With Paddy’s day upon this weekend, there is no better way to kick off this new regular feature than by looking at the top five Irish players to play in the Premier League.
On the 17th March the pints will be flowing, the mood will be jolly and the conversation full of debate. One such debate will surely be centred around great Irish footballers.
The Premier League era has seen many accomplished players from across the Irish Sea grace the pitch, and this article proposes the (Irish) cream of the crop.
In no particular order…..
Sir Alex Ferguson once said of Keane that “The hardest part of Roy’s body is his tongue”. It is easy to forget amongst all the feuds, fighting and bizarre criticism of his own teammates that Roy Keane was once a quality Premier League player.
A lynchpin of Manchester United’s midfield, Keane made 326 Premier League appearances and amassed a total of 17 trophies during his time at Old Trafford, including seven Premier League medals. His tenacity and sheer combativeness on the pitch turned him into a United legend.
The passion showed in performances sometimes resulted in ugly exchanges, most notably with Manchester City’s Alf Inge Haland, and Arsenal’s Patrick Viera. However, when his trophy record and legendary status amongst United fans is considered, he has to be in contention for one of the best Irish players to feature in the Premiership.
Shay GivenEmbed from Getty Images
With over 450 Premier League appearances some would say that it’s a ‘Given’ (sorry) that stalwart keeper Shay should feature on this list.
Given was considered one of the best stoppers of the Premier league era during his prime, appearing for Newcastle, Manchester City and Aston Villa throughout his accomplished Premier League tenure. Despite minimal honours during his career, Given produced a number of quality performances which drew admiration across the football scene.
Coupled with his impressive Premier League appearances, Shay Given was No.1 for the Boys in Green for the best part of 20 years, cementing his place as one of the best Irish goalkeepers in recent times.
Robbie KeaneEmbed from Getty Images
Robbie Keane currently holds the title of being the world’s most expensive Irishman, transferring to Liverpool from Tottenham Hotspur for £19 million in 2008. Despite a disappointing time at Liverpool, he is still considered one of the best ever Irish strikers.
Keane was most prolific for Spurs, but also featured for Aston Villa, Coventry, Leeds, and Liverpool in the Prem. An impressive 126 goals in over 349 appearances makes Keane the highest scoring Irishman to play in the Premiership, definitely warranting him a place on the list.
Damien DuffEmbed from Getty Images
The next player to feature in the top five is Irish wizard Damien Duff. Following impressive performances at Blackburn Rovers, Duff earned a move to Chelsea in 2003 for a hefty £17 million.
Duff’s three seasons at Chelsea can certainly be regarded as a success, winning two Premier League medals and plenty of plaudits for his intelligent and pacy playing style. Despite playing a large role under Mourinho, Duff was shipped out to Newcastle and spent three seasons at St James Park, before finishing his Premier League career at Fulham in 2014.
John O’SheaEmbed from Getty Images
Waterford born John O’Shea signed for Manchester United as a 17-year-old and spent 12 successful years at Old Trafford, accruing 15 major trophies.
The definition of a versatile footballer, O’Shea featured in almost every position for United, including up-front and even as an emergency keeper. His consistency and willingness on the pitch resulted in great praise from the United faithful and Sir Alex himself.
O’Shea had many great moments during his Premier league career, including his stoppage time winner at Anfield in 2007, and his outrageous chip against Arsenal in 2006.
Written by Calum Ridgewell.