FourFourTwo's 100 best foreign Premier League players ever: 100-91
Words: Richard Edwards, Jon Spurling, Seb Stafford-Bloor, Huw Davies, Chris Flanagan, Alex Hess.
100. Park Ji-Sung
The Korean’s arrival for just £4m in 2005 helped the Premier League to become a sensation back home – so much so, Alex Ferguson had to deny he’d been signed to boost Manchester United’s shirt sales in Asia. True enough, Park’s near-infinite reservoir of attacking running, defensive diligence and tactical intelligence made him a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford.
He was a manager’s favourite, too, his importance growing as years passed and, paradoxically, first-team outings became rarer. In a squad packed with natural talent, it was Park who started the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals, after Ferguson admitted that leaving the midfielder out of the 2008 showpiece was the hardest decision he’d ever made. AH
99. Sylvain Wiltord
Following his protracted £13m transfer from Bordeaux, completed weeks after he’d scored France’s winner in the Euro 2000 Final, Arsenal’s then-record signing sometimes appeared to labour in the lengthy shadow of his Bleus team-mate, Thierry Henry. Wiltord, a winger, expressed a desire to play as a central striker, only to be regularly rebuffed by Arsene Wenger.
Yet Gunners fans owe Wiltord a huge debt of gratitude for his goals in their team’s Double-winning campaign. His freakish winner at Goodison Park in February sparked Arsenal's 13-match winning run, and his decisive strike at Old Trafford in May 2002 confirmed the Londoners as Premier League champions. JS
98. Andrei Kanchelskis
The flying winger made defenders' lives miserable after joining Manchester United in March 1991, and played an oft-forgotten part in the club’s transformation into serial winners.
Kanchelskis lifted two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the League Cup before leaving United a healthy profit, Everton paying a club-record £5m for their £650,000 investment. His superb performances in the Toffees’ impressive 1995/96 campaign drew illustrious suitors, and after moving to Fiorentina for £8m he’d return to England only for fleeting spells with Manchester City and Southampton.
Most important of all, however, Kanchelskis patented not one but two of the most pointless skills ever seen on a football pitch. RE
97. Peter Ndlovu
While the name might mean little to today’s generation, Ndlovu brought class when foreign players were a Premier League rarity. He’d go on to win 100 caps for Zimbabwe, but even as a teenager he was key for Coventry City (another name who’ll resonate with few Premier League fans today).
In a struggling side Ndlovu was a constant nuisance, if not a prolific one, to opposition defences. The striker was largely responsible for maintaining Cov’s 34-year residence in the top flight, before dropping a division in 1997 to improve Birmingham, then Sheffield United. He’s still remembered fondly in the Midlands. RE