Having seen West Ham play a weakened team against Stoke City in the League Cup, I couldn’t help but notice that Scott Parker was still on the team sheet. He is without doubt a class act in that West Ham team, and often relied upon to create, score and carry the whole team. I am by no means touting West Ham as a favourite to go down this season, but it got me thinking: if West Ham went down this season with Scott Parker desperately trying to hold that team together, would he be the best player to get relegated in the Premiership era? Of course, he has already been relegated as a youngster at Charlton in 1998. Here is a selection of the best players to have been relegated from the Premiership between 1992 and 2000.
Immediately, the response to this question would be looking at the big clubs that have been relegated in recent years. I’m thinking Leeds United, West Ham United, or Newcastle United. However, there are some really big names that have been relegated over the years; sometimes as a youngster, sometimes at the end of their career, sometimes on loan, and sometimes just involved with the wrong club at the wrong time.
In the 1993/1994 season, Sheffield United went down with 42 points, missing survival by just a solitary point. On the books at the time was cult hero and Sky Sports News presenter Chris Kamara. Chris only made 16 appearances for the Blades in the one season he was there, and retired shortly after.
The 1994/1995 season saw Blackburn lift the Premier League title, but Leicester City as one of four teams to fail to survive. They amassed on 29 points all season, however they had a real prospect on their hands. A very young, powerful centre-forward that went by the name of Emile Heskey. Heskey recently called time on his international career following the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He won a 62 England caps, scoring a grand total of 7 goals. While not exactly known for his goalscoring record, he’s still a member of the all exclusive 100-club. Watch Heskey ask Muzzy Izzet ‘go on son, do you want yourself a goal early?‘ as well as score two lovely headers against Derby in 1998.
Danny Mills was relegated with Norwich City in 1995, again with Charlton Athletic in 1998 and for a third time with Leeds United in 2004. He was chosen Sven-Göran Eriksson’s England Squad for the World Cup in 2002, as first choice right-back ahead of the injured Gary Neville. While Danny Mills is one of the more average players to represent England at a World Cup tournament, he managed to build a reputation of reliability and hard work.
Niall Quinn managed to steep feat of getting relegated in consecutive seasons, with Manchester City in 1996 and then with Sunderland in 1997. He has become synonymous with Sunderland, scoring 61 goals as a striker and captain, managing them for a short spell in 2006 and now as chairman of the North-West outfit.
Despite only playing a solitary season for Middlesbrough, Fabrizio Ravanelli managed to create a cult Premiership following. He won five Serie A titles with Juventus and the Champions League in 1996, but found himself relegated with Middlesbrough in 1997. His famous celebration, ‘The Ravanelli’, consisted of pulling his shirt over his head and running around the pitch like a mad-man.
Juninho Paulista, not to be confused with Lyon’s Juninho Pernambucano, had three separate spells with Middlebrough, including a loan spell whilst at Atletico Madrid. Quite simply one of the best players to play for Middlesbrough, the creative Brazilian was a wonderful addition to the Premiership. He was relegated with Middlesbrough in 1997 after their 3 point deduction for postponing a fixture with Blackburn.
Often touted as one of those players that never realised their full potential, Pierre van Hooijdonk still amassed an impressive 36 goals in 71 games for Nottingham Forest.He scored goals in Netherlands, Scotland, England, Portugal and Turkey, but finished bottom and was relegated with Forest in 1997 and relegated again in 1999.
Stuart Pearce‘s 12 year spell at Nottingham Forest came to an end after Forest finished bottom of the Premiership in 1997. ‘Psycho’ was appointed player/care-taker manager after Frank Clark’s inability to live up to the impossible task of filling Brian Clough’s shoes. He was a wonderful defender, and stalwart of the English defence. He will always be famous for THAT penalty miss, but one of the greatest moments of his career must surely have been the penalty he took in Euro ’96.
Another product of the Tyneside goldmine that is Wallsend Boys Club, Peter Beardsley left his beloved Newcastle United when he moved to Bolton Wanderers, and was subsequently relegated in 1998. Beardsley won 59 caps for England and has always been an underrated player in Bobby Robson’s England side.
Sampdoria. Juventus. Lazio. Crystal Palace. Spot the difference. Attilio Lombardo played for some of the biggest clubs in Italy, and Crystal Palace. Nevertheless, he was a wonderful player who spent two seasons entertaining South London between 1997 and 1999. He was relegated with Palace in 1998.
Undoubtedly a wonderful player, perhaps we’d seen the best of John Barnes by the time he joined Charlton Athletic in 1999. Barnes was iconically one of the first black man to play for England, winning a total of 79 caps scoring 11 goals. His spell at Charlton is often forgotten, given that he only made 12 appearances.
A very young Damien Duff was relegated alongside other Premiership personalities as Jason McAteer, Darren Peacock, Keith Gillespie, Chris Sutton and England international, Kevin Davies. Blackburn were relegated in 1999, but it wasn’t until they returned to the Premiership when the Irishman began getting attention as one of the hottest young talents in England.
Criminally underrated in my rose-tinted eyes, Robbie Earle was a wonderful midfielder for Wimbledon FC throughout the 1990s. His good reputation has been somewhat undone by a combination of the World Cup ticketing fiasco, and general poor punditary. Earle was relegated with Wimbledon in 2000 and promptly retired at the age of 35.
Long gone are the days of Sheffield Wednesday as a Premiership outfit, that once upon a time boasted double UEFA Cup winner, Wim Jonk. He spent three seasons at Hillsborough, but was relegated with ‘the Owls’ in 2000. Part of the influx of European players arriving in the premiership at the end of their career, the former Ajax, Internazionale and PSV player arrived in Yorkshire for £2.5m. However, he never really found the form he had shown in the 49 appearances he had with the Netherlands.