Top 50 Irish players of the Premier League era - 40-31
As the Premier League prepares to enter its 26th season this weekend, we’ve decided to celebrate its first 25 years this week by honouring the top 50 Irish players to ever play in the top flight of English football.
The list accounts for a player’s talent, the individual and team success he had in the league, and the impact they had at their respective clubs, hence, why a player like Kevin Moran, who played just two seasons in the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers, is not rated as highly as Kevin Kilbane who played 11 seasons in the Premier League.
The list is not necessarily a reflection of the player’s overall career, but rather the parts of their career that were spent in the the Premier League.
40. Wes Hoolahan -
The former Shelbourne star has spent just four seasons of a 16 year career in the Premier League, most of which has been with his current club Norwich City.
Hoolahan has scored 12 goals in 112 Premier League appearances to date and led the Norwich team out as captain for their first Premier League game of the 2011/2012 season, a 2–1 away victory against Bolton Wanderers.
39. Stephen Hunt - A livewire winger, Hunt broke into the Premier League alongside Ireland international teammates Kevin Doyle and Shane Long as the Royals fired their way to an eighth placed finish in their first season.
Hunt chipped in with nine league goals in his first two seasons in the Premier League before Reading were relegated at the end of the 2007/2008 season, however, Hunt would return to the top flight with Hull and Wolves where he scored a further 12 goals in 71 league games with both clubs.
38. Andy Reid - Reid broke into the Premier League with Tottenham after a couple of stellar seasons with Nottingham Forest towards the start of the century.
His time with Spurs however was short-lived, with the Dubliner making just 26 league appearances across two seasons with the North Londoners before moving onto Charlton Athletic.
Reid remained with Charlton for a further two seasons before securing a move to Sunderland where he played four straight years in the league with the Black Cats, before falling out of first team contention under Steve Bruce.
37. James McClean -
The Derry native’s second season with the Black Cats was not as fortunate, scoring just twice in 36 games as the club narrowly avoided relegation.
However, despite Sunderland’s survival, McClean still opted to move down to the Championship anyway, signing with Wigan. After two seasons with the Latics, McClean secured a move to West Brom at the start of the 2015/2016 season where he’s played 68 out of a possible 76 Premier League games over the last two seasons.
36. John Sheridan - A goalscoring midfielder with Leeds United in the 1980s, Sheridan entered the Premier League era with Sheffield Wednesday where he arguably played some of the best football of his career under manager Trevor Francis.
The Oldham boss helped the Owls to a seventh place finish in the inaugural 1992/1993 Premier League season as well as the League and FA Cup finals in 1993.
35. Harry Arter - After spending the majority of his professional career in the Championship and League One, Arter has been a revelation for Bournemouth since the club were promoted to the Premier League in 2015.
The Ireland international has been one of the most consistent midfielders in the Premier League over the past two seasons and finished in the top 15 in passes completed for last season, despite only playing 26 games.
34. Damien Delaney - Despite spending over a decade in England’s lower leagues, Delaney has been a rock with Crystal Palace over the last four seasons starting 127 out of a possible 152 league games.
The Corkonian’s issues with the national team have been well publicised, but at Premier League level, he has been one of the most consistent Irish performers over the course of this decade.
33. Lee Carsley - Carsley made 282 Premier League appearances for a variety of clubs including Derby County, Blackburn Rovers, Coventry City, Birmingham City and Everton.
He spent the majority of his career with the Toffees and was a mainstay in midfield under David Moyes, helping the club to a fourth placed finish over Merseyside rivals Liverpool, a season in which Carsley chipped in with four league goals in 36 games.
32. Glenn Whelan - Along with Delap, Whelan is another Stoke City stalwart having made 277 league appearances for the Potters before leaving the club for Aston Villa earlier this summer. The Dubliner was a consistent starter for Stoke having made over 30 league appearances in six out of the nine seasons he spent at the Britannia.
31 Stephen Ireland - His international career ended in embarrassment following the alleged deaths of his paternal and then maternal grandmothers, both of which were found to be untrue, but Stephen Ireland has quietly spent the last 13 seasons in the Premier League. The versatile midfielder has scored 19 goals in 242 career starts for Manchester City, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Stoke City, however, that run could be about to come to an end with his contract with the Potters set to expire at the end of the year.