5 German Legends who have graced the Premier League

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)
Lehman played all 38 games in Arsenal’s Invincibles season
Akshay Pai T

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.

Also read: 5 greatest Italians to have played 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.


#4 Jurgen Klinsmann

German footballer Jrgen Klinsmann in action for Tottenham Hotspur against Leicester City in a Premier League match at Filbert Street, Leicester, 17th September 1994. Leicester won the match 3-1. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Klinsmann scored 30 goals in his first season with Spurs

Klinsmann arrived in the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur at the tail-end of his career, already having established himself as a top striker with the likes of Stuttgart, Inter Milan and Monaco. Klinsmann’s excellent performances for both club and country saw him win numerous personal accolades, as well as the 1990 FIFA World Cup and the 1996 European Championship.

Klinsmann was initially criticized by both the media and the fans, partly because he played for the 1990 West Germany team that knocked England out of the World Cup, and partly because of his reputation as a diver.

However, his goalscoring exploits with his strike-partner, Teddy Sheringham, saw him immediately win his detractors over and become a legend at the club. He scored an impressive 30 goals in his debut season, as Spurs finished 7th and he took home the 1995 Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award.

Already a firm fan-favorite, he then returned on-loan from Sampdoria mid-way through the 1997/98 season and scored a further nine goals – including four against Wimbledon in the penultimate game of the season – to help stave off the imminent threat of relegation.

#3 Dietmar Hamann

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 09:  (L-R) Ivan Campo of Bolton Wanderers holds off Dietmar Hamann of Liverpool during the Barclays Premiership match between Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers at Anfield on April 9, 2006 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Hamann had a very successful 7-year stint in Merseyside

Hamann began his career with Bayern Munich in Germany and after five fruitful seasons in Bavaria, he moved to England, joining Newcastle United.

Reputed for being a tough, no-nonsense defensive midfielder, Hamann made 31 appearances and scored five goals for the Magpies before moving to Liverpool the next season. In his 7-year stint at the Anfield club, he anchored Liverpool’s midfield and significantly contributed to impressive defensive records at the club under both Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez.

He won the treble in his second season with the club and followed that up with victories in the FA Cup and the League Cup. But his greatest achievement will be the comeback victory against AC Milan in the Champions League final in 2005 as he helped the Reds win their first European trophy in over 20 years.

He made over 200 appearances for the Merseyside club and became a fan-favorite before eventually moving to Manchester City in 2006 where he made a further 71 appearances.

#2 Mesut Ozil

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22:  Mesut Ozil of Arsenal in action during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Burnley at Emirates Stadium on January 22, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Ozil’s arrival saw the Gunners end their long wait for a trophy

Ozil debuted in the Bundesliga with Schalke, but eventually made his name with Werder Bremen where his excellent performances saw him win a DFB-Pokal and earn a call-up to the German national team. After the World Cup in 2010, in which he established himself as one of the world’s top talents, he moved to Real Madrid and was repeatedly on top of the assists charts for Los Blancos.

His sale to Arsenal came as a shock to almost everyone at the Spanish club, but their loss would be the Gunners’ gain. He became the North-London side’s record signing and the most expensive German player of all time and was expected to take the club to new heights.

He started off excellently, becoming the creative hub of the team as Arsenal ended their long wait for a trophy with a comeback victory in the FA Cup final against Hull. While he started his second season as a World Champion with Germany, the season, on the whole, was a bit more muted, but Arsenal still managed to win another FA Cup and finish third in the league.


The 2015/16 season was arguably his best in a Gunners shirt as he upped his goalscoring and also finished on top of the Premier League assists chart with 19; just one short of Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry’s tally of 20. The London side finished second in the league, and his performances saw him win the German Player of the Year award for a fifth time in six seasons.

He has started this season extremely well, already bettering his goals tally of the past years with still half a season to go, and if he stays in the league, will definitely go down as one of the best players to have ever graced the English top-flight.

#1 Michael Ballack

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 13:  Michael Ballack of Chelsea runs with the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on March 13, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Ballack experienced a very fruitful 4-year stay with Chelsea

Arguably the greatest ever German to grace the top-flight, Michael Ballack joined Chelsea in 2006 on a free transfer, after establishing himself as one of the world’s best midfielders at Kaiserslautern, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich. His stints at the German clubs saw him win a host of personal and club honours, including UEFA’s Midfielder of the Year in 2002 as well as four Bundesliga titles and three DFB-Pokals.

Also read: 5 “cursed” footballers

While he became infamous for losing finals in the clubs he’d played in, his 4-year stay at Chelsea, however, can’t be classified as anything other than a success.

Choosing the Blues over the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid, he formed a key part of the side that dominated the FA Cup, winning it three times in four years. Cast from the same mould as Steven Gerrard, Ballack had a quality about him that inspired his teammates and pushed them to attain new heights.

He would eventually win the league in his last season with the club in 2009/10 after making over a 100 appearances and scoring 17 goals and would return to Leverkusen to cap off what had been a remarkable career.

Edited by Staff Editor


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