The 1990’s was somewhat of a golden era for the English top flight and we’ve picked out our top five footballers of the decade.
5) Patrick Vieira – Arsenal
Arsene Wenger took the reins at Arsenal in the summer of 1996, replacing Bruce Rioch, and he made signing Vieira one of his top priorities.
Vieira left his homeland of France for AC Milan in 1995 but he struggled to settle and spent a large part of the campaign playing for the reserves.
He was more than happy to accept Wenger’s call, joining Arsenal for £3.5million, and he established himself as a dominant box-to-box midfielder during a nine-year stay in north London.
The France international’s height and physicality made him the perfect fit for the Premier League and he was the driving force behind Arsenal’s success.
Arsenal won the Premier League title and FA Cup in 1997-98 as Vieira made 35 appearances across the two competitions.
Vieira, who helped the Gunners to win a further four pieces of major silverware in the noughties, was named in the PFA Team of the Year for 1998-99 and 1999-2000.
4) Dennis Bergkamp – Arsenal
A graduate of Ajax’s famous academy, Bergkamp joined Arsenal in 1995 after developing with the Dutch club and then earning experience with Inter Milan.
He departed Highbury with legendary status, illustrated by his statue outside of the Emirates, after scoring 120 goals in 423 appearances.
Bergkamp only managed to score more than 20 goals during one season with Arsenal, however, his all-round performance gets him on this list.
The Dutchman, who was nicknamed the non-flying Dutchman due to his fear of flying, was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
3) Peter Schmeichel – Manchester United
Schmeichel enjoyed eight glorious seasons on the books of Manchester United.
The great Dane departed at the end of 1998-99 after playing a crucial role in helping the club to win an historic treble.
He proudly wore the captain’s armband in the dramatic Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich, and his cartwheel in celebration of the winning goal is an iconic image of the 90s.
An imposing figure, Schmeichel was known to be a fierce competitor and he could often be heard screaming at his defenders after being called into action with his famous starfish style save.
The stopper won 10 major pieces of silverware during his time at Old Trafford, including five league titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup and one Champions League.
2) Alan Shearer – Southampton/ Blackburn/ Newcastle
This list wouldn’t be complete without Shearer, a true great of the English game, who to this day – despite retiring in 2006 – is still the Premier League’s record goalscorer.
Shearer, who scored over 30 goals in three consecutive seasons between 1993 and 1996, started his career with Southampton in 1998 before making the switch to Blackburn for an English transfer record-breaking £3.6million in 1992.
It’s understood that Manchester United were in the running for his services but he opted for Rovers and helped them to win the Premier League title in 1994-95.
He won PFA Player of the Year in 1995 and came third in both Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1996.
The hitman eventually got his dream move to Newcastle in 1996 for a then world record £15million and he saw out his career with the Magpies, registering 206 goals in 405 games.
1) Eric Cantona – Leeds/ Manchester United
King Eric, as he was affectionately nicknamed by Manchester United fans, was a physically strong and technically gifted fontman.
Sheffield Wednesday famously turned down the chance to sign Cantona after he spent two days training and playing an indoor tournament with the club in 1991.
That proved to be a big mistake as he joined Leeds in January 1992 and helped them to win the First Division title during the second half of that campaign.
He left Elland Road to join fierce rivals Manchester United for £1.2million in November 1992.
With his collar up and the famous number seven on his back, the Frenchman helped the Red Devils to win four Premier League titles and two FA Cups in five years.
Cantona’s exploits on the field were always competing with his actions off the field and he will also be remembered for launching a kung-fu style kick at a Crystal Palace fan in January 1995.