Winning as a team is great or whatever, but sometimes you just can’t beat a bit of individuality. Even if that individuality only works out one time in ten.
Individual brilliance is what football lacks a little these days amongst all the focus on the boring stuff like pressing, running and trying to pass around teams. Boring.
The famous meme ‘the streets won’t forget’ recognises an elite genre of ballers who exclusively fall under the bracket of individualistic, crowd-pleasing entertainers.
Grab your white sock tape and your pint of Barclays, because 90min has collected 30 players from the Premier League that the streets won’t ever forget…
The towel coming out meant trouble was coming | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Starting the list with perhaps the least typical ‘streets won’t forget’ player in the running.
Rory Delap became a cult hero for one thing and one thing only – his absurdly long throw-ins. Genuinely no need for it. Bring them back.
Gudjohnsen slips under the radar | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images
It feels a little sneaky including the Icelandic forward, but his CV allows him to qualify.
Gudjohnsen has been around the houses in England, playing for Chelsea and Tottenham, but also plying his trade for the likes of Bolton and Stoke. Scored plenty of goals, including an obscene bicycle kick against Leeds in 2003. Baller.
Beast. | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
The Spaniard only spent one season at Manchester City in 2013/14, but he made the stay an impactful one.
Showed up, bagged 23 goals in all competitions and didn’t score after January, then left as a fan favourite at the end of the season. Also nicknamed ‘beast’ among some fans, which further ticks the boxes.
Juninho was a star | Ben Radford/Getty Images
Truthfully, Juninho is probably too good to qualify for a list like this. Yep, too good at football to make a football list.
He’s still going in though, because his first stint with Middlesbrough in 1995 remains iconic to this day and earned him immediate club legend status. The Brazilian ripped it apart for the Teesiders.
Michael Carrick is right to be terrified here | Michael Regan/Getty Images
Probably too good to be in this list, but playing under the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo meant Nani was never truly appreciated.
Unapologetically skilful, loved a long shot and regularly used celebrations that would drive Sir Alex Ferguson up the wall at the thought of them causing injury. See also: plenty of white sock tape. Class.
Kasami watches his spectacular volley | Clive Rose/Getty Images
The Swiss midfielder largely goes under the radar, but met the threshold for ‘streets won’t forget’ status with a serious effort.
Kasami scored one of the greatest volleys in Premier League history against Crystal Palace in 2013, plucking a long ball out of the air with his chest and smashing it into the back of the net while moving away from goal.
Diop is a Premier League hero | Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Passing away in 2020 at just 42, nobody will forget Papa Bouba Diop’s Premier League legacy.
The Senegalese midfielder was always keen on a long shot and became a cult hero following stints with Fulham and Portsmouth. A foot like a traction engine.
Kranjcar could hit them | Michael Regan/Getty Images
Ah yes, the son Harry Redknapp never had.
Where there was a job opening available for Redknapp, there was a transfer for Kranjcar. The Croatian was versatile and a tidy hand for a few skills and the occasional long range stunner, winning the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008.
Boateng celebrates his penalty | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Another one that boasts a properly wild CV, Kevin-Prince Boateng has played in just about every corner of the world.
For someone that was so good at places like AC Milan, he failed to knuckle down at Tottenham. He never truly hit the heights in his sole season at Portsmouth either, but bagged a vital penalty at Wembley to send them to the FA Cup final amid financial disarray.
Geovanni, the best player you’d forgotten about | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
The tricky Brazilian played for Manchester City right before their financial takeover and became a cult hero for bagging the only goal in a 1-0 win in the Manchester derby in 2007.
Moved to Hull the following season and absolutely tore the Premier League to shreds, and scored a ridiculous long range effort against Arsenal, before fading into absolute obscurity by 2010.
The Saints could’ve done with him for a little longer | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images
Nobody talks about how good Manolo Gabbiadini was for Southampton.
Built like a man mountain, the Italian forward was always the man for a goal in the big moments and bagged a brace at Wembley in a 3-2 League Cup final defeat to Manchester United in 2017. Departed as quickly as he arrived, which stopped him from ever being more than a highlight reel player.
How on earth did Bolton end up with Djorkaeff? | Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Inconsistent? Sure. Difficult for managers to find his best position? Perhaps, but who’s bothered when you have a player as skilful as Youri Djorkaeff?
He spent two years with Bolton from 2002 to 2004 off the back of winning the World Cup and the Euros with France. In a strange mid-life crisis for Sam Allardyce, he built a side blessed with off the charts levels of flair that involved Djorkaeff. Just go and watch his goals for the Wanderers, it’s the best thing you’ll do all week.
Zaki looked a serious bit of business for a very short while | Stu Forster/Getty Images
Having impressed with the Egyptian national team and in his native league in the mid-2000s, Wigan snapped up Amir Zaki on loan in 2008.
In a whirlwind season, there were thrills and spills. Zaki went on a tear early in the season after scoring on his debut and earned a comparison to Alan Shearer from club chairman Dave Whelan, before falling off and being lambasted by Steve Bruce for being unprofessional. All the components needed to be a Premier League icon.
Pelle was a gunman | Catherine Ivill – AMA/Getty Images
Before Gabbiadini, there was Graziano Pelle.
Ripped the Barclays apart for two seasons with Southampton, who unfortunately fell victim to the financial power of the Chinese Super League when they snatched him in 2016. Pelle was a serious bagsman.
Larsson loved a set piece | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Sebastian Larsson walked so that James Ward-Prowse could run.
The Swede kept the Barclays alive in the 2000s with his set pieces, scoring three free-kicks in one season for Birmingham in 2007. Continued to only produce set pieces and wonder goals after signing for Sunderland in 2011, which football needs more of.
Figueroa was key for the Latics | Alex Livesey/Getty Images
The Honduran defender earned icon status with Wigan from 2008 to 2013, operating like prime Paolo Maldini throughout their highs and lows.
Figueroa had an absolute rocket of a shot on him and scored from his own half against Stoke in 2009. He’s since wound things down in the MLS, but is still playing regular football at 38 years old.
Colombian Rodallega was a fan favourite | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Another heroic name from Wigan’s emphatic run in the Premier League before they came crashing down, Hugo Rodallega’s exploits put the club on the map in Colombia.
A right foot that belongs in the WWE Hall of Fame, Rodallega exclusively scored bangers for Wigan. It didn’t go so well following a transfer to Fulham, but we can look past that. Has since become a cornerstone in Turkish football.
Pogrebnyak is a forgotten hero | GLYN KIRK/Getty Images
Up there with one of the coolest names in the sport, ‘the Pog’ made a short but sweet – and instant – impact with Fulham that can never be forgotten.
Signed in January. Bagged on his debut. Bagged again. Oh, want three in three? Have a perfect hat-trick to make it five in three. January signings are a curse? Yeah right.
Bolasie showed serious promise with Palace | Ian Walton/Getty Images
Bolasie has done very little of note since moving to Everton for £25m in 2016, but that’s fine, because he was a cheat code at Crystal Palace.
The winger played football at Palace like it was a video game, regularly sending defenders to A&E with sore ankles with absurd flicks and tricks. He literally invented the ‘Bolasie flick’.
Tugay was a fierce midfielder | Gary M. Prior/Getty Images
Blackburn legend Tugay is a proper throwback.
The long haired Turkey international could play anywhere in midfield and gained a reputation for not scoring that often, but making it count when he did. Exclusively worldies only throughout the 2000s.
Blackburn icon | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Sticking with the Rovers, Roque Santa Cruz is one of football’s finest one season wonders.
After almost a decade on the books at Bayern, Blackburn snapped up the Paraguayan who was an instant hit. Santa Cruz danced around defenders throughout the league and smashed home 19 goals and seven assists in the 2007/08 season. It earned him a move to Manchester City, and he never put a campaign like that together again. Perfection.
Feed the Yak and he will score | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Real ones remember – and still fear – The Yak.
Blackburn love a cult hero and Yakubu was just that for them. The Nigerian forward balled out for Portsmouth and Middlesbrough, before moving to Everton and picking shirt number 22 – a target of goals to score. Blackburn came calling in 2011, but his 17 goals weren’t enough to keep them in the Premier League.
Iconic | Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Balled out at Euro 2008 to earn a move to Arsenal, which then looked like a fine piece of business for Arsene Wenger.
Andrey Arshavin never truly knuckled down as expected, but showed his brilliance in flashes. He put four past Liverpool in 2009 and helped turn a Champions League tie against Barcelona on its head by scoring a winner at the Emirates in 2011.
Bring back two-man strike partnerships | Stu Forster/Getty Images
Okay, we’re cheating a bit, but the pair are strictly a package deal for their exploits at Newcastle.
Ba and Cisse set the Premier League alight as a duo in 2011/12, scoring 29 goals between them to replace the departed Andy Carroll with ease. Endlessly fun and capable of doing absurd things, they’re the Hardy Boyz of the football world.
Bolton had a serious team during the Okocha days | Michael Steele/Getty Images
So good they named him twice.
Lining up with Djorkaeff at Bolton was Jay-Jay Okocha, who regularly made a mockery of defences in the Premier League for the 2000s and perhaps has the most entertaining highlight reel to watch of all. Seriously, Sam Allardyce put that Bolton team together. Big Sam.
Michu was the ultimate one season wonder | Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Michu walked so Erling Haaland could run. Seriously.
Haaland cites Michu as one of his inspirations growing up, which is testament to just how good he was in that one season for Swansea in 2012/13. 18 league goals and an iconic celebration that he never came close to repeating.
Everyone’s favourite Norwegian | David Rogers/Getty Images
When you saw the frosted tips, white sock tape and baggy Blackburn shirt stood over that dead ball, you knew it was over.
Blackburn love a cult hero player, and Morten Gamst Pedersen was exactly that. An icon of the Barclays, Pedersen wasn’t always at the races, but when he was, that left foot was unstoppable.
What could’ve been had Payet not left West Ham… | Julian Finney/Getty Images
The only reason Payet doesn’t top this list is because he should never have been included.
The Frenchman was out of this world for West Ham in 2015/16 and no defender could stop him. It looked like he was destined to become the Premier League’s next big talent, but he instead moved back to Marseille in 2017 and never found those levels again. A shame, really.
Ben Arfa was a menace | Stu Forster/Getty Images
Anthony Martial wearing black gloves is a direct impersonation of Hatem Ben Arfa at Newcastle. It’s that simple.
The Frenchman had a tough time and broke his leg in his first season with the Magpies, but bounced back in 2011/12 and brought an unrivalled flair to the Premier League. His solo goal against Bolton stood out, and his form continued into further seasons before fading into nothing in 2014.
Prime Taarabt was different gravy | Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Topping the list is the undisputed king of the streets.
Adel Taarabt’s time at Queens Park Rangers will never be forgotten. The silky Moroccan was gliding through lines every week and brought an unapologetic level of skill to the Premier League. It fell apart post-QPR, but he’s since recovered his career at Benfica, now as a hard-working defensive midfielder.