The ’90s ushered in a whole new era of English football with the introduction of the Premier League that saw the emergence of broadcasters like Sky showcase our great league across the globe. But in the ’00s it is undisputedly known that was the decade when the Premier League was the best league in Europe and saw English football teams dominate the Champions League. Where there was even an English team featured in 5 Champions League finals during the ’00s as well as one of the finals being an all English one. While there was a wealth of memorable legends, there are some players that many fans have forgotten and that you probably only ever get to see when you’re watching Sky Sports’ Premier League Years. Well, we’ve listed some legendary Prem players from the ’00s that you may have forgotten about. Here’s our XI of the best-forgotten players from the noughties.
If you remember during the early ’00s Carlo Cudicini was easily one of, if not, the best goalkeeper in the Premier League. He was a stalwart for Chelsea under Claudio Ranieri and was adored by the Chelsea faithful. So much so, he was voted Chelsea Player of the Year in the 2001-02 season. But when Roman Abramovich’s riches came in so did Petr Cech which saw the Italian drop down to the bench and that’s where he remained for 5 years before moving just up the road to Tottenham and then closing his career at LA Galaxy. To put into perspective how good Carlo was, The FA tried to select him for the England national team but he was unfortunately ineligible.
An Everton ever-present between 2002 to 2012, Joseph Yobo, was a fan favourite for the Merseysiders. Yobo was David Moyes’ first signing as Everton manager and during his time at Everton, he played every minute of every game in the 2006-07 season. At his peak, during some contract issues, the Nigerian record appearance-holder, was rumoured to be moving to Arsenal but he remained faithful and stayed at Goodison Park.
A real colossus figure at the back of the defence, Samba was the figurehead of Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn team that caused all the big Prem boys problems in the latter ’00s. The once captain of The Rovers had a lot in his locker and could comfortably play as a lone striker when Allardyce needed a target man at the end of games. This led to the Congolese international to start a flurry of games up top even leading to Champions League-winner Benni McCarthy having to sit on the bench in place for Samba.
Graeme Le Saux
Some will remember him for his days with Blackburn in the ’90s that saw The Rovers win their only Premier League title. But us ’90s-born babies will remember him for his time at Chelsea and Southampton. The Jersey-born left-back was your left back’s left back, he could bomb forward, whip in a cross and trackback. At one point, Graeme was the most expensive defender in English football!
Kid you not, but during the mid-2000s, Pascal Chimbonda was easily one of the best fullbacks in the league. No seriously, he really was, he was voted in the PFA Team of the Year in 2005-06 having been voted the best right back beating the likes of Gary Neville and Steve Finnan. The guy was so good at Wigan that he was on the bench for France during the 2006 World Cup final in Germany!
Steed Malbranque (Captain)
Once labelled as Fulham’s Zinedine Zidane, the Frenchman was an icon at Craven Cottage. His ability to run past multiple players with his low centre of balance made Steed one of the finest Prem players and easily Fulham’s best player in the early to mid-’00s. He eventually moved to Tottenham where their breadth of midfield talent led to Malbranque moving to Sunderland and eventually back to France.
Some of you are probably raising your eyebrows at this choice. But hear me out, Elano’s first season was impeccable, as a neutral, I used to love watching that City team which Elano obviously spearheaded. He was a real technical player; think of his amazing freekick against Newcastle and you’ll remember how gifted this Brazilian was. His finest season was, of course, the 2007-08 season and for his brilliance that season he makes it on this list for me.
Morten Gamst Pederson
There was a period where Pederson was featured in the Premier League Goal of the Month on Match of the Day every single month. The Norwegian didn’t know how to score a simple goal. Pederson had the most cultured left foot, the guy was a winger in every definition and is surely a Blackburn legend. Morten was bought to replace Damien Duff after he moved to Chelsea and it’s fair to say he filled Duff’s boots.
I’m sure any time any Arsenal fan reads this guy’s name there are immediate shivers that are sent down their spine. This guy loved a goal against The Gunners and was a real hero at Bolton. The forward was so good that both Liverpool and Man City tried to sign the Greek-international. The lad really knew how to make a late run into the box and bury it in the back of the net.
Do you remember when Middlesborough boasted arguably one of the best striking line-ups with Hasselbaink, Viduka, Job and Maccarone? He wasn’t always a starter for the Boro’ but when he did you knew the guy could get a goal at any minute. I mean, who remembers that crazy UEFA Cup tie where the Italian came on and scored twice against Steaua Bucharest, the guy really had an eye for goal.
Camara was an odd one, he was always seen but always forgotten. The Senegalese forward enjoyed his best spell in the Premier League at Wigan where he and Jason Roberts developed an intrinsic partnership and also saw the Sengelese become the main man at The Latics. His time at Stoke and West Ham weren’t great but I always remember watching MOTD and this guy smashing it in the back of the net whilst he played at the then, JJB stadium.
Papa Boupa Diop