The ’90s was an era peppered with footballing legends and cult heroes.
Here we look back at 10 memorable ’90s stars who generated plenty of headlines in the golden years of the Premier League…
Cult ’90s Premier League Players Who’ll Never be Forgotten
A bright light that, in retrospect, was always destined to burn out early. However, his five years in English football. While his career will inevitably be remembered for that infamous moment of madness in 1995, Cantona was arguably the Premier League’s original superstar. A four-time Premier League winner, the Frenchman even bowed out in a blaze of glory, retiring at just 30 after playing 50 games in 1996/97. A true one-off.
If Cantona brought spark to the Premier League, the laid-back Zola dazzled us with his grace. One of the first genuine superstars from across the continent to chance his arm in the English game, the diminutive Italian adapted with ease to life in West London. Sir Alex Ferguson would perfectly sum him up as ‘a clever little so-and-so’. Voted as Chelsea’s best ever player in 2003, he would score 80 goals in England before returning to his native Sardinia with Cagliari.
From the sublime to the simply hard-as-nails. Dicks won’t go down as the most gifted player to ply his trade on the Premier League, but he was amongst the most terrifying. Fittingly given the nickname ‘The Terminator’ for his no-nonsense approach to the game, Dicks would be named West Ham’s player of the year four times between 1990 and 1997. The Hammers legend was also a mean set-piece specialist, finding the net 55 times during his career despite being a defender.
The ‘Little Fella’ who briefly let Middlesbrough dream of the big time. Juninho arrived on Teesside in 1995 in a major coup for the club, quickly emerging as a fans’ favourite. The Brazilian magician would score 15 goals in 69 appearances during his first spell with the club. Juninho permanently won a place in Boro fans’ hearts after breaking down in tears when the club was relegated in 1997. He would return for two more stints at the Riverside and remains an idol in the north-east.
Adding some significant kudos to this countdown is former Swedish international, Tomas Brolin. After a trophy-laden career with Parma, Leeds fan could be forgiven for being excited when Brolin rocked up at Elland Road in 1996. However, Brolin struggled to shake off issues with his weight throughout his time in West Yorkshire and was quickly frozen out of the side. Widely regarded as one of the club’s worst ever signings, he nevertheless remains one of the more memorable cult figures of 90s football.
Arguably one of Georgia’s finest ever exports to English football, Ketsbaia certainly brought bucketloads of personality to the Premier League. The former Newcastle man is responsible for one of the most famous goal celebrations of all time, removing his shirt and kicking the advertising boards after scoring against Bolton. A maverick until the end, he remains a popular figure at the club.
Our second entry from the Toon. Asprilla arrived at St James’ Park in the middle of a snowstorm in 1996 in a fur coat. That fashion statement ideally sums up Tino’s time on Tynside, where he was capable of being outrageous both on and off the pitch. His time at the club was frustratingly inconsistent, but he would shine in one of their most famous European nights. The Colombian popped up with a hat-trick as Newcastle beat Barcelona 3-2 in the 1997/98 Champions League.
‘Keepers – they don’t make ‘em like they used to. Southall is a case in point. His record as one of the best top-flight goalkeepers of all time is not in doubt. The Welshman played over 700 times for Everton, including six seasons in the Premier League. Still one of the best shot-stoppers of all time, not many strikers got past the fearless Toffees human shield in a one-on-one situation.
Matt Le Tissier
The ultimate Premier League one-club man. Le Tiss was – and remains – Mr Southampton. 16 years, 443 appearances and 161 goals make him the club’s undisputed all-time great. Just eight England caps perhaps hint at what might have been if ‘Le God’ had taken on a challenge at a bigger club. However, isn’t it sometimes better to be that big fish in a small pond? In truth, his languid playing style suggests he was a man born at just the right time. Le Tiss was perfect for the ’90s era before sports science and brutal fitness regimes became the order of the day. A joy to watch at his peak.
And finally, no ’90s countdown could be complete without a nod to football hardman and latter-day Hollywood star, Jones. A central figure in Wimbledon’s famous ‘Crazy Gang’, Jones could terrorise Premier League show ponies with little more than a hard-nosed stare. Sent off 12 times in his career, the Welshman also boasts the proud record of the fastest ever booking in English football. Jones chopped down Dane Whitehouse after just three seconds in 1992. Blink and you’d have missed it.
90s Premier League Players | Top 10
- Eric Cantona
- Gianfranco Zola
- Julian Dicks
- Matt Le Tissier
- Neville Southall
- Temuri Ketsbaia
- Tino Asprilla
- Tomas Brolin
- Vinnie Jones
Who is your favourite 90s footballer?
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