The EPL is one of the most exciting leagues in the world. Since the rebranding of the old First Division in 1992, a lot of good players have landed upon English shores to play the competition.
Superstars like Jurgen Klinsmann and Dennis Bergkamp arrived in England in the 90s and immediately changed the landscape of English club football. The EPL has also provided the stage to budding talents like Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo to flourish.
Exceptional talents and performances in the EPL are often rewarded at the end of the season with votes from journalists, fans and fellow competitors. The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Players' Player of the Year award is arguably the biggest of them all. It allows fellow players and members of the Professional Footballers' Association to choose the best player in an EPL season.
However, there have been times when a few deserving candidates who had spectacular seasons missed out on the accolade. In this article, we take a look at 5 EPL players who were unlucky not win the coveted award:
Five EPL players who were unlucky not to win the PFA Player's Player of the Year Award:
#5 Dimitar Berbatov (2010-11)
Winner that season: Gareth Bale
An enigma of sorts, Dimitar Berbatov, was a technically gifted player: a player who just could not score bad goals. Although criticised by some corners for not being as hard-working as Carlos Tevez or Wayne Rooney, Berbatov was a player who could pick his moments to showcase his supreme vision and technique.
Sir Alex Ferguson was a massive fan of the Bulgarian. After two fruitful seasons with Tottenham where Berbatov scored 46 goals, Fergie knew he had to add the striker to his Arsenal. Up until the 2010-11 campaign, Berbatov had had a decent couple of seasons at Old Trafford. But the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez gave Berbatov the perfect opportunity to unleash his brilliance.
The Bulgarian smashed in 20 EPL goals in 32 appearances, ultimately sharing the golden boot with then-teammate Carlos Tevez. His major highlights included hat-tricks against Birmingham City and Liverpool (3-2 victory) as well as a five-goal haul against a hapless Blackburn Rovers.
To make matters special, United won their 19th EPL title to go past Liverpool, and in doing so, no team scored more goals than them in that league campaign. When it came to individual awards though, the players voted in favour of Welshman Gareth Bale for the PFA Players' Player of the Year award.
Although Bale had played a starring role in Tottenham's adventures in Europe, including a hat-trick against holders Inter Milan, his EPL statistics for the season were decent at best. Seven goals and one assist and a 5th-place league finish didn't stack up against a golden boot and an EPL-winning striker.
#4 Robert Pires (2001-02)
Winner that season: Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Arsenal, in their memorable double-winning campaign in 2001-02, were brimming with talent from top to bottom. With the likes of Thierry Henry, Denis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira in their lineup, most defences used to have sleepless nights before facing the Gunners.
After Manchester United's three EPL titles on the spin, it was Arsenal's turn to wrestle back the EPL from their arch-rivals. Pires and Henry were at the forefront for the Gunners, supplying goals and assists aplenty that season.
Into his second season at the Highbury, Arsenal's then home ground, Pires chipped in with nine league goals, including vital equalisers against rivals Spurs and Leeds United. The Frenchman also finished as the EPL's top assist maker that season, setting up 15 goals for his teammates despite playing in only 28 games.
Although the football journalists deemed Pires to be the best player that season (he won the FWA Footballer of the Year), his peers thought otherwise.
Ruud van Nistelrooy, after a successful introduction into English football with Manchester United, won the PFA Players' Player of the Year. Although the Dutchman had a successful season individually, scoring 23 EPL goals, he wasn't the top scorer in the 2001-02 EPL season. That accolade went to Thierry Henry.
Furthermore, it was Manchester United's worst league finish in the EPL era up until then, finishing the season in third place, behind Arsenal and Liverpool.
#3 Nemanja Vidic (2008-09)
PFA Players' Player of the Year Winner that year: Ryan Giggs.
From 2006-2011, Nemanja Vidic was undoubtedly the best defender in the world. The Serbian was a rock at the back. His leadership quality helped Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson enjoy their most successful period, both domestically as well as in Europe.
In the 2008-09 season, United were looking to win the EPL for the third season running and, in the process, equal Liverpool's record of 18 English top-flight titles. What transpired during the season was impressive strength and solidity from Vidic and his fellow defenders.
We witnessed a defensive masterclass from Vidic and his teammates as they conceded just 24 times in the EPL, keeping a staggering 23 clean sheets in the process. With the United attack fluttering at times (they scored nine goals fewer than Liverpool), it was the Old Trafford club's defensive solidity that helped them grind out a lot of games in that EPL season.
Vidic and his contributions were recognised by the media and fans alike as they voted him the EPL Player of the Year. Still, the PFA Players' Player of the Year went to fellow teammate Ryan Giggs. The Welshman admittedly had a good season, yet it felt as if the award was more for his longevity and contributions to English football than for his performances that season.
Giggs only completed ninety minutes in just 12 EPL games that season, while Vidic outscored him in the league (four goals to Giggs' two).
#2 Didier Drogba (2009-10)
PFA Players' Player of the Year Winner that year: Wayne Rooney.
The 2009-10 season saw two great teams, Chelsea and Manchester United and two brilliant strikers, Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney go head to head in the EPL.
Chelsea under the stewardship of Italian boss Carlo Ancelotti pipped Sir Alex's men to the league title by a solitary point.
On the golden boot front as well it was a tight race, with both Drogba and Rooney level on 26 goals going into the final match week. Drogba's hat-trick against Wigan on the final day meant that, along with the EPL title, he pipped Rooney to the Golden Boot as well.
Therefore, it came somewhat as a surprise when the PFA Players' Player of the Year award went to Rooney instead of Drogba. While there's no denying that the English striker enjoyed one of his finest seasons ever, it was a tad questionable to overlook the Chelsea forward and his contributions that season.
Afterall, Drogba had contributed to 39 goals all season (29 goals and ten assists) as Carlo Ancelotti's men became the first side to smash in more than 100 goals in an EPL season.
#1 Dwight Yorke (1998-99)
PFA Players' Player of the Year Winner that season: David Ginola.
The 1998-99 season was a special one for Manchester United. They completed a historic treble of UEFA Champions League, EPL and the FA Cup.
Although the treble was a collective team effort, a lot of players stood out that season. David Beckham and Ryan Giggs raided teams down the wings while Roy Keane showcased a fighting spirit and a never say die attitude from midfield. And who can forget the strike quartet of Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Andy Cole who plundered in the goals against all opposition?
Despite the fabulous success achieved by the Red Devils, the year-end award results baffled many. Not that the Manchester United players would have complained after what they achieved.
David Ginola, a French playmaker for Tottenham Hotspur, won both the FWA and FPA Players' Player of the Year awards at the end of that season. To be fair to Ginola, he had a decent EPL campaign, chipping in with three goals and ten assists for a Tottenham side that finished a lowly 11th that season.
Meanwhile, Yorke in his first season at Manchester United helped himself to a Golden Boot with 18 EPL goals, also chipping in with a staggering 11 assists in the league as United won a historic treble.
Any of the Red Devils stars could have won the award that season, with David Beckham and Roy Keane finishing second and sixth respectively in the 1999 Ballon d'Or standings.