Cult heroes, legends and champions: welcome to the early years of the Premier League

 By These Football Times 

Names of the Nineties: Georgi Kinkladze

In spite of all the glory that has come City’s way recently, Kinkladze is still remembered as a hero of the 90s and one of their finest natural talents

Names of the Nineties: Tony Yeboah

Tony Yeboah was as loved as he was mercurial; the what-ifs and what could have been dreams still live on – and so will his goalscoring record

Names of the Nineties: Jürgen Klinsmann

Stigma and unfair reputations about players from overseas still exist but pale in comparison to what it once was thanks to Jürgen Klinsmann

Names of the Nineties: Peter Ndlovu

Whilst Nodlovu was salient on his African return, his impact on the Premier League as the cardinal African player of the era is as seminal as his finishing

Names of the Nineties: Eric Cantona

Cantona has become an icon for France and England: a legend and a man whose genius, as both footballer and public philosopher, remains unquestioned

Names of the Nineties: Paul McGrath

The great Paul McGrath was a colossus on the pitch for Aston Villa and Ireland but, like everyone watching on, a human all the same

Names of the Nineties: Darren Anderton

Darren Anderton should be remembered for his professionalism and qualities on the pitch, not the unfortunate injuries that so agonisingly kept him off it

Names of the Nineties: Andy Cole

Andy Cole may not be the first name on every United’s fan’s lips when you say goalscorer, but, as the truth of his legacy shows, he more than deserves to be

Names of the Nineties: Neville Southall

A world-class goalkeeper only truly appreciated at Goodison Park, Neville Southall remains a an icon and role model for his football and his politics

Names of the Nineties: Ryan Giggs

Beckham, Scholes, Neville, Phil and Butt might never have been offered the same opportunities had Ryan Giggs not flourished before them

Names of the Nineties: Paolo Di Canio

Paolo Di Canio was something special. The skill, passion and a face that was permanently of extreme emotion were features idolised by fans in England

Names of the Nineties: Dennis Bergkamp

What made Dennis Bergkampso special was the magical qualities he had with the ball at his feet, the kind that stopped time, time and again

Names of the Nineties: Tomas Brolin

It remains a massive shame that the wondrously gifted Tomas Brolin was used so poorly by a number of Premier League sides in the 1990s

Names of the Nineties: Neil Ruddock

At his peak, Neil Ruddock represented much of what was beloved in an English defender: commanding in defence and calmness and confident on the ball

Names of the Nineties: Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel remains a legend in Manchester, believed by most to be the greatest goalkeeper ever to have protected the Old Trafford nets

Names of the Nineties: Tony Adams

On the pitch and off it, Arsenal legend Tony Adams remains a champion, a very human champion, and an inspiration to so many

Names of the Nineties: Dion Dublin

Plenty know Dion Dublin for his exploits far from the pitch, but for many of a particular vintage, there’ll never be any forgetting his exploits on it

Names of the Nineties: Paul Scholes

A rare breed of English player, Paul Scholes was a highly intelligent footballer who had a superlative ability to make the game look oh-so-easy

Names of the Nineties: Andrei Kanchelskis

t his peak, Andrei Kanchelskis was irresistibly brilliant. He was a quintessential Manchester United winger, a player made in the club’s own image

Names of the Nineties: Stan Collymore

Very few players could ever dream of hitting such big heights and of doing what Stan Collymore could do. And he did it all in his own way

Names of the Nineties: David Ginola

Ginola was an enigmatic footballer who played with his heart on his sleeve – and his charisma and talent would see him become a true cult hero

Names of the Nineties: Juninho

To be a legend is something special; to have a connection with a city and its fans – Juninho had it all at Middlesbrough when he finally left for good

Names of the Nineties: Gianfranco Zola

Ask Chelsea fans to recount their favourite Zola moment and you will get a variety of answers, such was the stardust sprinkled on his play in so many games

Names of the Nineties: Paul Ince

A midfield general so typical of his era, Paul Ince was a commanding footballer whose controversies shouldn;t overshadow his undoubted talent

Names of the Nineties: Gareth Southgate

A natural leader and calm presence, while Gareth Southgate may be unfairly remembered for Euro 96, he was, in fact, one of England’s finest defenders

Names of the Nineties: Tim Sherwood

Tim Sherwood was, at his peak, something we rarely see in the Premier League today: a larger-than-life, blood-and-thunder character, unable to be usurped

Names of the Nineties: Gary Speed

Gary Speed lives on. Whether his picture shows a shirt of white, blue or black, it doesn’t matter: the fans do not care, for he was and still is loved

Names of the Nineties: Julian Dicks

Julian Dicks was undoubtedly a player who was hard as nails but he was also talented and blessed with the sweetest left foot you could wish for

Names of the Nineties: Robbie Fowler

Robbie Fowler was the Toxteth lad who rose up through the mire during a period of indifference at Liverpool – but remains celebrated as a deity

Names of the Nineties: David Beckham

Beyond his talents, which remains absurdly questioned to this day, David Beckham broke ground in English football – a footballer who transcended society

Names of the Nineties: Uwe Rösler

He may never have won a major title with Manchester City but Uwe Rösler remains one of the great cult heroes in the history of the club

Names of the Nineties: Pierre van Hooijdonk

Troublemaker or misunderstood genius? The jury remains out. Either way, Pierre van Hooijdonk was anything but boring during his British odyssey

Names of the Nineties: Lee Sharpe

Had the cards fallen differently for Lee Sharpe at Manchester United, we may have been talking about him as a true club legends from the 90s

Names of the Nineties: Duncan Ferguson

Barring a miracle, we will never see the likes of Duncan Ferguson again, the powerhouse who made watching Everton in the 1990s worthwhile

Names of the Nineties: Dennis Wise

He rarely receives the credit his talent deserves but Dennis Wise helped changed the fortunes of Chelsea in 1990s, forging them back to relevance

Names of the Nineties: Mark Bosnich

Mark Bosnich may look back on his career and wish he’d not let it slip so easily – partly because, at his best, he was a goalkeeper of outstanding quality

Names of the Nineties: Les Ferdinand

Placing Les Ferdinand in the also-ran bracket is to do a disservice to someone who, on his day, was as good as any striker the Premier League has seen

Names of the Nineties: Faustino Asprilla

While consistency was always a problem for Faustino Asprilla, he remains one of Newcastle’s great entertainers from the era of the Entertainers

Names of the Nineties: Patrik Berger

Despite his injury problems, Patrick Berger was a true joy of a 1990s footballer. A man with a look that could kill, you could say

Names of the Nineties: Alan Shearer

He may not have won the trophies that his talent deserved but Alan Shearer remains the most deadly and effective striker in Premier League history

Names of the Nineties: Emerson

Arriving at a time of great promise at Middlesbrough, Brazilian midfielder Emerson would become a cult hero in a single season at the Cellnet

Names of the Nineties: Saša Ćurčić

Saša Ćurčić, a volatile personality and gifted footballer, remains one of the first true instances of the Premier League boom and bust future

Names of the Nineties: Steve Stone

Steve Stone was the generator of Forest’s mid-90s revival, helped power the rise of Portsmouth and was very nearly part of a winning England team at Euro 96

Names of the Nineties: Vinnie Jones

A lengthy YouTube session reminiscing over Vinnie Jones’ antics from the 90s deserves to be screened at Leicester Square as much as any of his movies

Names of the Nineties: Daniel Amokachi

Daniel Amokachi was an Everton gamble who never quite hit the jackpot but was certainly well worth the punt for his FA Cup heroics alone

Names of the Nineties: Stuart Pearce

If somebody wrote a football version of the Art of War, the first page should show Pearce placing the ball on the spot before his penalty against Spain in ’96

Names of the Nineties: David Seaman

That moutstache. That ponytail. David Seaman was truly iconic. And beyond that, he remains one of English football’s greatest goalkeepers

Names of the Nineties: Matthew Le Tissier

Le Tissier was an enigma, an instinctive talent who could defy the norm, and he will go down as one of the finest of the first decade of the Premier League

Names of the Nineties: Ian Wright

From the concrete estates of south London to the summit of the Premier League, Ian Wright is a man who may belong to the 90s but shall never be forgotten

Names of the Nineties: Roy Keane

Roy Keane began the 1990s as a semi-pro footballer in Ireland and ended it as Manchester United’s historic treble-winning captain

 “Why do you want Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood.” Sir Jack Walker