FourFourTwo's 100 best foreign Premier League players ever: 80-71
Words: Richard Edwards, Seb Stafford-Bloor, Joe Brewin, Huw Davies, Alex Hess, Jon Spurling.
80. Tino Asprilla
The Colombian was blamed by many for Newcastle’s failure to convert a 10-point lead into title victory in 1995/96, but the somersaulting South American never paid to much attention to the opinions of others. He did, after all, have plenty of his own.
Asprilla’s signing was supposed to be the cherry on top of Newcastle's cake, with his creative talents adding to those of Peter Beardsley and David Ginola. As it was, Asprilla was often the odd man out at St James’ Park, but life was rarely dull with him around and over two seasons in the north-east he wowed and frustrated in equal measure. RE
79. Fredi Kanoute
Memories of Kanoute’s time in England are tinged with questions of what might have been. He left for Spain feeling disenfranchised following Tottenham’s attempt to block his participation in the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations with Mali, and Spurs fans radiated frustration as the striker scored freely for Sevilla while winning consecutive UEFA Cups, knocking out his former employers in the process.
But while he’d peak elsewhere, the laid-back Kanoute was often a joy to behold in the colours of Spurs or West Ham before them, where he top-scored two years running. He had a broad range of talents – skill, speed, hold-up play, goalscoring ability in the air and on the floor – and netted nine times in his first 11 appearances for Tottenham before the relationship turned sour. HD
78. Nwankwo Kanu
"Kanu is a magician," explained former Arsenal team mate Gilberto, "and sometimes I'm not sure he knows what he's going to do next with the ball."
The Nigerian with the telescopic legs was a bewitching force in the Gunners team during the early noughties, often teeing up Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp with mind-boggling dummies and flicks. Many of his own Arsenal goals were also sublime, including a back-heeled volley at Middlesbrough in 1999 and a stupendous hat-trick at Stamford Bridge in his side's incredible 3-2 win.
Kanu demonstrated that there was life after Arsenal, too, netting the Wembley winner to help Portsmouth win the FA Cup in 2008. JS
77. Dietmar Hamann
Not only did the German score the final goal at the old Wembley, he also played a key role in Liverpool’s noughties revival. Signed from Newcastle in 1999, the former Bayern Munich star kept things simple in the Merseysiders' midfield and allowed those in front of him to reek merry havoc in both domestic and continental competition.
He won six major trophies with Liverpool over seven seasons, including the Champions League in 2005 and the 2001 UEFA Cup, before moving on to Manchester City and then, briefly, MK Dons. He would later manage Stockport County. RE