After the first part of classic Premier League footballers was well received, I decided to continue the series. Here are five more greats from memory lane:
The Brazilian central midfielder came to the Premier League during the Bryan Robson days and set the league alight, for a few months at least. Joining up with his Brazilian pals in an exciting time at Boro, Emerson had a classic footballing name and a strong physical presence. One of my favorite players as a youngster, Emerson moved around the pitch and pinged an old school Mitre captured everybody’s attention. I enjoyed watching him roam the pitch with that big floppy head of hair. Every time I scored a goal from twenty yards, I’d shout ‘Emerson!’ in my best commentary voice.
He left the Riverside after a slightly bitter period where he had attempted to force a move to big bullies Barca. He ended up at Tenerife, a popular holiday destination for Brits, fitting for a man that promised so much but in reality delivered little more than showmanship. I’m not sure what he’s up to now. After firing through a string of clubs, he’s probably back in Portugal with his wife, sitting around reminiscing about when he used to have hair. “Remember that time I was Portuguese Player of the Year? Put the kettle on!”
2. Pierre Van Hooijdonk
He looked a little like a muscular Ronaldinho. Pierre was another one that could eat an apple through a letterbox. He also knew how to find the net. Relegated in his first season with Nottingham Forest, when he joined they were already in deep trouble, drawing their way to Championship football. He blitzed it in the Championship, netting over thirty times and maintaining his place in the Netherlands side while playing in the second tier of English football. It would be interesting to know how many players have achieved that.
Forest were again relegated from the Premiership in a season that was plagued by bad blood between Van Hooijdonk and the club. Unhappy with the summer business, he refused to play and intermittently appeared for the side until leaving at the end of another relegation season.
The Dutchman went on to have a good career scoring everywhere he went. Across Europe, he never failed to deliver.
He is now co-owner of a company called Gino-b that sells sneakers. Not my cup of tea. Check him out on Twitter; he has adopted the old school Emerson hair style.
3. Tim Sherwood
Tim Sherwood deserves a mention as he is making a decent fist of it at Tottenham Hotspur. Sherwood captained Blackburn to the Premier League title in 1994-95, receiving a spot in the PFA Team of the Year. That was as good as it got for the combative midfielder. And from there he played for Tottenham, winning nothing before achieving a promotion with Portsmouth near the end of his playing days.
Tottenham fans will be hoping he can turn things round. And with a very useful squad down at White Hart Lane, there’s every chance of him doing so. Getting Emmanuel Adebayor playing is a small victory in itself.
4. Nathan Blake
Nathan Blake had average stats on Championship Manager 00/01 but always scored against me. But that wasn’t something he regularly did in real life. Blake seemed to attract relegation — some players drift between clubs in relegation battles. Footballers are like water. They always find their level. Nathan’s level was just above the Championship but unfortunately just below the quality of the Premier League.
His Premier League career had begun before his Championship Manager days when he joined Sheffield United in a relegation season. He later joined Bolton, in a relegation season. Promotion followed, as did relegation. His big frame failed to make up for his lack of technical ability and he forged a name as a grafting front man, not a goal scorer. A big money move saw him in the Premier League again with Blackburn; it doesn’t take a genius to guess what happened next. Following that drop, he moved to Wolves and won promotion a year later. That was proceeded by relegation from the Premier League, making it the magic five relegations for big Blakey, furnishing him the prestigious label of the most relegated Premier League player.
Blake now runs his own property business in Cardiff; However I wouldn’t stay in one of his houses as it might go down.
5. Faustino Asprilla
Tino’s full name is Faustino Hernán Asprilla Hinestroza. The Colombian international came to the Premier League in 1996 for a deal just under £7 million from Italian outfit Parma. He only stuck around for a couple of years and scored a handful of goals in his time at St James’s Park.
The fondest memories Newcastle fans have of him come from the out-stretched leg that grabbed a goal in an epic 4-3 loss to Liverpool. They’ll also remember his hat-trick against Barcelona in a 3-2 win at home. Other than that, his era at Newcastle United was filled with controversy and off field capers. On Championship Manager 00/01, you could pick him up for £200-500k from Al Nasser and he was only 31 — the bargain of that year’s game. The only problem is that he would sometimes miss training and if you tried to fine him for it, he would ask for a transfer. He had a few days off a month on my game, and I’m ashamed to say they would go unpunished as I was too afraid to lose him.
The real madness started after his time on Tyne. He has been involved in so many different things off the pitch that he didn’t really maintain a steady footballing career. He hammered through eight different clubs in numerous countries. After that it got even worse. His rap sheet included drugs, guns, reality TV, pornography and Darlington FC. He was arrested for possession of a weapon after firing a gun from his farm in Colombia. I don’t know which is worse, that he got his mini Tino out or that he almost played for Darlington.