Sergio Aguero is one of Manchester City’s and the Premier League’s best ever players. Claude Makelele was one of Chelsea’s most influential midfielders in their title-winning seasons under Jose Mourinho. Robbie Fowler struck fear into defenders while leading Liverpool’s line. What do they all have in common? They have all – somehow – never made it into the PFA Team of the Year.
Here’s our list of six great players who never made the cut.
Robbie Fowler (Liverpool + others)
The Liverpudlian won the Young Player of the Year award twice in a row in 1995 and 1996, but never made the cut for the Premier League XI, despite scoring 163 Premier League goals. He was the second-top scorer in 1994-95 and 1995-95, beaten to the top spot both times by Alan Shearer.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
The Argentine is one of the greatest players to have ever played in the Premier League, and has won two titles and scored 143 goals in England’s top flight. For the fifth season running at Man City, he’s bettered the 20-goal mark, and is currently on 21 with 11 games to play. Harry Kane is certain to be in the team again, but Aguero could finally make his way into the TOTY this year. Five Argentines have ever made the PFA Team of the Year. The fact that one of them is Fabricio Coloccini and one of them isn’t Aguero is a travesty.
Xabi Alonso (Liverpool)
That’s right, football’s coolest man was never named in the Team of the Year. During five seasons at Anfield, the Spaniard wrote won Liverpool fans’ hearts and the 2005 Champions League. Alonso was revered for his poise and technique on the ball by most on these shores, except when it came to award ceremonies. Steven Gerrard took the plaudits there, but Liverpool looked a shell of a team when the former Spain midfielder left for Real Madrid in 2009.
Claude Makelele (Chelsea)
N’Golo Kante broke the mould when he won the Player of the Year award last season. Defensive midfielders aren’t generally recognised in the PFA Awards, particularly in the main gong, whose past winners have been Riyad Mahrez, Gareth Bale, Robin van Persie and Cristiano Ronaldo. And despite the fact that, more than a decade ago, Makelele was shielding the Chelsea defence much in the same way that his compatriot Kante is doing now, he was never named in the PFA TOTY.
Gianfranco Zola (Chelsea)
This is almost as absurd as Sergio Aguero’s omission. Zola dazzled the Premier League throughout his seven years at Chelsea. Zola helped Chelsea end their 25-year wait for a trophy, and had a penchant for scoring spectacular goals. A club legend, but he wasn’t deemed worthy of a place in a PFA XI. Despicable.
Ledley King (Tottenham)
Ledley King’s career may have been cut short by injury, but he was a colossus at the back for Tottenham when he was fit. Spurs fans will tell you how criminally underrated King is and was, but he was respected by his peers and even his rivals. Arsenal legend Thierry Henry said of his one-time North London derby opponent: “[Ledley King] will get the ball off you without you even noticing”
Marcel Desailly (Chelsea), Nigel Winterburn (Arsenal), Steve Bruce (Man United), Michael Essien (Chelsea), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Leeds United, Chelsea, Middlesbrough)