Cult heroes are not made by their footballing ability, sometimes its the bond they share with the fans and sometimes it’s the most dedicated.
Yes, we all love watching players who are mind-blowingly good, but trading all of that in for somebody who can we lovingly look back on 20 years later – while aboard the nostalgia train – is how our brains really want to work.
So to satisfy our need for throwbacks, here’s every current Premier League’s team often forgotten cult hero.
Arsenal – John Jensen
John Jensen celebrates Arsenal’s 2-1 aggregate victory over PSG in the semi-finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup
— Football Past (@thecentretunnel) April 17, 2020
Clinging on to the extinct 80s footballer mien with his tight perm and moustache, Jensen arrived after scoring for Denmark in the Euro 1992 final.
98 games passed before Jensen slotted home is solitary goal for the Gunners, but every so often you will see ‘I saw John Jensen score’ t-shirts dotted around the Emirates.
Says it all.
Aston Villa – Shaun Teale
Ah, the most centre-half looking centre-half that ever lived.
If it moved, he kicked it – ball or opponent. Football fans have always got time for that, haven’t they?
Bournemouth – John Bailey
The only player to score at Wembley for Bournemouth, so quite naturally held in high esteem by down on the south coast.
The gritty, tough tackling midfielder was a typical signing for a mid-90s Bournemouth side.
Brighton & Hove Albion – John Crumplin
Ironic chants of ‘Johnny Crumplin, football genius’ rang around the terraces when he started his Brighton career as a right winger.
A change to right back saw him become a football genius in his own right, epitomised by his perfected defensive diving header and a never-say-die attitude.
Burnley – Glen Little
This guy was a winger, he was lanky, had knobbly knees and his elbows stuck out at all angles when he ran.
He defied every rule of athleticism required for a professional footballer.
Tore André Flo
One of football’s greatest super-subs and probably Chelsea’s best ever bargain, costing just £300,000.
One goal every three games ensured the lanky Norwegian was a fan favourite among Blues supporters, and he still attends games to this day.
Crystal Palace – Fan Zhiyi
A little unorthodox, but commitment personified.
Considered a trailblazer in his homeland after being one of the first Chinese players to play in England.
Everton – Kevin Campbell
Single-handedly rescued Everton from relegation when they were on the brink of a late 1990s disaster.
Campbell said he fell in love with Everton and God, did the Goodison faithful love him back for what he achieved.
Leicester City –
This fella only played 47 senior games in his 16 year career but he was the penalty-saving king at Leicester.
Oh, and he had a great name and wore joggers. What a legend.
Liverpool – Jan Molby
Molby was a Danish midfield maestro who always played three steps – vintage footage would suggest – ahead of everyone else.
Adopted a Scouse accent and beat Eric Bristow at dart which is bloody sensational, too.
Manchester CIty –
Oh to be at Maine Road watching on as ‘Kinky’ dazzled defenders in his beautiful baggy blue Brother shirt.
A true footballing anomaly in an era when brute force and brawn took a stranglehold.
Manchester United – Denis Irwin
Maybe the last of the proper full-back generation.
Positioning, discipline and consistency were his best friends. Sir Alex Ferguson’s one certainty for an all-time United XI.
Newcastle United – Clarence Acuna
When signing for Newcastle from Universidad de Chile, Acuna climbed down a fire escape in an Argentinian hotel to avoid his agent who’d been cut out the deal.
So that sums him up, I guess.
Norwich City –
How good does that long sleeve kit look on him first things first?
Anyway, scored Norwich’s first ever European goal and became the first player to score four goals in the Premier League.
Hero? We think so.
Sheffield United – Peter Ndlovu
Remember the Tom Hark goal music craze? That was a great time.
This song initially just used to play after he’d scored before it caught on everywhere. So thank you, Peter.
Southampton – Marian Pahars
Mimicking him in more ways than one, the Latvian Micheal Owen nutmegged Jaap Stam and scored a flying diving header against Everton to secure safety.
Baltic legend doesn’t do him justice.
Tottenham Hotspur – Nayim
Spent five years at Spurs but cemented his place as a cult hero when he scored against Arsenal in the 1995 UEFA Cup Winners Cup final…from the half-way line.
Admittedly, that wasn’t for Spurs, but who cares about that minor detail?
Watford – Tommy Mooney
Full-blooded and aggressive – see exhibit A (above) for conclusive evidence of that.
Could grab a game by the scruff of the neck when the chips were down and even had the balls to square up to Marcel Desailly. Therefore, he must be hard.
West Ham United – Martin Allen
Name me something more West Ham than Martin ‘Mad-Dog’ Allen in the Dagenham Motors strip.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – John de Wolf
Yes, shaggy-haired John de Wolf playing actual football for Wolves was a thing.
Not only that, he sported that wonderful Goodyear kit and featured in one of the great introductory photoshoots alongside style guru Don Goodman.