Ranking the 5 fiercest players in Premier League history

Liverpool v Manchester United - Premier League
Liverpool v Manchester United - Premier League
Nikhil Krishna

The Premier League has inherited the English game's hard-earned reputation for being the most physical and imposing league in all of Europe.

The roughness and intensity of the Premier League has seen the emergence of iconic characters who have had larger-than-life roles to play on the pitch. Winning the fear and respect of their opponents and the hearts of their supporters, here's a ranking five of the Premier League's fiercest characters.

#5 Nemanja Vidic

A modern day hardman, Nemanja Vidic was an imperious defender for Manchester United over 8 years. He inherited the captain's armband for his bravery, leadership and pride every time he stepped out in United colors, winning pretty much everything he could with the club.

Towering in the air and ruthless in the tackle, Nemanja Vidic was the epitome of a fierce commander on the pitch. More importantly, he was a redefined and "civil" hardman for his almost superhuman ability to absorb pain and physical attack. He played against the likes of Didier Drogba, Kevin Davies and Yakubu that dominated the Premier League in the late 2000s.

He is still spoken with respect as one of the greatest center backs in Premier League history. The iconic image of him playing on while bleeding, a testament to his commitment and passion for the game of football.

#4 Neil "Razor" Ruddock

Neil Ruddock Scores
Neil Ruddock Scores

A man with a nickname like 'Razor' was always made for a list like this. He is best known for a five-year spell at Liverpool in a career that has seen him play for the likes of Southampton, Liverpool and West Ham.

A rugged and rough center-back straight out of the "old school" who prided himself on bringing pain to his opponents. Ruddock once famously quipped, "Am I allowed to say I'm pleased?" after breaking Andy Cole's leg. Challenging the likes of Eric Cantona and Patrick Viera and breaking Peter Beardsley's jaw isn't just for anyone.

#3 Roy Keane

Roy Keane v Villarreal - Pre Season Friendly
Roy Keane v Villarreal - Pre Season Friendly

The former Manchester United captain and now recognized pundit was always going to make this list. A two-decade-long playing career as a tough, no-nonsense defensive midfielder saw him recognized as the bona-fide hardman of the game.

His tenacity, anger and "ruthless aggression" was a double-edged sword, earning him the dubious distinction of having racked up Red cards throughout his career. Former referee Mark Clattenburg was quoted saying:

I still smile at the first time I came across Roy Keane. He screamed at us for a corner and I’m sure it was a goal kick, but because he screamed at us so loudly, I gave a corner. I was that petrified of him.”

His ferocious bust-ups with Patrick Vieira remains the definitive moments of the 2000s Arsenal-Manchester United rivalry.

His brazen and maniacal nature took a dark turn when he went out of his way to physically harm Alf Inge Haaland, father of one Erling Haaland. He broke his leg with a shocking challenge which was an apparently pre-planned act of revenge due to an injury sustained in a prior game.

#2 Duncan Ferguson

Duncan Ferguson is now the assistant manager at Everton
Duncan Ferguson is now the assistant manager at Everton

The man Evertonians lovingly called "Big Dunc" was a giant of a character. The 6'4 Scotsman made close to 260 appearances over two spells for the blue side of Merseyside scoring 68 times, almost exclusively with his head.

Aside from his combative aerial ability, Duncan Ferguson was known for his volatility and injury record due to his spartan-like ability to battle during games. Once at Rangers, a headbutt to Raith Rovers’ John McStay during a match made him end up with a three-month sentence on an assault charge!

An even more ludicrous story is when in 2001, he caught a pair of burglars in his apartment to beat one of them into a hospital bed!

Now an assistant manager for Everton, having taken interim charge of the first team on different occasions, Ferguson is still adored in Merseyside. He is a vital part of the football club in the Premier League.

#1 Vinnie Jones

Vinnie Jones playing for Wimbledon
Vinnie Jones playing for Wimbledon

The definitive hardman, whose gritted teeth and skinhead look earned him not just the fear and respect of opponents, but also a big-money career playing gangsters and debt collectors.

Having played for the likes of Leeds United, Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers, Jones is best remembered for his six-year spell as part of Wimbledon AFC's "Crazy Gang." A notorious squad that was a precursour to Stoke City and Burnley in the modern day Premier League.

The holding midfielder was a terrifying figure in games, having bullied, battered and bruised opponents all across the Premier league. He holds the record for the fastest ever yellow card, a mere three seconds into an FA Cup game for Chelsea. But perhaps his single most famous exploit is *that* picture with Paul Gascoigne that redefined the term "Man Marking".

Edited by Aditya Singh


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