Every team in the Premier League has been playing football for at least a century, with the youngest (Crystal Palace and Chelsea) having been founded 110 years ago, and the oldest (Stoke City) having been founded 153 years ago. All of this means there isn't a single team in England's top tier that doesn't have a long and proud history, each having their own cub legends and heroes.
Of course, football is an ever-changing landscape, and some clubs such as Arsenal and Manchester United have spent almost their entire history among England's elite, whilst others, most notably Bournemouth, are in relatively unchartered territory in the top flight. As a result, and wholly unsurprisingly, the teams who have historically and are still challenging for silverware have a more glittering selection of potential candidates to take the title of their greatest ever player.
Given the variety of teams pasts, the list includes Ballon d'Or and World Cup winners, as well as one player who never even played in the top flight. The list takes into account the players ability first and foremost, but also their achievements and influence upon the club they are being associated with. Here are the greatest players in each Premier League team's history:
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19 Arsenal - Thierry Henry
One of the easiest choices on this list, Arsenal have an illustrious history and have had some great players over the years, such as Pat Jennings, Tony Adams and Dennis Bergkamp, but Thierry Henry simply has to rank at top spot. Arsenal's all-time top scorer, with 228 goals from 377 games, Henry is also the French national teams all-time record goal scorer. He arrived at Highbury after an unsuccessful spell at Juventus where he was played on the left wing, but Arsene Wenger transformed him into one of the most elegant and potent forwards the game has ever seen.
18 Aston Villa - Gordon Cowans
Having won 7 First Division titles, 7 FA Cups and 4 European titles, Aston Villa have clearly had some immensely talented players over the course of their history, but none more so than Gordon Cowans. The former England international who won 10 caps for his country is a Villa legend, having come through the clubs academy and despite being sold three times, he also returned to wear the claret and blue three teams. Between 1979 and 1983, the most successful period in Villa's history, Cowan didn't miss a single game. His world class passing was pivotal in Villa's First Division, League Cup, European Cup and European Super Cup successes.
Bournemouth - Steve Fletcher
Without doubt the least naturally gifted and talented player on this list, that doesn't stop Steve Fletcher from being an absolute titan of Bournemouth Football Club. Given the south coast side's lowly status throughout much of their history, it is understandable that their greatest player is less highly regarded than many others, and one of their current crop is likely to soon be considered among their greatest ever players. Fletcher was a powerful target man who spent 19 years with Bournemouth, and is currently the clubs all-time record appearance holder.
17 Chelsea - Frank Lampard
A difficult choice with so many recent stars having been pivotal at Chelsea, one would almost certainly have to say one of their post-2000 crop ranked as the clubs greatest player of all-time, although Bobby Tambling and Gianfranco Zola warrant mentioning. John Terry, Petr Cech and Didier Drogba give Lampard close competition, but the prolific midfielder just edges it. Lampard is Chelsea's all-time top scorer and their fourth highest appearance holder. He also holds the records for the most consecutive appearances (164) and the most international caps (106) in Chelsea history. Over the course of 13 years with the Blues, Lampard scored 211 goals, winning the Premier League three times, the FA Cup four times, the Champions League and five other trophies with the club.
16 Crystal Palace - Ian Wright
One of the toughest of the 20 to pick, either Jim Cannon or Geoff Thomas could have taken top spot for Crystal Palace, but ultimately it is Ian Wright who does so. The future Arsenal star arrived at Selhurst Park from non-league Greenwich Borough, and he signed for Palace in 1985, a late bloomer, already aged 22. In six years at Palace, Wright scored 117 goals in 277 games for the club, making him the third highest scorer in Palace history, and the highest since the 1930's. In 2005, Wright was named Palace's 'Player of the Century'. He left the club in 1991 for Arsenal, where he went on to become a club legend also.
15 Everton - Dixie Dean
Quite a simple choice, despite Everton having had a number of tremendous players over the years, the goal scoring feats of Dixie Dean are simply eye-watering. In the 1927/28 season, Dean scored an incredible 67 goals in 46 games, a record in English football which still stands and may never be beaten, and a goals haul which fired Everton to the First Division title. In total, Dean scored 383 goals in 433 games, making him by far the club's all-time record scorer, with more than twice as many goals as second placed Graeme Sharp. As well as his individual achievements, Dean also won seven trophies with Everton.
14 Leicester City - Gordon Banks
Among the greatest goalkeepers to have ever lived, Gordon Banks is a legend of the game. Best known for being the man between the sticks when England won the World Cup in 1966, Banks' club career was spent largely with Leicester City and Stoke City. He spent eight years with Leicester, where he reached two FA Cup finals and won the League Cup. Banks left Leicester for Stoke in 1967, replaced by another Foxes great and another world class goalkeeper, this time in the form of Peter Shilton.
13 Liverpool - Kenny Dalglish
One of the greatest clubs in the history of the European game, Liverpool have had a real wealth of world class players at their disposal over the years. Many people consider Steven Gerrard to be the Reds greatest of all time, due to his success alongside a less talented group of players, but for us, Dalglish still maintains the title. It is true Dalglish was surrounded by better players, but in a squad which won six league titles, three European Cup's and 13 other trophies, the Scot still somehow managed to stand out, for this reason he still stands as the greatest Liverpool player in history.
12 Manchester City - Colin Bell
A difficult choice, Colin Bell has for so long been considered the greatest Manchester City player of all time, but in recent years, the competition has become a little more rife. Recent stars such as Yaya Toure, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero are all world class footballers, but David Silva stands as Bell's greatest rival. The diminutive Spaniard already has a trophy haul to match Bell's, and in time, he is likely to exceed him. Bell spent 13 years at Maine Road, where he won 6 trophies, including the First Division and the FA Cup. A terrific all-round midfielder, Bell won 48 caps for England and played 498 games for Man City, the fifth most in the clubs history.
11 Manchester United - Sir Bobby Charlton
No team in the Premier League has more distinguished nominees as the greatest player in the club's history than Manchester United. Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, George Best, Eric Cantona, Dennis Law, Bryan Robson, Duncan Edwards, Cristiano Ronaldo and Roy Keane all deserve to be in the discussion, but ultimately, it is Sir Bobby Charlton who gets our vote. A Ballon d'Or, World Cup and European Cup winner, Charlton was an extraordinary footballer blessed with passing and shooting abilities twinned with a remarkable stamina and willing. He won nine trophies with Manchester United, he is the club's all-time leading scorer and second highest appearance holder.
10 Newcastle United - Alan Shearer
An obvious choice but the right one. Newcastle United have had a number of great players over the years, and supporters of a certain vintage may maintain that Jackie Milburn or Albert Stubbins were better, but it is Shearer who deserves top spot. First and foremost, he is Newcastle's all-time top scorer, with 206 goals from 404 games. Shearer is the Premier League's record goal scorer, and his tally of 260 goals in the competition may well never be beaten. Shearer never won a trophy at St James Park, finishing as a runner-up in the league once and reaching the FA Cup final twice, but his lack of silverware hasn't thwarted his reputation as the clubs greatest ever player.
9 Norwich City - Martin Peters
Martin Peters may have been 31 when he joined Norwich City, but that hasn't stopped us picking the World Cup winner as the club's greatest ever player. A marvellous midfielder who Sir Alf Ramsey described as being "ten years ahead of his time", Peters was pivotal in England's 1966 World Cup win, then aged only 23. He joined Norwich from Tottenham in 1975, aged 31, as a marquee signing for the newly-promoted First Division side, and remained with the Canaries until the age of 36. In that time, he played over 200 games for the club, winning consecutive Player of the Year Awards. In 2002, Peters was the inaugural member of the Norwich City Hall of Fame.
8 Southampton - Matt Le Tissier
Not as easy a decision as the casual football follower may think, Matt Le Tissier is so synonymous with Southampton he seems an obvious pick as the clubs greatest ever player, but there were a number of credible candidates. Le Tiss, or 'Le God', as Southampton fans often refer to him as, spent his entire professional career on the south coast, spanning 16 years and seeing him score 209 goals in 531 games. Le Tissier is the second highest scorer in Southampton history and won the clubs Player of the Year award on three occasions.
7 Stoke City - Sir Stanley Matthews
Sir Stanley Matthews would be the greatest player to have graced almost any team he had played for, and despite having had superb players such as Neil Franklin and Freddie Steele, Stoke City are no exception. The finest player in the world for much of his career and the finest in Britain for the best part of a decade, Matthews was an incredible athlete. His career spanned an incredible 33 years, retiring at the age of 50. Matthews spent 19 of his 33 years at Stoke, where he played 355 games, scoring 62 goals from wide positions. He won the FWA Footballer of the Year whilst at Stoke and the Ballon d'Or whilst at Blackpool.
6 Sunderland - Raich Carter
A teammate of Matthews at international level, the Ballon d'Or winner described Carter as "the ideal partner for me". A number of Sunderland players had to be considered but Carter is probably the most naturally gifted in the club's history. One could make a reasonable case for Carter being the greatest player in the history of Sunderland, Derby and Hull City, the three teams he played for. The only man to win an FA Cup before and after the war, Carter was a world class inside-forward who lost much of his career to WWII. Despite this, Carter had a magnificent career. With Sunderland he won both the league and the cup, becoming the youngest man to captain a team to the league title in history.
5 Swansea City - Ivor Allchurch
Ivor Allchurch was a magnificent footballer who ought to be better recognised than he is. The Welshman still ranks above the likes of Gareth Bale, Ian Rush and Ryan Giggs and behind only John Charles as the greatest Welsh footballer of all-time in many people's books. Allchurch spent 14 years at Swansea in two separate spells, who were then 'Swansea Town' rather than Swansea City. With 166 goals from 445 games, Allchurch is Swansea's all-time record scorer and fifth highest appearance holder, despite only being an inside-forward. There is a life-size bust of Allchurch outside Swansea's Liberty Stadium.
4 Tottenham Hotspur - Danny Blanchflower
A tricky one with Spurs; Dave Mackay, Jimmy Greaves, Pat Jennings and Glenn Hoddle could all be consider reasonable choices as the North Londoners greatest ever, but Danny Blanchflower just edges it for us. The Northern Irishman played for Tottenham during their 'golden era' of the early 1960s, in which time he won the First Division, the FA Cup twice and the European Cup Winners Cup. The midfielder spent 10 years at Tottenham, in which time he played more than 300 games for the club, he is well-known for saying, "The game is about glory. It’s about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom."
3 Watford - Luther Blissett
Narrowly seeing off John Barnes to take our title of the greatest Watford player of all time, both were fantastic for the Hornets, but Blissett had greater longevity, and that in no small part gives him the edge. Jamaican-born Blissett played internationally for England, winning 14 caps and scoring a hat-trick on his debut. Blissett was pivotal to the Watford team which finished as First Division runners-up to Liverpool in the 1982/83 season, in which he scored 27 league goals and joined AC Milan the following year. Blissett had three spells at Vicarage Road, and with 186 goals in 503 games, he is both Watford's all time record appearance holder and goal scorer.
2 West Brom - Ronnie Allen
One of, if not the most difficult to pick out of all 20 clubs on this list, any one of a handful of players could have been in with a shout here. Ultimately though, it is Ronnie Allen who is our choice. The former England international spent 11 years at West Brom, scoring 234 goals in 458 games. Those figures make Allen West Brom's eighth highest appearance holder and their second highest goal scorer in history. One of the best strikers in England throughout the 1950s, Allen won the FA Cup with West Brom in 1954, scoring twice in the final as the Baggies beat Preston 3-2.
1 West Ham - Bobby Moore
West Ham have had no shortage of legends, including three of England's most important players at the 1966 World Cup, of which Moore was of course one. Other Hammers greats include Geoff Hurst, Trevor Brooking, Paolo Di Canio, Martin Peters and more. It is hard to look past the legend that is Bobby Moore though. England's World Cup winning captain and one of the greatest defenders to have ever graced a football pitch, Moore came through the academy at West Ham, before spending 16 years at the club, captaining the team for more than 10 of those years. He won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup Winners Cup at the Boleyn Ground, winning Player of the Year four times, finishing as a runner-up in the 1970 Ballon d'Or and having his shirt number (6) retired by the club in 2008.
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