The new millennium saw Manchester United continue their dominance of English football and the Premier League era, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side winning a sixth title in just eight seasons since the launch of the rebranded division.
Elsewhere the 1999/2000 campaign saw surprise package Sunderland thrive on the back of the goalscoring form of Kevin Phillips, whilst Arsenal fans were treated to their first glimpses of a new hero following Thierry Henry’s move to north London from Juventus.
We’re continuing our look back at the star performers of each Premier League campaign, revisiting the 1999/00 PFA Team of the Year:
Goalkeeper: Nigel Martyn – Leeds
David O’Leary’s youthful Leeds side continued their progress following a fourth-placed finish the previous season, improving on that showing to secure Champions League qualification despite the departure of leading scorer Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to Atletico Madrid.
Amongst the stars of the club’s season was an experienced head in goal, with Nigel Martyn playing each of Leeds’ 55 fixtures in all competitions as O’Leary’s side also reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup.
Only Chelsea’s Ed de Goey and Liverpool’s Sander Westerveld kept more than Martyn’s 13 clean sheets in the Premier League, the 33-year-old voted into the Premier League’s best XI for the third consecutive season.
Right-back: Gary Kelly – Leeds
The second of four Leeds players to make the Premier League’s Team of the Year, Kelly was a model of consistency throughout his one-club career at Elland Road and was recognised as the division’s best right-back during the 1999/2000 season.
Kelly made 45 appearances in all competitions and was a key part of the club’s highest league finish since being crowned champions in the final pre-Premier League season, the Irishman earning a second inclusion in the PFA Team of the Year after also being nominated following the 1993/94 campaign.
Centre-back: Jaap Stam – Manchester United
There must have been few sights more daunting for Premier League forwards than that of Jaap Stam around the turn of the millennium, the Dutchman a formidable opponent and a key figure in a Manchester United squad that secured back-to-back league titles in 1999/2000.
Stam had helped Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to a historic treble-winning season the previous year before once again delivering a series of commanding performances, earning a second straight inclusion in the league’s best XI as voted for by his fellow professionals.
Stam spent three seasons in Manchester and was included in the PFA Team of the Year in each campaign, his acrimonious departure to Lazio amongst Ferguson’s biggest regrets of his Old Trafford reign.
Centre-back: Sami Hyypia – Liverpool
Gerard Houllier’s first full season as Liverpool’s sole manager saw the club show significant progress, improving to secure a top four finish and qualification for the following season’s UEFA Cup.
Emile Heskey’s club-record arrival from Leicester may have taken the headlines, but it was an unknown quantity plucked from Holland who shone brightest for the Reds.
Sami Hyypia quickly established himself as a bargain buy during an impressive debut season in English football, forming a strong partnership with fellow summer signing Stephane Henchoz to be named in the Premier League’s Team of the Year.
Liverpool finished the campaign with the best defensive record in the division having conceded just 30 league goals, Hyypia bringing solidity to a side which had struggled for success throughout the Premier League era to date.
Left-back: Ian Harte – Leeds
One half of an all-Leeds pairing at full-back, Ian Harte joined his uncle Gary Kelly in the Premier League’s best XI for 1999/2000 following a stand-out campaign at Elland Road.
Harte’s deadly delivery and ability from set-pieces was a fundamental part of Leeds’ attacking play, David O’Leary’s side leading the division at the turn of the New Year before a stuttering second half of the campaign resulted in a slip to third.
Harte finished the season with an impressive eight goals in all competitions from full-back, including vital winning goals against West Ham, Bradford and Derby, the latter a stoppage-time penalty at Pride Park.
Right-wing: David Beckham – Manchester United
David Beckham’s status as one of football’s brightest talents was recognised with a runners-up finish for both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 1999, whilst another impressive season from the Manchester United star earned him a fourth consecutive inclusion in the Premier League’s Team of the Year.
Beckham finished as the leading assist provider in England’s top tier for the second time in his career, his 15 assists complimented by a haul of six league goals as United finished a record 18 points clear of nearest challengers Arsenal.
Midfield: Roy Keane – Manchester United
Having captained Manchester United to a historic treble-winning season the year prior, Keane was named as the Premier League’s finest player as the Red Devils won a second successive league title, setting new landmarks for most goals scored (97) and for the division’s biggest winning margin.
The all-action midfielder was the heartbeat and leader of Ferguson’s best sides during his time at Old Trafford, and delivered arguably his finest individual campaign during the 1999/2000 season.
Keane made 45 appearances in all competitions and scored an impressive 12 goals as United retained their crown in style, winning a Player of the Year double after adding the FWA Footballer of the Year award to his PFA honour.
Midfield: Patrick Vieira – Arsenal
Joining Keane in a midfield partnership packed with combative edge is old enemy Patrick Vieira, the France international the authoritative presence in a Gunners side amongst the finest in the Premier League.
Arsenal struggled to keep with the relentless pace set by Manchester United’s all-conquering side, but Vieira was once again recognised by his fellow peers as amongst the finest footballers in the division.
Intelligent, athletic and ferociously competitive, Vieira had the perfect blend of attributes for the modern box-to-box midfielder, influencing proceedings at both ends of the pitch and making 48 appearances in all competitions as Arsenal also reached the final of the UEFA Cup.
Vieira’s inclusion was one of six straight nominations the former Arsenal captain received during his career, a hugely respected leader and amongst the greatest midfielders in Premier League history.
Left-wing: Harry Kewell – Leeds
Leeds’ emerging side contained several promising talents including the likes of Alan Smith and Jonathan Woodgate, but it was arguably Australian forward Kewell who was the star as David O’Leary’s outfit secured a place amongst Europe’s elite.
Kewell scored ten league goals and provided a further 12 assists as Leeds finished third, flourishing in tandem with summer signing Michael Bridges as the club also embarked on a memorable run in European competition.
The youngster became just the second player from outside the UK and Ireland to be named as the PFA Young Player of the Year, finishing the campaign with 20 goals in all competitions and an inclusion in the Premier League’s Team of the Year.
Forward: Andy Cole – Manchester United
Andy Cole followed up Manchester United’s treble success with the most prolific league campaign of his seven season spell at Old Trafford, thriving in partnership with Dwight Yorke and scoring 19 league goals for the season.
That tally included a four-goal haul against former side Newcastle in August and contributed towards a then Premier League record of 97 goals scored by the title-winners, United finishing the season with 11 successive wins to be crowned champions in emphatic fashion.
Cole’s performances saw him included in the league’s best XI, surprisingly the only time the forward was nominated despite a career that delivered 187 Premier League goals – the third most of any player in the division’s history.
Forward: Kevin Phillips – Sunderland
Rodney Marsh’s pre-season prediction that Kevin Phillips would struggle to score goals in the top flight came back to haunt the pundit in spectacular style, the Sunderland striker enjoying a sensational campaign for the newly-promoted side.
Peter Reid’s side continued their momentum from a promotion-winning campaign to thrive at the top level, their fortunes largely centred around the goalscoring prowess of the prolific Phillips.
Working brilliantly in a ‘little and large’ combination with Irishman Niall Quinn, Phillips finished the season with 30 league goals to become the first – and so far only – Englishman to win the European Golden Shoe.
Phillips’ goals earned him inclusion in the Premier League’s Team of the Year and helped Sunderland to an impressive seventh-placed finish, a position which remains the club’s highest ever in the Premier League era.