11 Premier League players you won't believe never made the PFA Team of the Year
LB - Nigel Winterburn
Winterburn wasn’t making up the numbers in his 584 Arsenal appearances
Many would argue there was no separating Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn in that famous 1990s Arsenal back four. Well, apart from the centre-backs, obviously. They separated them.
While Dixon’s attacking initiative and ability to score incredible own goals probably gave him the edge, Winterburn wasn’t making up the numbers in his 584 Arsenal appearances. Sadly, just as Tony Adams was in four PFA Teams of the Year and Martin Keown none, Winterburn didn’t receive the recognition that Dixon did.
CM - Xabi Alonso
His calmness in possession and occasional hankering for an outrageous goal didn’t go unnoticed in England
The Spaniard never made a PFA Team of the Year during his five seasons at Anfield. Fortunately, his mantelpiece is pretty full anyway.
There’s no doubt Alonso really hit his straps at Real Madrid, but his calmness in possession and occasional hankering for an outrageous goal didn’t go unnoticed in England – except in the PFA awards, where his Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard took the plaudits.
Still, it’s not as if foreign midfielders integral to their team were regularly overlooked...
CM - Claude Makelele
It's both unsurprising and oddly appropriate that the crucial part Makelele played in Chelsea’s mid-2000s success went unnoticed in the PFA awards
No, wait – it’s exactly like that.
It's both unsurprising and oddly appropriate that the crucial part Makelele played in Chelsea’s mid-2000s success went unnoticed in the PFA awards each year. Bought from Real Madrid by Claudio Ranieri, the midfielder drove the Blues to consecutive league titles under Jose Mourinho, with his tenacity, tackling and knowledge of the game – and his place in it – giving his team-mates the freedom to attack, often under his own direction.
However, the Frenchman was invisible to all except his team-mates (there’s a reason Real Madrid’s players were distraught to see him sold). The greatest trick Makelele ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist. Well, that and reinventing the role of the central midfielder.
AM - Gianfranco Zola
Zola had talent, drive and a winning mentality that helped Chelsea to end their 25-year wait for a trophy
Yes, it’s another Chelsea player – yet this one’s a surprise. Zola, with his obvious footballing skill, exciting attacking ability and all-round nice-guy persona, seems like exactly the kind of guy who’d win votes from every player. Apparently not.
Zola had talent, drive and a winning mentality that helped Chelsea to end their 25-year wait for a trophy and claim four in four seasons, yet that wasn’t enough for the Italian to make one PFA Team of the Year.
Intriguingly, the same period saw Roberto Di Matteo, Gus Poyet and Marcel Desailly also miss out. Everybody hates Chelsea, it seems.