The Premier League is celebrating its 30th anniversary this season and The Football Faithful writers have come together to delve through our favourite moments.
Peter Henry: Very personal this, and I’ll be honest I didn’t even see the game live, but I’m gonna go with Steve Bruce’s two injury-time headers against Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford that effectively sealed the 92/93 Premier League title for Man United. In those days there was no way to watch three o’clock games so I remember being out on the road and on 90 minutes we were told it was 1-0 to Wednesday and we all thought we’d blown the chance at winning our first league in 26 years. Seven minutes later the three points were in the bag, Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd were on the pitch, and a generation of Red Devils supporters’ long wait was almost over. And that kids is where Fergie Time comes from.
Ben Guest: Sitting with my neutral cap on, I genuinely cannot pick between Leicester winning the league, or that Sergio Aguerooooo winner, even though, as a United fan, the latter crushed me.
Harry Diamond: There have been more iconic moments, but Wayne Rooney’s first goal to end Arsenal’s unbeaten run was something special. This kid, barely out of school, scoring a goal like that against a team like them. Everton’s secret was truly out.
Ste Tudor: There is a very obvious one – see my favourite goal – but beyond that it’s Steven Gerrard slipping to let Demba Ba race away and score. In full context it was such a perfect storm that it made someone who doesn’t believe in fate, half believe in fate.
Vishnu Anandraj: Sir Alex Ferguson’s final home game at Old Trafford represented the true end of an era. Rio Ferdinand’s final goal, a lovely finish from the centre-back, was a fitting sendoff to one of the Premier League’s greatest coaches.
Peter: Thierry Henry. In full flight, he is the most aesthetically pleasing footballer I have ever seen, and I include those two little Argentinian fellas in that.
Ben: A very biased one here, but Cristiano Ronaldo, especially in the 2007/08 season, he was out of this world. However, my non-Manchester United one would have to be Thierry Henry. Magnifique!
Harry: Steven Gerrard. Often appearing to be on a one-man crusade to rescue results, Gerrard’s abandonment of his position may have frustrated his more pragmatic managers, but it only endeared him to the Liverpool fans such was his will to influence games singlehandedly. In an era of much mediocrity, he carried the Reds on occasion.
Ste: David Silva. The balance of a Subbuteo player. The vision of a sniper. Poetry in motion.
Vishnu: Michael Carrick – This may be me projecting as a Manchester United fan who desperately wants them to buy a number six, in a subtle way. Carrick could run a whole game. He set the tempo for United’s build-up and allowed us to play neatly through the lines with short, vertical passes or by spreading the ball over longer distances. Both on and off the ball, he made the game look easy and effortless.
Peter: It just has to be Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle in 1996. It remains the yardstick for classic Premier League encounters. That first just hits different though innit.
Ben: Another toss up for me here. Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle in 1996 or Man Utd 4-3 Man City in 2009. Both games were full of pure drama, emotion, stoppage time winners and bags of goals between big rivals.
Harry: The Manchester Derby of September 2009 was thrilling viewing as a neutral. For the first time in the Premier League era City could go toe-to-toe with their fierce rivals, in a game that had everything. Michael Owen’s late, late winner earned United a 4-3 win, but there superiority in the city would not last much longer as the big-spending blues continued to rise.
Ste: As a neutral it was Liverpool and Arsenal sharing out a 4-4 draw at Anfield in 2009. I interviewed Arshavin recently and asked him for his memories of the game. He just recalls how shattered he was afterwards as he was still relatively new to English football. It fries the brain to think it was 1-0 at half time.
Vishnu: In a league increasingly dominated by financial power, Leicester City’s title run was exhilarating to follow because, at least for a season, it reminded us that at least some meritocracy remains in football. The win at Manchester City, for most people including myself, made me believe Leicester could really go all the way.
Peter: I’m going to go all the way back to the Premier League’s first ever goal of the season, Dalian Atkinson v Wimbledon.
Ben: Bergkamp v Newcastle. The touch. The spin. The finish…simply superb.
Harry: Over two decades since it was scored, there has not been a goal that quite replicates the balletic brilliance of Dennis Bergkamp at Newcastle. Pure genius.
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 2, 2020
Ste: As a Manchester City fan my life is pretty much split before and after the 93rd minute of City against QPR in 2012. Years and years of disappointment and pain evaporated in that one unforgettable instant.
Vishnu: Any volley goal is special, but Di Canio did something otherworldly against Wimbledon. He hit it with the outside of his foot from a ridiculous angle while mid-air.
Peter: Robbie Fowler pretending to sniff a line of Colombian marching powder was marvellous.
Ben: Jimmy Bullard’s finger-wagging.
Harry: Emmanuel Adebayor reaching unprecedented levels of shithousery with his full-length sprint to goad the Arsenal fans takes some beating.
Ste: Temuri Ketsbaia kicking hell out of the advertising hoardings and throwing his shirt into the crowd is fondly recalled. That he so spectacularly lost the plot on scoring against Bolton of all teams just makes it even funnier.
A very happy birthday to Temuri Ketsbaia! 🥳🇬🇪 pic.twitter.com/n2so8l4pR2
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) March 18, 2021
Vishnu: Michu’s iconic gesture, the one hand raised to his ear that became a familiar sight during Swansea games in the 2012/13 season. It’s an iconic celebration for an iconic player who, for a season, graced the Premier League with a exhilarating display of flair, pace, and prowess.
Peter: Arsenal’s crushed Banana number from the early nineties deserves all the hype it gets.
Ben: Always had a soft spot for the Newcastle kit of 1995-97.
Harry: There’s something about the Arsenal’s Dreamcast/Sega sponsored kits that evoke nostalgia in me. Perhaps under-appreciated between the JVC and 02 sponsorship eras, those shirts bring back memories of a brilliant team at the turn of the millennium.
Ste: I’ve always been oddly drawn to Aston Villa shirts. It must be the claret and blue because I’m partial to any West Ham number too. The Villa strip of 94/95 is a stand-out, with its thin blue stripes and buttoned collar.
Vishnu: Tottenham 2016/17 away kit – I associated this kit with a Spurs side that was really enjoyable to watch, but I also think it’s a clean and underrated kit. The navy and gold combination is kind of unusual for football kits but it works well in my opinion.
Opposition player you secretly admired
Peter: Kevin De Bruyne. I have this theory that you only truly appreciate how dangerous a player is by how nervous you get when they get the ball against your team. I need to change my jocks and half and full time after watching KDB play against United.
Ben: Even as a United fan, I was a big admirer of Sergio Aguero. The Argentine could score all types of goals, had pace, power, superb balance, and averaged a goal every 107 minutes. If only he had better luck with injuries, I think he could have challenged Shearer’s Premier League record. Still, his 184 goals in 275 appearances is not to be sniffed at.
Harry: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. There was something about the minimal fuss that Hasselbaink scored goals with thudding power that made him a firm favourite of mine.
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 2, 2017
Ste: Michael Carrick. Straight of back, always composed, and very rarely positionally exposed. A midfield three of Carrick, Scholes and either one of Gerrard or Lampard would have won a major tournament.
Vishnu: Leroy Sane – Sane was an electric player for Manchester City. There were times he looked like he could be the best player in the world. His career maybe hasn’t hit the heights I thought it would, but he remains a favourite of mine to watch and I’m beyond glad he’s not playing for City anymore.
Player who doesn’t get enough credit
Peter: Michael Owen. The streets truly forgot just how good he was as a teenager. Frightening pace and ice cold in front of goal.
Ben: I always think Andy Cole wasn’t as appreciated as his 187 Premier League goals suggest he should, just one of which came from the penalty spot. Remarkably, he made just 15 England caps – seven being in friendlies – despite being an integral part of the Manchester United side that won the treble in 1999.
Harry: Michael Owen. The latter half of Owen’s career and perceived media personality have somewhat dimmed the memories of his electric youth. His achievement in winning back-to-back Golden Boots as a teenager is unlikely to be repeated, while only Ronaldo Nazario has ever won a Ballon d’Or at a younger age.
Ste: Sylvain Distin. 469 Premier League appearances and a Player of the Year at both Manchester City and Everton. That this classy centre-back never won a full French cap is frankly ridiculous.
Vishnu: Marouane Fellaini – For all his limitations as a player, Fellaini had an incredibly impressive Premier League career. His chest control was absurdly good, and his work rate and aggression made him a nightmare for any opponent irrespective of where he played.
Premier League XI
Peter: Schmeichel; Neville, Vidic, Van Dijk, Cole; Vieira, Scholes, De Bruyne; Bale, Shearer, Henry.
Ben: P Schmeichel; Neville, Vidic, Terry, Cole; Gerrard, De Bruyne; Ronaldo, Aguero, Shearer, Henry.
Harry: You can keep your arguments for longevity and winners’ medals. This team has balance, brilliance, and wing partnership to give any full-back sleepless nights – Schmeichel; Walker, Ferdinand, Terry, Cole; Ronaldo, Gerrard, Vieira, Bale; Shearer, Henry.
Ste: Cech; Walker, Terry, Van Dijk, Cole; Vieira, D. Silva, Scholes; Ronaldo, Shearer, Henry.
Vishnu: 4-4-2 diamond (only players I watched live matches of) – Cech; Walker, Ferdinand, Van Djik, Baines; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Dembele; Rooney, Kane, Aguero.
Feel free to drop your best memories of the Premier League down in the comments below.