The Premier League is usually touted as one of the best, most closely fought and intense leagues on the planet, and for good reason. On their day, the so-called ‘bottom-feeders’ can beat the league leaders and no game is unwinnable; a scenario that has seen four different champions in the past four years, with Leicester’s title win last year arguably one of the greatest sporting achievements in history.
A league that affords a player the opportunity to establish himself in the top-bracket, over 100 different nationalities have been represented since its inception over 2 decades ago – with Armenian, Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s first goal for United in December meaning that 92 players from different foreign FIFA affiliated nations have scored in the Premier League.
It is, therefore, no surprise to hear that Germany – one of football’s powerhouses – has been heavily represented through some extraordinary players over the years. While there have been a few flops – Lewis Holtby at Tottenham and Marko Marin at Chelsea being prime examples – a large portion have gone on to have successful careers at Premier League clubs.
Here’s who we believe are the top five Germans to have ever graced the English top-flight.
#5 Jens Lehmann
It is a testament to Jens Lehamann’s incredible consistency and shot-stopping ability at Arsenal that his departure saw a raging debate pop-up regarding the goalkeeping situation at the North-London club.
Following David Seaman’s 13 seasons at Arsenal was always going to be difficult, and most were surprised when hot-headed German, Lehmann, was picked as the Englishman’s successor. He arrived in the Premier League after fairly successful stints with Schalke, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund and went on to establish himself as one of the world’s best goalkeepers during his stint in England.
In his first season at the club, he played all 38 league games as the Gunners went the entire league season undefeated, becoming the first club and up to this day, the only club, to accomplish this feat in the modern era.
While he had his ups and downs with the club – briefly losing his place to Manuel Almunia during the 2004/05 season – his four-year stay was during a period of transition, and he always managed to excellently marshal the backline.
The highlight of his time in London was probably the 2005/06 season, when an unfancied Arsenal side fought their way to the Champions League final, where they ultimately succumbed to Barcelona.
Commanding an inexperienced, makeshift defence, he broke Edwin van der Sar’s record for most consecutive clean sheets in the tournament with 10. While he was sent off in the final, the fact that he was still picked as UEFA’s Goalkeeper of the Year showed what an amazing season he’d had for the club.
He made a total of 148 appearances for the Gunners and left for Stuttgart after the 2007/08 season.