocked to English shores, while a number of homegrown talents thrived in front of the television cameras.

But who was the greatest Premier League footballer of the 1990s?

The folks over at FourFourTwo gave their answers to that question and unsurprisingly, there were a plethora of Manchester United legends included.

So, let’s get all nostalgic and take a trip down memory lane…

The Premier League trophy
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JULY 22: The Premier League Trophy is dressed in Liverpool Red Ribbons ready for the presentation ceremony ahead of the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield on July 22, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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The 16 greatest Premier League players of the 1990s

16. Gary Speed (Leeds, Everton & Newcastle)

The versatile Welshman played more games than anyone else in the first 10 years of the Premier League. Speed scored an impressive 80 goals in the ’90s and was also named in the 1992/93 PFA Team of the Year.

15. Gary Pallister (Man Utd & Middlesbrough)

Pallister was key to United’s success in the ’90s. The centre-back won four Premier League titles and was named in the PFA Team of the Year on the same number of occasions. A player who is seriously underrated in the present day.

14. Patrick Vieira (Arsenal)

Vieira’s best years at Arsenal came in the 2000s, but he was still a force to be reckoned with the previous decade. The Frenchman was part of the Gunners’ double-winning side in 1997/98 and earned a spot in the PFA Team of the Year the following season.

13. David Beckham (Man Utd)

Beckham really was a fabulous footballer. His performances during United’s famous 1998/99 treble-winning season saw him finish second for the 1999 FIFA World Player of the Year award. Beckham scooped the PFA Young Player of the Year award in 1996/97 and his strike from the halfway line against Wimbledon in ’96 was named the ‘Goal of the Decade’.

David Beckham celebrates scoring a goal for Man Utd
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – AUGUST 17: Manchester United player David Beckham celebrates after scoring the third goal with a spectacular effort from the halfway line, during the Premier League match between Wimbledon and Manchester United at Selhurst Park on August 17, 1996 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Cooper/Allsport/Getty Images)

12. Tony Adams (Arsenal)

Adams is the highest-ranked defender on the list – and rightly so. The Englishman held Arsenal’s defence together in the ’90s and was one of the main reasons why Arsene Wenger enjoyed success during his early years in north London.

11. David Ginola (Newcastle & Tottenham)

We’ll put into context just how good Ginola was. In 1998/99, when United won an unprecedented treble, the Frenchman was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year while playing for a Tottenham side that finished 10th. Do we really need to say anymore?

10. Matt Le Tissier (Southampton)

Le Tiss was a true one-club man. He was so brilliant that he could have played for any Premier League team, but decided to remain loyal to his beloved Southampton. The attacking midfielder was surprisingly only included in the PFA Team of the Year once, in 1994/95.

9. Robbie Fowler (Liverpool)

You don’t earn the nickname ‘God’ without being a seriously good footballer. Fowler was electric as a youngster in the ’90s at Liverpool and even scored a four-minute hat-trick against Arsenal in ’94 at the age of just 19.

Robbie Fowler in action for Liverpool
19 Sep 1998: Robbie Fowler of Liverpool in action during the FA Carling Premiership match against Charlton at Anfield in Liverpool, England. The game ended in a draw. Robbie Fowler scored two goal on his return match against Charlton. \ Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford /Allsport

8. Gianfranco Zola (Chelsea)

One of football’s nice guys and a bona fide legend of the sport. Zola is in the mix to be labelled Chelsea’s greatest ever player and was named FWA Footballer of the Year in 1997 following his debut season at Stamford Bridge. The man could do things with a football that mere mortals wouldn’t even dare attempt.

7. Peter Schmeichel (Man Utd)

Probably the best goalkeeper the Premier League has ever seen. Schmeichel was United’s world-class wall for many years and helped them dominate English football in the 90s. We’re still trying to work out how 1992/93 was the only time he was named in the PFA Team of the Year, though…

6. Ian Wright (Arsenal & West Ham)

Wright’s Premier League goal record speaks for itself. The man who was 25 when he made his top-flight debut scored 113 goals in 213 games, with 104 of those coming in his famous spell at Arsenal. Wright was the Gunners’ record scorer until Thierry Henry came along.

5. Ryan Giggs (Man Utd)

Giggs was an out-and-out winger in the ’90s – and it was glorious to watch. Opposing full-backs just couldn’t live with him, plus his output in terms of a goals and assists was fantastic. At the Premier League 20 Seasons Awards, Giggs was named ‘Best Player’, a fitting reward for a phenomenal footballer.

Ryan Giggs celebrates a goal for Man Utd
8 Apr 1996: Ryan Giggs of Manchester United celebrates during an FA Carling Premiership match against Manchester City at Maine Road in Manchester, England. Manchester United won the match 3-2. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill/Allsport

4. Roy Keane (Nottingham Forest & Man Utd)

Keane is deservedly the highest-ranked midfielder on the list. As captains go, few in history are on a par with the Irishman. Keane was so magnificent at Forest that he was named in the 1992/93 PFA Team of the Year, when the club finished rock bottom. At United, he was even better, a man who led by example, scared the living daylights out of the opposition and scored crucial goals.

3. Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal)

Has a footballer ever possessed a better first touch than Bergkamp? We can’t think of one. The Dutchman always seemed to have time on the ball, such was his quality. Bergkamp made the game look beautiful and his heroics in Arsenal’s 1997/98 double-winning campaign saw him named both PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year.

2. Alan Shearer (Blackburn & Newcastle)

The Premier League’s greatest ever goalscorer was simply incredible in the ’90s. His goals fired Blackburn to the title in 1994/95 and helped Newcastle mount title challenges in the following two seasons. He also won the Golden Boot in each of those three campaigns, which is an astonishing achievement. They don’t make strikers quite like Shearer anymore.

  1. Eric Cantona (Leeds & Man Utd)

Who else was it gonna be, eh? Cantona proved to be the catalyst for United’s era of dominance. Sure, there was lots of controversy to go with him, but what the French maverick produced on the pitch was the work of a true artist. Cantona was inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame last year and was also previously named in the PFA Team of the Century (1907-2007).

Eric Cantona in action with Man Utd

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