As part of their celebrations of 30 years of the Premier League, the team over at BT Sport have taken a trip down memory lane to pay tribute to the cult heroes and legends of the English top flight by naming a full ‘streets won’t forget’ XI.
Over the past three decades, a number of previously unknown players have turned up, thrilled us with their brilliance, and then returned to relative obscurity. Others simply never got the credit that their considerable talent deserved.
The wider football world might have forgotten about these ballers who briefly bossed the Premier League before falling off the radar, but fans still love to reminisce about them.
With only a certain number of spots available in each position, a number of deserving candidates were always going to miss out – and fans on social media have had plenty to say about BT Sport’s selection.
Before we get into the controversial omissions, let’s take a look at the players who did make the cut.
‘Streets won’t forget XI’ – Premier League edition (via BT Sport)
Goalkeeper: Gabor Kiraly
The former Crystal Palace ‘keeper never truly got the credit he deserved for his shot-stopping ability, but his grey tracksuit bottoms are the stuff of legend.
Defence: Alex, Brede Hangeland, Maynor Figueroa
Hangeland was an absolute colossus at the back for Fulham over six seasons. The giant Norwegian was a consistent threat with his head at set pieces, too, scoring six times in the league for the Cottagers in the 2010/11 campaign.
We can’t argue too much with the inclusions of Alex or Figueroa. Both men could strike a fearsome free-kick, with Figueroa’s quickly taken effort from inside his own half for Wigan at Stoke still ranking as one of the Premier League’s most audacious goals.
Midfield: Hatem Ben Arfa, Adel Taarabt, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Lauren Robert, Geovanni
A quintet of ridiculously skillful wide players squeezed into a five across the middle formation.
No ‘streets won’t forget’ team would be complete without Ben Arfa, although him being stationed on the left wing rather than the right where he caused so much havoc for Newcastle in the 2011/12 season doesn’t sit quite right.
Taarabt is most remembered for his outstanding 2010/11 season at QPR.
However, the Hoops were in the Championship that year and we’re not convinced that his patchy Premier League form justifies a place in this side, especially when the likes of Yannick Bolasie and Dimitri Payet don’t get a look in.
Left-winger Robert being dropped in on the right side of central midfield is another head-scratcher, despite places in the XI being at a premium.
Strikers: Michu, Papiss Cisse
You’ll find no arguments for us about this pairing up top.
Cisse went on a tear in the second half of the 2011/12 season that almost bagged Newcastle a Champions League spot.
He did it in style, too, scoring one of the competition’s greatest ever goals at Chelsea.
If Michu wasn’t included in this XI, then something would have gone very wrong.
The unheralded Spaniard rocked up at the Liberty Stadium in a £2.3m switch at the start of the 2012/13 campaign and promptly bagged 18 goals in 35 Premier League games for the Swans.
Injury struck in his second season at the club and he only scored another two top-flight goals for the club before departing in 2015.
BT Sport didn’t go as far as to name a substitutes bench but, as always, supporters on Twitter have been quick to champion those who they feel were unfairly overlooked.
“Imagine not having [Yannick] Bolasie in this,” declared a first response.”
“Justice for Ali Al Habsi,” insisted a second fan, advocating for the former Bolton and Wigan ‘keeper.
“I don’t think the streets would be sticking Gamst in the middle,” suggested a further reply, pointing out the unbalanced nature of the midfield.
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“[Roque] Santa Cruz absolutely robbed,” insisted a fan championing Blackburn’s former Paraguayan striker, who was dynamite for Rovers in 2007/08.
“How Jay-Jay Okocha wasn’t the first name on the team sheet, I’ll never know,” exclaimed a backer of the Nigerian playmaker.
Elsewhere, one confused fan demanded to know: “Where tf is Payet?”
A final comment summed up the general mood in the replies, stating: “This ain’t it, chief!”
A pretty bizarre XI, packed full of players who never got their due, but there’s certainly a lot of room for debate on the subject.
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