Here we take a look back at the top five players who lit up the Premier League for a singular season and even shorter before seemingly moving on to lesser things.
Some of these players can call themselves Premier League champions off the back of their time in the spotlight and some even became club legends. One thing is for sure, these players came, and left just as quickly.
1. Federico Macheda – Manchester United F.CEmbed from Getty Images
The Italian striker burst onto the scene in 2009 for Manchester United against Aston Villa at Old Trafford where he scored a wonder goal to win the game for United with a 2-1 scoreline. This goal forever sealed the cult status of the striker and many fans believe that this goal was ultimately the cause of United winning the title that year. He followed his debut heroics with another goal in United’s next league game again Sunderland just seconds after replacing Dimitar Berbatov.
After the dust had settled on the whirlwind start to Macheda’s United career, he was awarded a four year contract to play for The Red Devils until 2014. Goals and appearances dried up quite quickly and injuries that kept the teenager out for extended periods of time led to him being loaned out to various clubs across Europe. Macheda stayed on United’s books for the full period of his four year contract and eventually joined Cardiff City to team up with fellow former Manchester United striker, Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
Macheda currently plays in the 2nd tier of Italian football with Novara.
2. Michu – Swansea City F.C
It‘s hard to forget the debut season of the Swansea City striker, Michu. He seemed to score in every game for the Swans in any competition. His first season saw him score 22 goals across all competitions, an impressive tally even for a top striker at a so called ‘better team’. The Spaniard also helped his team lift the League Cup for the first time in the Welsh club’s history resulting in him receiving the ‘Player of The Year’ award from his teammates and fans alike.
In 2014, Michu moved away from The Liberty Stadium for seemingly greener pastures with a loan move to Serie A giants, Napoli, but his progress was halted by injury and the striker only managed six appearances for Partenopei Gli Azzurri. Parent club Swansea agreed a financial settlement to release the striker before he joined Langreo in Spain’s fourth tier before eventually retiring at his boyhood club, Oviedo in 2017. As far as one season wonders go in the Premier League, this one is hard to beat.
3. Zaki – Wigan Athletic F.CEmbed from Getty Images
In 2008, the appropriately name ‘Bulldog’ made the loan move to Wigan Athletic of the Premier League from Zamalek, who compete in the Egyptian Premier League. Zaki made a strong impression on his first pre–season tour with the Lancashire club before scoring on his full Premier League debut. The scoring continued throughout his first season finishing the campaign on a respectable 10 goals. There were even murmurs in the first half of the season that he could potentially go on to win the ‘Golden Boot’ award, but the Egyptian‘s hot streak in front of goal began to cool after the busy Christmas period, and the award went to Chelsea’s Nicolas Anelka.
Zaki’s Wigan career took an ugly turn when fall outs with the clubs coaching staff led to fines due to the striker‘s poor punctuality following international duty and the option to buy the player after the initial loan period was not exercised. His only other spell in England was with Hull City on a five month loan that was terminated before its expiration by the Tigers. Zaki announced his retirement after half a season with Arab Contractors in 2015.
4. Charlie Adam – Blackpool F.CEmbed from Getty Images
Charlie Adam was the captain and leader in the impressive promotion of Blackpool Football Club to the Premier League in 2010, and continued his good form with The Tangerines in their first ever season in the top flight. Best know for his vicious set pieces, a perfect blend of brute force and silky finesse, Adam scored 12 goals and made eight assists from midfield. Blackpool were ultimately relegated after one season, finishing 19th overall. Adam got his move to Liverpool where he had one full season, making 28 appearances and only scoring twice.
To be fair, Charlie Adam has had a semi successful Premier League career with Stoke City where he has consistently figured for them but never lived up to his hype gained off the back of his Blackpool days. Sir Alex Ferguson was once quoted saying “his corner kicks are worth £10m” which fuelled the fire surrounding his transfer speculation towards the end of the 2010/11 season. Now at age 32, Adam will undoubtedly be considering his future in football and will definitely look back fondly at his time in the Premier League with the Seasiders.
5. Andrew Johnson – Crystal Palace F.CEmbed from Getty Images
After Crystal Palace’s promotion to the Premier League in 2004, Andrew Johnson was well and truly the spear head of the team. In his first season in England’s top flight, he managed 21 goals in 37 appearances despite The Eagles dropping straight back down to The Championship. The Englishman made his move to Merseyside in 2006 with Everton and then back to London with the likes of Fulham and QPR, but was never able to replicate the razor sharp form in front of goals that he managed with Palace. Fair to say, Andy Johnson had the most prolific ‘One Season Wonder’ on this particular list, especially when you consider he finished second in the Golden Boot race to Thierry Henry and was seven goals clear from third place.
Johnson also went on to represent England eight times. He hasn’t featured for any club since 2015.
Roque Santa Cruz – Blackburn Rovers (2007)
Robinho – Manchester City (2008)
Mido – Tottenham Hotspur (2005)
Michael Johnson – Manchester City (2006)
Graziano Pelle – Southampton (2014)
Written by Joe Threlkeld.