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English Premier League – An Era Of Underrated Players

Shaka Hislop

Shaka Hislop

English Premier League – Rating The Underrated Players

Ever since the Premier League began, we have had the good fortune of watching some of the best footballers play against each other. These players were famous for their many talents on the field and even today, there are so many players in the league that are worshipped and idolised by their fans across the world. Love and support for them only seem to be increasing as commercial factors like merchandising and advertising have come into play. They are endorsing some of the biggest companies while also proving to be marvellous on the field.

Be it a Beckham or a Ronaldo, there appears to be no end to the list of companies wanting them to endorse their products. However, amidst all the glitz and glam, there are some players who get lost. In every field, there are a number of people who do a fair share of the work and walk away with accolades while there are also others who do the real work but get lost somewhere in the middle. Football is no different and even more so in Premier League. Calling them the underdogs seems rather unfair given their contribution, so let’s stick with calling them underrated.

Underrated. That is the favourite word of many pundits to describe a player who does his work on the field but seemingly ends up receiving less credit for it. So, what really makes a player underrated? Is it the lack of endorsement deals or the lack of recognition for their hard work? To understand the answer to that question, one must keep in mind that players have been dubbed ‘underrated’ from a time when the commercial aspect of football hardly mattered.

To take you back in time, Shaka Hislop was one such player. Newcastle United were expected to win the 1995/96 Premier League season but an injury to their goalkeeper Hislop changed the course of their fortune and they failed to make it. Hislop may have won two runners-up medals but he was of pivotal importance for the Magpies as well as his country Trinidad and is arguably one of their best goalkeepers till date. Hislop was not a celebrated player but he was crucial for his teams in an unparalleled sense.

Ray Parlour of Arsenal

Ray Parlour of Arsenal

When it comes to defenders, Bobby Moore is undoubtedly touted as one of England’s best defenders. However, Nottingham Forest fans may disagree. A central defender by trade, Des Walker was famous for making his well-timed surges to manoeuvre the ball away from even the toughest of opponents. In fact, very few central defenders have been able to match his level of craftiness and speed, which further establishes his credentials. And yet, he is not one of the more popular names in football.

Cut to not-so-long ago and you have Emile Heskey. Now, a lot of Liverpool, Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa and Leicester City fans might get put off by the mere mention of his name but the fact remains that his contribution was necessary to every club he played for. He lacked self-belief to a large extent and one cannot really blame him for that. Playing in the Premier League is a tough job as it is and to have scores of fans hating you makes it all the more difficult. However, very few players lacked his creative vision up front and for all that he did, Heskey truly deserves more appreciation.

As long as we are talking about Liverpool forwards, names like Dalglish, Rush and Aldridge come to our mind. And yet one of their most prolific strikers till date continues to be Peter Beardsley. To be honest, he was the one who kept creating scoring outlets for Rush and Aldridge. Without him, could the duo have proven to be as effective? Most likely not.

Speaking of making contributions, we all know of players like Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Pires and Bergkamp. After all, they were all crucial parts of Arsene Wenger’s stunning ‘Invincibles’ side. But how many of us rate Ray Parlour? The midfielder often filled in for either Vieira or Gilberto Silva and often lit up the stadium with his unlimited energy. He always boasted of an important eye for the goal and was truly one of Arsenal’s finest.



This trend of overlooking players making important contributions seems to have continued until today. Unless a player is snazzy enough with blue hair like Tiemoue Bakayoko or possesses the goal-scoring skills like Harry Kane, it seems quite tough for them to shine through and make a name for themselves. One such player in our present crop of the Premier League’s unsung heroes is Harry Arter. He is one of Bournemouth’s most influential players and his energy has been key to a lot of their good fortune this season. He may not score flashy goals but he is the glue that holds the Cherries together.

Even Manchester City’s Fernandinho is underrated in a similar fashion. He does play for an attack-oriented team with some of the best players like Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Raheem Sterling, which often sees his fame get lost amidst all the power up front. But his influence in terms of holding the defence and the attack together has been spectacular to watch this season. Adept at making a mean, tenacious tackle and boasting of smoothness while in possession, Fernandinho can even be regarded as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League right now.

It seems unfair for them to not receive their share of credits but it is what it is. Perhaps even a decade or two down the line, we will have these underrated players who work tirelessly for their team and yet their contributions would not be celebrated as such. Regardless, what makes these players all the more remarkable is the fact that they continue to do their job despite this sense of unfairness.