Soccer is a very physically demanding sport in the modern era. The stop/start nature of the sport requires high levels of fitness, stamina and pace. Even more so in the Premier League, which is renowned as one of the most physical leagues on the planet, with games often played at a fast and frantic pace, one of the elements that has made it the most popular and most watched league in the world.
As such, there are very few genuinely fat players. The fact that Frank Lampard was nicknamed 'Fat Frank' by some, despite the fact he has never appeared even remotely overweight shows the desperation of some supporters, likewise Wayne Rooney is often attacked in the same manner, despite being very fit the vast majority of the time. It will not surprise you that neither of those players make this list.
This list is reserved only for those who are, or were while playing in the Premier League, genuinely 'fat' or overweight. Some players struggle to keep their weight down during the offseason, while others struggle throughout an entire campaign or career. Several goalkeepers make the list, unsurprising given that it is the least physically demanding position within the game. Here are the top fattest Premier League players of all time.
15 John Hartson
The Welsh striker's time in the Premier League included spells with Arsenal, West Ham United and Wimbledon (who were relegated to First Division in 2000). John Hartson would often hear ""Big fat, big fat John! Big fat, big fat John! Big fat, big fat John! Big fat Johnny Hartson!" This was in affection from the Wimbledon fans, as they would chant this whenever Hartson scored a goal. Hartson didn't always have the ideal weight, but he was a useful player for his clubs back in his day.
14 Benni McCarthy
Benni McCarthy made just 11 appearances while with West Ham, on account of his fitness often being an issue. His struggles with maintaining his weight also caused a heartbreaker in terms of his career, as he was not called up to his native South Africa when they hosted the World Cup back in 2010. For his part, he did score 37 goals while with Blackburn, but McCarthy could have had a far better career had he kept his fitness up. McCarthy retired in 2013, after a stint in the with the Orlando Pirates of his native South Africa.
13 Tom Huddlestone
Tom Huddlestone has trimmed down considerably from where he was early in his career. While with Tottenham, manager Juande Ramos came in and one of his first orders of business was changing the players' eating regimens. The midfielder was often on the receiving end of chants about his weight during his time with Spurs. Huddlestone has since been to Hull City, where his weight no longer appears to be an issue.
12 Mark Bosnich
Mark Bosnich began his Premier League tenure with Aston Villa where he played from 1992 to 1999. Bosnich eventually returned to his original team, Manchester United, where Sir Alex Ferguson said of his fitness. "Mark got off to a real bad start. He turned up for training three hours late. He was overweight," said Fergie. The coach took it a step further in his autobiography, calling Bosnich a "terrible professional."
11 Micky Quinn
Micky Quinn played for several teams in the Premier League, playing for Coventry City. Other clubs of his included Portsmouth and Newcastle United. A common chant towards Quinn was "He's fat, he's round, he scores at every ground." Quinn's fitness was sometimes an issue and possibly one of the reasons he was never called up for the Three Lions. However, Quinn still managed to enjoy a successful club career, scoring 227 goals in 535 games.
10 Brian Jensen
Former Burnley shot stopper Brian Jensen has only spent two seasons in the Premier League, and failed to make a single appearance in one of those seasons. In the other though, playing for the newly-promoted Clarets, Jensen earned a lot of plaudits for his performances. The Dane has often appeared a little more rotund than your average soccer player, especially in the years following his 30th birthday. Now aged 40, Jensen is still playing, but is now on the books at League Two Mansfield Town.
Egypt star Mido spent six seasons in the Premier League, in which he could fairly be described as markedly inconsistent. His second season was his most impressive, while at Tottenham, in which he hit 11 goals in 27 games in his early 20s, but he never kicked on, returning to Egypt twice before dropping down to the Championship and before retiring due to his fitness problems. Mido's size and weight were a recurring issue throughout his career and since his early retirement at just 30, not much has changed.
8 Neil Ruddock
Premier League 'hardman' Neil 'Razor' Ruddock played in the Premier League for Southampton, Tottenham, Liverpool and West Ham. A tough-tackling center-half known for his no-nonsense approach to the game and powerful left footed strike, Ruddock won one cap for England. Ruddock was always a large man, and someone who liked to throw his weight about, but by the tail end of his career, that weight had become a little excessive. It is well known that Ruddock had weight problems for much of his career, and some have suggested that was the reason for his only winning a solitary England cap.
7 Kevin Pressman
The second goalkeeper to make this list, Kevin Pressman spent eight years in the Premier League with Sheffield Wednesday. Pressman was clearly rather tubby and overweight for much of his career, but it didn't prevent him from making 545 first team appearances over his career, most of which came at the highest level, whether that be the Premier League or even the UEFA Cup. Despite his appearance, Pressman was notoriously agile and his reflexes were regarded as one of his finest attributes.
6 Matt Le Tissier
Matt Le Tissier is one of the most technically gifted players of the Premier League era. It's a good thing he was, because he didn't have a great deal going for him in the way of physical attributes. Le Tissier, who was nicknamed 'Le God' by Southampton supporters, spent his entire career with the Saints, where he became the first midfielder to score 100 Premier League goals. Southampton relied so much on Le Tiss, they didn't even force him to run during training, or in games, and it came as little surprise that his fitness wasn't always up there with the best. He admitted to often returning overweight after pre-season training.
5 Neville Southall
If this list was ordered by how fat they got, rather than how fat they were while playing in the Premier League, then Neville Southall would surely come out on top. That being said, even during his playing days, particularly towards the end of his career, Southall was far from a picture of health or full fitness. An outstanding goalkeeper, Southall spent the vast majority of his career as number 1 at Everton, as well as winning 92 caps for Wales. In four seasons he was named among the 10 best goalkeepers in the world, he was named Footballer of the Year in 1985, and remains the last goalkeeper to do so. Southall was even named one of the top 100 players of the 20th century by WorldSoccer magazine.
4 Jan Molby
From an Everton legend to a great of their Merseyside rivals Liverpool, Jan Molby spent the 12 best years of his career playing for the Reds, where he won three league titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup and four Charity Shields, all of which he added to the two titles he had previously won in the Netherlands with Ajax. Technically excellent, Molby could have had an even more remarkable career were it not for his weight issues, which plagued his career and were often thought to a result of his penchant for an alcoholic beverage from time to time.
3 Andy Reid
Irishman Andy Reid has spent eight seasons in the Premier League with four different clubs. His longest stint in the top flight came with Sunderland, where he spent four consecutive seasons in the division. Possessing a good range of passing and a fierce left footed shot, Reid now plays for Nottingham Forest, his first club, in the Championship. Nicknamed the 'fat Maradona' - a concerning nickname when one considers El Diego wasn't always in great shape - Reid has had to labor with abuse over his weight and size throughout his career.
2 Paddy Kenny
The fourth and final goalkeeper on this list, Paddy Kenny and chants of "You fat b******" are almost synonymous within the English game. Kenny, whose weight fluctuates a great deal but he has indeed appeared at times to be genuinely fat, doesn't always help himself. While some can take the criticism like water off a duck's back, Kenny struggles, and often rises to the bait, one thing you should never do to a crowd of football fans, who love to get a reaction.
Kenny is even known to taunt opposing fans, which hardly endears them to his cause. Former manager Neil Warnock once commented, "He looks like the Michelin Man. We had to cut out hamburgers, chips, meat pies and apple pies from his diet," before adding that Kenny doesn't get the credit he deserves due to looking too fat to be a footballer. He spent eight years at Sheffield United before spells with QPR, Leeds, Bolton and Ipswich, but is currently a free agent.
1 Tomas Brolin
The most famous fat footballer of the Premier League era has to be Tomas Brolin. Having had great success with Parma and Sweden in the early 1990s, Brolin was snapped up by Leeds United in the hope that he would give them the creative spark and cutting edge they required. But the only thing Brolin cut through was cake, and lots of it by the look of things. He went on to feature in various polls and votes, being named the second worst player in Premier League history and Leeds United's worst ever player on separate occasions.
Brolin suffered a nasty injury in 1994, before his move to Leeds, and never truly recovered or was able to get his fitness up to the required levels. After such heavy criticism at Leeds, Brolin joined Crystal Palace, where he declared that he would prove his fitness. One Guardian newspaper writer wrote that he, "arrived looking like the fat, cardboard replica next to which Slimmers of the Year tend to pose, and played like it". He retired in 1998, aged 28.