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The Premier League team of the season is an annual award given to the standout performers in English soccer’s top division. Officially known as the PFA Team of the Year, it is voted for by professional players and is therefore seen as the highest possible accolade among Premier League stars.
The PFA Team of the Year award has existed since the 1970s, but the Premier League was only founded in 1992. In this article we have focused on the modern era, taking a look at every Premier League team of the season to see which players have been included most often.
Nine different players have been voted into the Premier League team of the season four times. One of them is Gary Pallister, the long-serving Manchester United defender who was also named in the PFA Team of the Year three times before the Premier League era.
Nemanja Vidic, David Beckham, and Cristiano Ronaldo are the other United stars who were included in the Premier League team of the season on four different occasions. Gareth Bale is Tottenham Hotspur’s only representative, while Chelsea duo Eden Hazard and John Terry were Premier League team of the season members four times too. Ashley Cole, the former Chelsea and Arsenal left-back completes the list.
For a period in the 2010s, it seemed as if David de Gea had a permanent place in the PFA Team of the Year. The Manchester United goalkeeper had a difficult start to life in English soccer, but he soon established himself as the best shot-stopper in the country despite his side’s general struggles in the post-Alex Ferguson era.
De Gea was part of the Premier League team of the season in 2012/13, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18. That means he was named in the PFA Team of the Year five times in six seasons, with Petr Cech the only other goalkeeper to be included in the side between 2013 and 2018.
Roy Keane is Manchester United’s most successful captain of the Premier League era. An inspirational leader, he was also an excellent footballer who played a huge part in the success enjoyed by Alex Ferguson’s team in the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s.
Keane’s first appearance in the Premier League team of the season came with Nottingham Forest in 1992/93. United signed him ahead of the following campaign, and Keane was also included in the PFA Team of the Year in 1996/97, 1999/00, 2000/01 and 2001/02.
With six inclusions in the Premier League team of the season, Patrick Vieira is tied in second spot with five other players. The former Arsenal captain is one of the best players in that club’s history, and is arguably more synonymous with the first half of the Arsene Wenger era than any other player.
Vieira, a brilliant box-to-box midfielder who could pass, tackle, run and shoot, first gained entry into the Premier League team of the season in 1998/99. He was also voted into the side in 1999/00, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2002/03 and 2003/04. No player in Premier League history can better his record of appearing in the PFA Team of the Year in six successive seasons.
Ryan Giggs is the most successful player in Premier League history, having won the title 13 times during his one-club career with Manchester United. He has also made the second-most appearances in the division with 632, second only to Gareth Barry’s 653.
Unsurprisingly given his combination of talent and longevity, Giggs was awarded a place in the Premier League team of the season on six occasions, starting in 1992/93 and ending in 2008/09. In between, he was voted into the side in 1997/98, 2000/01, 2001/02 and 2006/07.
Like Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand is associated with Manchester United more than any other club. But like Roy Keane, Ferdinand’s first appearance in the Premier League team of the season came when he was plying his trade elsewhere – Leeds United in the centre-back’s case, in 2001/02.
Ferdinand went on to win six Premier League titles at Old Trafford, and he was named in the PFA Team of the Year in four of those years – 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2012/13. He also made it in 2004/05, when Chelsea claimed the crown.
Regarded by many as the greatest player in Premier League history, Thierry Henry has scored more goals (228) than any other Arsenal player since the club was founded in 1886. He was not present for the Gunners’ first title triumph of the Premier League era in 1997/98, but he was the key man in latter successes in 2001/02 and 2003/04.
Henry was first voted into the Premier League team of the season in 2000/01. He kept his place in 2001/02, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2004/05 and 2005/06, which means – like his team-mate Patrick Vieira – he was included in the PFA Team of the Year in six consecutive campaigns, as well as in 75 per cent of his seasons in English soccer.
A less glamorous player than many others on this list, Gary Neville was a model of consistency throughout his Manchester United career. A dependable performer in the relatively unfashionable position of right-back, Neville was close to an automatic pick in the PFA Team of the Year during the peak of his career.
Indeed, the United stalwart was voted into the Premier League team of the season by his fellow professionals in 1995/96, 1996/97, 1997/98, 1998/99, 2004/05, and 2006/07.
The leading goalscorer in Premier League history, Alan Shearer was a master marksman who found the back of the net 260 times between 1992 and 2006. He was first voted into the PFA Team of the Year with Southampton in 1991/92, the season before the First Division became the Premier League.
Shearer featured in the Premier League team of the season on five occasions. At Blackburn Rovers he was included in the side in 1992/93, 1993/94, 1994/95 and 1995/96. He also earned a spot in 1996/97 after his move to Newcastle United, and then again in 2002/03.
With eight appearances in the Premier League team of the season, Steven Gerrard tops our list. The Liverpool midfielder never won the title with his boyhood club, but he is undoubtedly one of the best players the division has seen.
Gerrard was first named in the PFA Team of the Year in 2000/01 and was back in again in 2003/04. From there he proved very difficult to dislodge: Gerrard was also voted into the Premier League team of the season in 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, and 2008/09. His final appearance came in 2013/14 when Liverpool were narrowly beaten to the title by Manchester City.
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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