Over the years England's top flight club competition, the Premier League, has seen vast amounts of players come out go. Some of them were absolutely world class, up their with the greatest players of their generation. Some of them, were far from world class, but that's not what this article is about, I decided to look back at the Premier League at put together my ultimate XI.
The team includes past greats who could of walked into any team in the world, there's also some current players who most clubs, given the chance, would love to sign.
My selection for this team is of course my opinion, so feel free to suggest your own Premier League Ultimate XI in the comments section below.
Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel
A must have in any Ultimate XI. Schmeichel made over 290 appearences for Manchester United and even managed to score a goal. He was voted 'World's Best Goalkeeper' in 1992 and 1993 and captained United to the 1999 UEFA Champions League to complete the unheard of treble for the Red Devils that season. Sir Alex paid just £505,000 for Schmeichel in 1991 making him one of United's best ever signings.
Defence: Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Tony Adams, Gary Neville
Considered by critics and his fellow professionals as one of the greatest defenders of his generation. Cole began his youth career at Arsenal and made his full debut for the club in November 1999, going on to make a further 227 appearances, scoring nine goals. With Arsenal he won twoPremier League titles, three FA Cups, and was an integral member of "The Invincibles" team of the 2003–04 season, who went the entire league season undefeated. Cole also made an appearance in Arsenal's first UEFA Champions League final in 2006. In August 2006, after a protracted transfer saga, Cole completed a move to rival club Chelsea, with whom he won further honours, including the Premier League in the 2009–10 season, four FA Cups, one Football League Cup and one UEFA Champions League. With seven winners' medals, Cole has won the FA Cup more times than any other player in history, and is one of two players to have won the Double with two different clubs, along with Nicolas Anelka.
One of the best English defenders ever. Rio joined West Ham in 1996 and became an instant hit with fans, winning 'Hammer of the Year' in the 97-98 season. His performances in defence attracted Leeds United who spent a record-breaking £18 million to sign Ferdinand but only two seasons later Manchester United signed the England international for another record-breaking fee of £30 million. Rio has gone on to make over 280 appearances for the Red Devils and won numerous honours including 5 Premier League titles, 2 League Cup's, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Adams spent his entire playing career of 22 years as a defender at Arsenal. He is considered one of the greatest Arsenal players of all time by the club's own fans and was included in the Football League 100 Legends. With Arsenal, he won four top flight division titles, three FA Cups, two Football League Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, and three FA Community Shields. A statue honouring Adams was unveiled at Emirates stadium on 9 December 2011, along with statues of Thierry Henry and Herbert Chapman.
Neville spent his entire playing career at Old Trafford, making him a rare one-club man. At the time of his retirement in 2011, he was United's second longest serving player in the squad, behind his long-time team-mate Ryan Giggs. He made his international debut in 1995 and was first-choice right-back for club and country for more than ten years. Neville made 400 appearances for Manchester United, winning 8 Premier League titles in the process, along with 3 FA Cup's 2League Cup's and 1 UEFA Champions League title.
Midfield: Ryan Giggs, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, David Beckham
Giggs is the most decorated player in English football history. He also holds the club record for competitive appearances. During his time at United, he has won 12 Premier League winner's medals, four FA Cup winner's medals, three League Cup winner's medals and two Champions League winner's medals. He has two runner-up medals from the Champions League, three FA Cup finals and two League Cup finals, as well as being part of the team five times when it finished second in the Premier League. In recent years, Giggs has captained the team on numerous occasions, particularly in the 2007–08 season when regular captain Gary Neville was ruled out with various injuries.
Gerrard, who has spent his entire career at Anfield, made his debut in 1998 and cemented his place in the first team in 2000, succeeding Sami Hyypiä as team captain in 2003. His honours include two FA Cups, three League Cups, two Community Shields, one Champions League, one UEFA Cup, and two Super Cups. The England international has made over 410 appearances for Liverpool and was hailed by French legend Zinedine Zidane saying:
'Is he the best in the world? He might not get the attention of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo but yes, I think he might be.'
Born in Salford, but later moving to Langley, Scholes excelled in both cricket and football whilst at school. He first trained with Manchester United at the age of 14 after being spotted by a scout visiting his school, signing for them as an apprentice on leaving school in 1991, and turning professional in 1993. He made his full debut for United in the 1994–95 season. He went on to play a key part in the club's Treble-winning success in the 1998–99 season, and has won ten Premier League, three FA Cup and two UEFA Champions League winners medals. Barcelona midfielder Xavi rated Scholes as the best player in his position in the past two decades, stating "A role model. For me, and I really mean this, he's the best central midfielder I've seen in the last 15, 20 years. He's spectacular, he has it all, the last pass, goals, he's strong, he doesn't lose the ball, vision. If he'd been Spanish he might have been rated more highly. Players love him." This sentiment was echoed by Barcelona manager, Josep Guardiola, who considered Scholes to be the best midfielder of his generation.
Beckham's professional career began with Manchester United, making his first-team debut in 1992 aged 17. With United, Beckham won the Premier League title six times, the FA Cup twice, and the UEFA Champions League in 1999. He made over 260 appearances for United and enjoyed huge success with the club before moving to Real Madrid in 2003.
Strikers: Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer
It was at Arsenal that Henry made his name as a world-class footballer. Despite initially struggling in the Premier League, he emerged as Arsenal's top goal-scorer for almost every season of his tenure there. Under long-time mentor and coach Arsene Wenger, Henry became a prolific striker and Arsenal's all-time leading scorer with 228 goals in all competitions. The Frenchman won two league titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners; he was nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year twice, was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year twice, and the FWA Footballer of the Year three times. Henry spent his final two seasons with Arsenal as club captain, leading them to the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final.
A native of Newcastle upon Tyne, Shearer made his professional debut with English top-flight club Southampton in 1988, scoring a hat-trick in the process. During several years on the south coast, he became known for his classic style of play, strength and goalscoring ability; he soon received an international call-up along with a transfer to Blackburn Rovers in 1992. Shearer established himself as a player in northern England; he became a regular in the England squad, and his 34-goal tally helped Blackburn secure the Premier League title in 1994–95. He was named Football Writers' Association Player of the Year in 1994 and won the PFA Player of the Year award in 1995. The 1995–96 season saw Shearer make his first Champions League appearances and finish as the top scorer in the Premier League with 31 goals. He was also top scorer at Euro 1996 with England, scoring five goals, and in the 1996–97 Premier League, with 25 goals. He scored 283 league goals in his career, including a record 260 in the Premier League, and a total of 422 in all competitions including international at all levels. Shearer has amassed a goals to game ratio of 0.667 throughout his career at every level.