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Top 10 Germans to have played in the English Premier League

16 Apr 2001:  Markus Babbel of Liverpool celebrates his goal during the FA Carling Premiership match against Everton played at Goodison Park, in Liverpool, England. Liverpool won the match 3-2. \ Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill /Allsport
Babbel’s runs down the right flanks remain a major Kop memory
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Germans have undisputedly have been at the helm of the affairs of world football. Be it their dominant national teams or clubs, or the plethora of superstars they have given to the world of football, Germany can be classified as one of the elite footballing nations on the globe.

English football, on the other hand, continues to be the most glamorous one in the world. The Premier League, which began in 1992 has helped bring millions of fans into the fold and continues to be one of the leading leagues. So, when some of the best in the business (the Germans) decide to ply their trade in the most commercially successful league, the world is sure to grab millions of eyeball.

A total of 50 Germans have played in the Premier League, with several becoming key members for their sides.

We bring to you the top 10 Germans to have played in the Premier League.


#10 Markus Babbel (Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers)

Before Liverpool acquired the services of Nathaniel Clyne, another player made a name for himself with his marauding runs from right-back - Markus Babbel. The German had already achieved a lot as a player during his time at Hamburger SV and Bayern Munich in terms of trophies before he made the move to English shores to sign for Liverpool in June, 2000.

The German played a critical role in his side’s treble winning 2000-01 campaign as his darting runs down the right-flank became a constant talk of opposition team meetings. However, the stint that began so well did not achieve its true potential as the right-back was diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome, a condition that sadly halted his Liverpool career.

While he did recover from the troubling condition, he was never quite the same player, understandably so, and moved to Blackburn Rovers on loan in 2003 before moving back to Germany with VFB Stuttgart.

On the international level, the German was capped 51 times for the national team and was also an integral part of the 1996 UEFA Championship winning side.

#9 Thomas Hitzlsperger (Aston Villa, West Ham United, Everton)

BOLTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 13:  Thomas Hitzlsperger of Aston Villa is congratulated by his manager David O'Leary after the FA Barclays Premiership match between Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa at the Reebok Stadium on November 13, 2004 in Bolton, England.  (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images)
Hitzlsperger remains one of the most under-appreciated players in the history of the Premier League

Thomas Hitzlsperger learned the tricks of the trade at the famed Bayern Munich academy before deciding in 2000 that he needed to move away from the German heavyweights to help his development as a player and what followed was an incredible 14 years as a professional.

The German was an inspirational figure in the Aston Villa midfield and made several key contributions to the side that was not always the steadiest of the ships to sail on. Hitzlsperger made 110 appearances for the Birmingham-based club and while he might have scored just 13 goals in the 5 years he was at the club, there is no denying his role in the club punching above their weight during his tenure at the club.

The German also subsequently appeared for West Ham United and Everton but it has to be his performances with Villa that have made him a beloved figure at the club.

With the German national team, the midfielder was capped 52 times. He was part of the side’s fairly successful campaigns in the FIFA Confederations Cup, the 2006 FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Championships in 2008 despite being a part of one of the mid-table clubs in England.

#8 Christian Ziege (Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur)

1 Oct 2000:  Christian Ziege of Liverpool in action during the FA Carling Premiership match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in London.  Chelsea won the match 3-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford /Allsport
Ziege’s stint at Liverpool saw him collect a winner’s medal for FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup.

Liverpool are amongst the clubs that have employed some of the finest German footballers in the English Premier League and former Bayern Munich left-back, Christian Ziege, is one of them.

Ziege had enjoyed successful spells at Bayern Munich and AC Milan before he made the move to the then Premier League mid-table club Middlesbrough in 1999. His performances at the Riverside stadium earned him the reputation of an enterprising defender who loved to get forward when presented with an opportunity, yet was a sturdy presence in defence.

He soon earned himself a move to Liverpool in the summer of 2000, where, despite being used in a bit part capacity, he was solid option to have for the team’s management. His stint at Liverpool saw him collect a winner’s medal for FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup.

However, the development of Jamie Carragher proved to push the player down the pecking order and he was yet again on the move in 2001, this time to Tottenham Hotspur.

It is, perhaps, his performance with the German national team that makes him one of the finest Germans to have played in the Premier League. He was capped 72 times with the German national team and was an integral part of the 1996 Euro winning squad as well as the runners-up side in the FIFA 2002 World Cup, where he was deployed as the left-back of the side.

#7 Jurgen Klinsmann (Tottenham Hotspur)

Klinsmann had a great time at the White Hart Lane
Klinsmann had some of his finest moments at the White Hart Lane

Klinsmann had an interesting footballing career. He started his career at Stuttgart Kickers before making the move to VFB Stuttgart, a move that brought him to the forefront of German football and helped establish himself as a regular with the German national team.

The German arrived in England in 1994 when he signed for Tottenham Hotspur. While his first stint lasted just a year before he moved to Bayern Munich, he impressed many with his goal-scoring prowess as he racked up an incredible 30 goals which earned him the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.

The love affair that started in 1994 reignited in 1998 when Klinsmann once again arrived at the White Hart Lane, albeit on loan from Sampdoria. While he was not getting any younger, he helped the side’s cause by playing a stellar role in avoiding relegation and that has made him of the beloved figures in North London.

#6 Dietmar Hamann (Newcastle United, Liverpool, Manchester City)

Dietmar Hamann
Hamann was an important player for Liverpool in the 2000s

Dietmar Hamann is a much-loved figure at Liverpool, courtesy of his game-changing performance for the club in the UEFA Champions League final in 2005 against a dominant AC Milan side. However, it was not Liverpool but Newcastle United who first brought the German to England when Kenny Dalglish decided to spend £5.5 million to sign the midfielder.

Hamann had impressed after rising through the ranks at Bayern Munich and had established himself as the side’s leading defensive midfielder. His performances were duly rewarded with a call-up to the German national team and the player soon established himself as a key figure in their midfield.

He enjoyed his greatest stint as a player while plying his trade at Anfield. He was a beloved and an ever-present figure in the Liverpool midfield during his seven years at the club, a stint many Liverpool fans collect with great joy to this date.

During his time at the Merseyside he won everything there was on offer in England except the Premier League title. While he wasn’t able to replicate his performances at his subsequent club, Manchester City, he still remains one of the top Germans to have set foot on English soil.

#5 Jens Lehmann (Arsenal)

BLACKPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 10:  Jens Lehman of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackpool and Arsenal at Bloomfield Road on April 10, 2011 in Blackpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Lehmann was the bedrock for Arsenal’s success in 2003-04

Jens Lehmann joined Arsenal in 2003 from Borussia Dortmund and instantly installed himself as the side’s first-choice goalkeeper for the 2003-04 season. What followed was an incredible first season in England for the German goalkeeper as he featured in each of his side’s games throughout the season.

The Arsenal side remained unbeaten through the season as they cruised to the Premier League title. While the likes of Thierry Henry garnered all the spotlight, there was no denying the heroics of individuals such as Lehmann who laid the foundation for the club’s ascent to the top of English football.

While he did not enjoy great success in subsequent seasons, he was the side’s leading goalkeeper for the most part of the five seasons he spent at the club. The very fact that he was able to remain in contention for the goalkeeper’s position with the German national team when the great Oliver Kahn was in his prime speaks volumes of how highly regarded he was amongst the German football hierarchy.

Lehmann returned to Arsenal in 2010-11 and while he featured in just 1 game, he has left an everlasting mark in the history of the League with his performances for the Gunners.

#4 Robert Huth (Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Stoke City, Leicester City)

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 31:  Robert Huth of Leicester City looks on during the Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on December 31, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Huth was instrumental in Leicester City’s title-winning season

Having joined Claudio Ranieri’s Chelsea as a teenager in 2002, Robert Huth has now spent almost 15 years in England and holds the German record for the highest Premier League appearances with 311 appearances over the years.

While the German won consecutive Premier League winners medal with Chelsea in 2004-05 and 2005-06, he was largely used in a bit part capacity. However, his latest Premier League medal must mean the world for the defender as Huth played a pivotal role in Leicester City’s shocking, yet incredibly wonderful Premier League title win in 2015-16.

Huth featured in 35 of his side’s 38 games and kept his side in the hunt with his fair share of important tackles, interceptions blocks and clearances (a few shirt tugs cannot be ignored).

The presence of several other quality defenders in the German set up meant that Huth did not feature as many times as he would have wanted to for the German national team and has won 19 caps with them, the last of which came in 2009.

#3 Per Mertesacker (Arsenal)

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23:  A dejected Per Mertesacker of Arsenal applauds the home fans following their team's 2-0 defeat during the UEFA Champions League round of 16, first leg match between Arsenal FC and FC Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium on February 23, 2016 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Big Per Mertesacker proved invaluable to Arsenal as he helped them win consecutive FA Cup titles

While Per Mertesacker might be finding playing time hard to come by in the current season, he has already become a legend of the game owing to his performances for Hannover 96, Werder Bremen, Arsenal and the German National team.

Mertesacker joined Arsenal in the summer of 2011 and immediately provided his side defensive stability as he forged a fine partnership alongside Laurent Koscielny. The duo complemented each other’s abilities like few central defensive partnerships have done in the history of English football. The German who has been hailed as a leader by Arsene Wenger marshalled his defensive troops well and was vital to his side winning the FA Cup in 2013-14 and 2014-15 apart from the FA Community Shield.

On the international stage, Mertesacker has been capped an incredible 104 times with the German national team which is an indication of how highly regarded the defender. He was also part of the squad that lifted the coveted FIFA World Cup trophy in 2014.

While he might be approaching the end of his career, there is no denying that it has been an incredible one for the defender and that he has been one of the finest German imports in English football.

#2 Michael Ballack (Chelsea)

Ballack won the Premier League and the Champions League with Chelsea

Michael Ballack was one of the most revered names in the game by the time he arrived at the Stamford Bridge in 2006. A commander in midfield, he enjoyed several successful years with FC Kaiserslautern, Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich as well as the German national team before he arrived at West London in one of the high-profile transfers experienced by English football.

While injuries did not help him in his stint at Chelsea, Ballack was still an influential figure on the pitch and won everything there was on offer in England with Chelsea.

The German international spent four years at Chelsea, making 166 appearances across all competitions and in the process bagged 25 goals and several assists. A leader on and off the pitch, Ballack is one of the greatest German footballers of all times and it goes without saying that he is one of the finest Germans to have played in the Premier League.

#1 Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04:  Mesut Oezil of Arsenal passes the ball under pressure from Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on February 4, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
The German has been working his magic on English crowds since arriving from Madrid

While fans of several rival clubs might suggest that Mesut Ozil was a rather unimpressive big-money signing, often citing his tendency to go missing at crucial times, Ozil, without doubt, is one of the best German players in the world at the moment.

The German, who began his professional career at Schalke’04 before moving to Werder Bremen and subsequently Real Madrid, has established himself as one of the elite playmakers with his ability to split even the tightest of defences with his vision, as well as his ability on and off the ball. He has been a constant menace to the opposition in the Premier League ever since making the move from Real Madrid and creates bucket loads of chances every time he is on the pitch.

At the international stage, the Gunners’ star man has been at the heart of the German national team’s attack ever since breaking into the senior squad in 2009. He was a part of the German national team that finished 3rd in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and impressed with his playmaking abilities throughout the tournament.

However, it has to be the 2014 World Cup that Ozil, like several of his colleagues, must relish the most. The playmaker started each of his side’s seven games in the victorious campaign and his efforts did not go unnoticed as several pundits and critics singled him out as the driving force of the team.

The German’s long-term future at the Emirates hangs in the balance and it would be an understatement if we claim that several Gunners fan would hope to see him put pen to paper and stay at the club for a long time.

Edited by Staff Editor

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