SIMPLY THE BEST

Our top 20 Premiership players of 1995

1

ALAN SHEARER

The modern Roy of the Rovers. Brave, honest, hard-working family man. A fine leader of the line and a deadly goalscorer. Except Al of the Rovers is suffering an international goal drought the like of which never afflicted Roy. Failed to score once for England in 995 and only managed a penalty in six European ties. However, still regarded as the best centre-forward in England, and not just by Terry Venables.

All this and not a whiff of scandal - the sort of boy, as Kenny Dalglish once said, you would be proud to call 'son'.

2

LES FERDINAND

The black-and-white No.9 jersey is a big one to fill but it fits Ferdy like a glove. His goals have taken Newcastle top and banished the memory of Andy Cole. Off the field he remains level-headed, despite suffering a kiss-and-tell in the tabloids (even then he was given a glowing reference). Last season's contribution at QPR not to be overlooked.

3

ROBERT LEE

About once a year Kevin Keegan buys a player for Lee's original position, right wing, and, taking the hint, Lee has moved inside and become the dominant midfield player in the Premiership. Just one worry about the nickname the Newcastle manager has bestowed on a player who scores almost as many goals as he makes: General Lee ended up on the losing side.

4

NICK BARMBY

His judgement may have been questioned when he left Tottenham for Middlesbrough, but Barmby's ability is not in doubt. A sharp finisher who brings out the best in those around him, he has been a key figure at booming Boro and has quickly adapted to the international stage

5

ROBBIE FOWLER

For all Neil Ruddock's services for Liverpool the most important might prove to be the haymaker with which he blackened Fowler's eye and redirected the young striker on the straight and narrow. Has been compared to Jimmy Greaves, who also knew what it was like to be left out on occasions. His left foot is destined for a position of pride in the Anfield Museum.

6

JURGEN KLINSMANN

Left Tottenham chairman Alan Sugar with a cloth to wash his car and the club's supporters with a bucketload of memories when he left for Bayern Munich in the summer. Germany's World Cup-winning striker lit up the Premiership with his goals, his grace and his gift of the gab.

7

STEVE STONE

Overnight success at international level but a slow-burning one at his club. After three broken legs the unassuming Geordie would appear old beyond his years (24) even if he had hair. Deserves his selection for a good year's work with Forest

8

TEDDY SHERINGHAM

Blossoming like the ugly duckling. Once the fans' least favourite England striker (too slow, can't score, Venables' pet), he is now finally receiving recognition for his intelligent linking play. Learned from Klinsmann but playing even better out of the German's shadow. Beginning to score for England as well as Spurs.

9

TONY YEBOAH

At one time the only dilemma facing Yeboah was whether his strikes would be included in the goal of the season or the decade. Since revealing a liking for Yorkshire Pudding (the edible sort, not Brian Deane) however, his rate has declined to mortal proportions and Leeds fans await the time his diet returns to ambrosia. The lull, you suspect, before another storm of goals.

0

DENNIS BERGKAMP

Even during an early goalless spell, which provoked myopic tabloid scorn, he looked too classy to fail in the Premiership. He is already Arsenal's key player: lethally lurking just behind Ian Wright, where his ability to bring colleagues into the game is often reminiscent of Kenny Dalglish. The question for '96 is: can Bruce Rioch rebuild well enough for his side to be similiarly successful?

PETER BEARDSLEY

There are just two things wrong with Beardsley: he is 34, not 24, and his team-mates are sick of Kevin Keegan describing his goals as the best he has ever scored. Still Newcastle's most important player, he runs for ever unpicks defences with the craft of Fagin. Every aspiring England playmaker ought to be made to study him.

2

JAMIE REDKNAPP

Hard to believe he is so young (22) given his composure but he has been around a long time. Neat passer and a resounding striker of the ball. Has fitted into the England team like a veteran. No coincidence that Liverpool slumped during his injury. Unfairly talented and good-looking.

3

RYAN GIGGS

Suffered a disaster at the start of 995 but his hair has grown since and now bears some resemblance to the posters on the walls of a thousand schoolgirl bedrooms. His form has returned with his locks and his dribbles now have the virtue of maturity as well as divine talent. The biggest single reason to believe Manchester United might win the Championship this year.

4

ERIC CANTONA

Risking losing the tag of the Premiership's most controversial Frenchman to David Ginola, Cantona's cunning plan has been to become almost saintly. Still brilliant, he has refrained from kicking opponents or supporters and now looks more likely to kung-fu Lee Sharpe or Andy Cole. At the moment few Manchester United fans would blame him.

5

TONY ADAMS

Has fully outlasted his detractors and is, by some way, the best defender in the League. Strong, determined and surprisingly quick, and his brilliant reading of the game means he is embarrassed far less often than his lumbering image would suggest. His performances in Arsenal's recent European forays bode well for Euro '96.

6

MATTHEW LE TISSIER

It is increasingly hard to recall the fuss when England dropped him last spring. Then he was touted as the man to save England as well as Southampton. Form has since deserted him but he just earns inclusion for a stunning first half of the year. In a changing game his loyalty should be appreciated, even if his career needs a move.

7

MARK DRAPER

If Steve Stone struck a blow for the tonsorially challenged in 995, Draper could do the same next year. Villa's resurgence has helped him realise the potential he showed in a struggling Leicester side. A busy midfielder with vision and flair, he could be Gascoigne's natural successor in the England team

8

COLIN HENDRY

Strong, courageous and commanding, the classic British stopper. At times this season it has seemed like a blond mane against the rest in Rovers' defence. One of the few players to maintain a semblance of his championship form - and, in this case, that meant a lot to live up to. Has also impressed with Scotland.

9 PETER SCHMEICHEL

The biggest, the most agile....and that is just his voice. The highest profile Dane since Hamlet, his own defenders are scared witless by the foghorn behind them, while opposing Premiership players became so intimidated at Old Trafford last season that only Southampton's Simon Charlton beat him. The keeper least likely to say: "Sorry lads, my mistake."

20 RUUD GULLIT

Glenn Hoddle pulled off one of the transfer coups of the decade when he signed Gullit from Sampdoria. A shortage of appearances sent him down our list, but he has already stamped his class on the Premiership. When did the great Dutchman last find himself five places beneath Tony Adams in a list of leading players?

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