The biggest and most shocking omissions as fans select Premier League all-time XI
Any way you swing it, some huge names miss out.
It has been 30 years since the Premier League was launched and, with that anniversary in mind, several outlets went to their followers and tasked them with selecting an all-time XI.
The task is a purely subjective one. Even compiling a list of nominees for each position often requires leaving out proven Premier League stars, and players with heaps of big-time contributions and medals to back up some strong arguments.
People picking their best team from 30yrs @premierleague stop putting Thierry Henry left wing, he played centre forward 😡
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) August 13, 2022
Once the shortlist of nominees was drawn up, the fans were tasked with voting for their Best XI. While the BBC allowed users to select a formation, BT went with a straight 4-3-3 and asked their followers to vote on areas of goalkeeper, defence, midfield and attack.
Combined, voting for those two XIs is nearing 500,000 and many more continue to make their picks. Based off their votes, here are the players selected:
Premier League all-time XI
Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry/Virgil Van Dijk, Ashley Cole
Patrick Vieira, Steven Gerrard, Kevin de Bruyne
Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo/Mo Salah
Nine of the 11 spots are filled by the same players, with the only points of difference being John Terry and Cristiano Ronaldo in one team, and Virgil Van Dijk and Mo Salah in the other.
In both polls, Thierry Henry got the most votes. Van Dijk received the most votes for a defender in the BT poll, while Patrick Vieira also received the most midfield votes. Over on the BBC, Peter Schmeichel got more than 50% of the votes for the No.1 jersey.
The biggest omissions in fans' Premier League XIs
To our mind, the biggest surprises in those Premier League all-time XI selections were Gary Neville and Steven Gerrard. Both were class players and won the respect of their peers by fronting up over long stretches.
However, Roy Keane and Frank Lampard would both have to be considered extremely hard done by in missing out on midfield spots. As the years pass, Keane is being looked upon as many fans in their 30 and 40s thought Graeme Souness must have been like - an enforcer and a no-nonsense leader. The former Manchester United captain certainly ticked both boxes, but he was a wonderful passer, brave on the ball and scored plenty of vital goals.
Lampard scored 149 Premier League goals from midfield, including 22 in one season. The evolution of the right-back role has seen Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold make names for themselves with an abundance of attacking talent.
It is only when you look at some of the players that missed out when you truly realise how tough a task it is to chose an all-time Premier League XI.
For example, here is a team containing 11 of the top stars that were heavily voted on, but missed out in the final tally.
Alternative Premier League all-time XI
Even with the 13 players that made the final XIs from those big fan polls, and the 11 named in our alternative XI, there are a host of brilliant players left out. To name just 10:
- Sol Campbell
- Yaya Toure
- Wayne Rooney
- David Silva
- Ryan Giggs
- Freddie Ljunberg
- Xabi Alonso
- Paul Scholes
- Ruud van Nistlerooy
- Sergio Aguero
For the record, and with apologies to Denis Irwin and David Silva, this is the Premier League all-time XI that I selected.
An almost impossible task, but that is the beauty of all-time lists.
"I think he sees me as one of his sons or something"
Micah Richards on what it is like working with Roy Keane on Sky Sports.