Is Liverpool’s Gerrard the best player never to have won Premier League?
Is Steven Gerrard the greatest player never to have won the Premier League? Alex Rea looks at five contenders for the title
Having just signed a new two-year contract at Liverpool, the ultimate one-club man Steven Gerrard will be the first name on any list of legends who have failed to win the Premier League title. Arguably one of the most complete midfielders to grace the English top flight, it is a genuine shame that – as of yet anyway – Gerrard has failed to win the title. The combative England international has of course tasted European success after guiding the Reds to Champions League glory in 2005. However, Gerrard did come within inches of getting his hands on the title in the 2008/09 campaign as Liverpool finished runners-up to Manchester United, but that’s the closest the Anfield man has got. Time is certainly running out for the Liverpool stalwart to join the long list of Anfield greats that have managed a top-flight title and every Kopite will be hoping it’s before he calls time on his career.
Cesc Fàbregas, currently at Barcelona, was a world-class talent who failed to lift the Premier League title during his time in England. Despite being one of Arsenal’s best-ever midfielders and the catalyst for many of the Gunners’ unsuccessful title challenges, Fàbregas left England with just an FA Cup winner’s medal and a runners-up medal in the Champions League to his name. The embodiment of the golden Spanish generation, Fàbregas won the European championship in 2008 and the World Cup in 2010 with La Roja but the skillful playmaker could not guide Arsenal to the title. He spent seven years in north London and was captain for four of those but was very much part of a barren period for Arsenal as they watched Chelsea and Manchester United share the spoils since their last title success in 2003/04. Fàbregas made the return home to Barcelona from his beloved Arsenal in 2011 – and very few can blame him for making the move. He’s already picked up three trophies, including the La Liga title this year.
Perhaps one of the most potent finishers in front of goal, it was a pleasure to watch Gianfranco Zola’s trickery and sublime technical ability. During his seven years at Chelsea, the pint-sized Italian twice won the club’s player of the year award and picked up the Football Writers’ award in 1997. He won the Cup Winners’ Cup, FA Cup and League Cup at the Blues, and despite winning the Serie A title with Napoli, the Premier League eluded the Italian. However, Zola will take away many happy memories from his career in England, not least scoring the winner in the Cup Winners’ Cup final after coming on 21 seconds prior to his goal.
Les Ferdinand is a household name in English football and it is extremely surprising the big centre forward failed to win the Premier League given his attacking credentials. Staggeringly, Ferdinand is ranked at seven in the all-time Premier League top scorers table, an impressive feat for a man who has never won a winner’s medal. Like many on this list, he did come very close to achieving the ultimate domestic success, on two occasions in fact. During his spell with Newcastle United, he was twice a runner-up, and aside from the Magpies, the powerful striker scored an abundant of goals for Queens Park Rangers, Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City, West Ham United and Bolton Wanderers in England’s top-flight. In total, Ferdinand amassed an incredible 149 goals in 351 appearances and will go down as one of the many legends that have failed to win the Premier League crown.
Former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given cemented his place in the list because of the amazing, if not deeply disappointing achievement of appearing in 18 seasons in England’s top division without lifting the league title. A keeper of the highest calibre, Given spent much of his time at Newcastle and never really came close to claiming the top spot. Just as Manchester City became title contenders, the Irishman was shipped out to Aston Villa – he is expected to make the move to Championship new-boys Doncaster this summer. The 37-year-old was one of the best-shot stoppers in the Premier League after his debut in 1997 and was certainly capable of plying his trade in a team where he could have been competing for the league. It appears now that his chances of Premier League success have completely diminished but Given has earned the respect of many for his outstanding service to Newcastle and stunning consistency throughout his many years in the Premier League.