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First a message from our editor, James Andrew
When the Premier League kicked off for its inaugural campaign on August 15, 1992, just 13 overseas players featured on the opening day. Fast-forward to 2021, and almost 60 per cent of our 100 all-time heroes hail from outside the British Isles, across 27 different countries.
The Premier League may now be unrecognisable from its glitzy launch more than 25 years ago, but that’s only a good thing. Without those thrilling imports, we’d have been poorer for players who have graced the division with glorious goals, superb skills and show-stopping saves.
So, as we wave in a brand new year following a terrible 2020, we thought it best to begin with a celebration – a rundown of the 100 greatest stars since the Premier League’s inception, reviewed by our argumentative team.
En route, we also spoke to David Ginola about his time entertaining at Newcastle and Tottenham, while Denis Irwin tells us of life as a Fergie favourite at Manchester United and demolishing Eric Cantona at chess.
Elsewhere, Nigel Pearson answers your questions, we remember the chaotic reign of ex-American footballer Terry Smith at Chester, and there’s the fascinating story behind the mysterious theft of the original FA Cup trophy, which went unsolved for six decades. Happy new year, and enjoy the issue!
FFT's Premier League 100
England has celebrated league football since 1888-89 – but there’s no doubting that things changed dramatically in 1992. Here, we rank the greatest of greats from 29 years of frolics...
David Ginola: “Spurs fans cried to me”
The Frenchman arrived in England with journalists asking him who he was. After four campaigns of thrilling wing play, they were clambering over one another to vote him the league’s best player. Oh, he was worth it all right...
You Ask The Questions: Nigel Pearson
‘Zola? We’ve got John Spencer!’
Long before Roman Abramovich’s billions and Jose Mourinho’s opinions, there was a tiny Sardinian who transformed the face of Chelsea forever. For seven seasons, Gianfranco Zola weaved his magic as English football watched in awe
There's only one Keano
The unknown teenager Brian Clough called ‘Irishman’ was something special, a fearless and unforgiving leader who epitomised a glorious era at the Theatre of Dreams. There really was no one like him...
"Kan-you believe it?!"
Sky Sports’ Martin Tyler offers his lively highlights behind the mic – including one meeting with a rather unhappy Tino Asprilla...
Denis Irwin: chess grandmaster?
The seven-time Premier League champion tells FourFourTwo about life as Fergie’s favourite, toppling Liverpool, and smashing Eric Cantona at chess
Gary Speed remembered
Ian Murtagh, who has reported on Newcastle for a quarter of a century, remembers a brilliant, beloved figure whose tragic passing shocked the football world almost a decade ago
The man who stole the FA Cup
The mysterious theft of the original trophy went unsolved for 63 years – until a confession from a kleptomaniac pensioner...
Terry Smith at Chester
Screen stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney may be leading Wrexham to a bright new era, but not all Stateside takeovers carry such hope. When one-time NFL player Terry Smith rescued struggling Chester in 1999, he also installed himself as manager, with painful results
In the Players Lounge...
Jamie Redknapp recalls his "big mistake" pie misery at Goodison Park, ex-Arsenal midfielder Denilson opens up on his battles with loneliness in north London, QPR hero Danny Dichio talks Sampdoria, while Dutch goal-getter Roy Makaay offers up his top sandwich tips
Yep, there's more...
Former Barcelona and Chelsea right-back Juliano Belletti picks a Perfect XI of his finest team-mates, Park Ji-sung recalls the greatest games of his life, Australian ace Sam Kerr explains why she used to hate football, Spurs fan Mat Horne remembers the time Clive Allen ruined his life... and Jon Parkin reveals his surprising Agadoo chip shop experience.
We also bring you our regular quiz, and more of the best stories from Planet Football.
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