From Santa Cruz to Ben Arfa: 10 Premier League Players The Streets Will Never Forget

Clint Dempsey Fulham

"The street will never forget"

You know the drill: school till 3, tea at 6, jumpers for goalposts in between and after. These are the players the streets won't forget and are the ones we all tried to imitate at your 5-a-side as a teenager and on the playground as a child.

Whilst the world seems to only remember the Premier League superstars like Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero, there are players out there that conjure up the street-smart brilliance and remind us that there are many heroes out on that pitch from the 'ends' of which football genius and passion was founded.

From ridiculous goalscoring feats with Michu, to scintillating 5-a-side-esque ability from Ben Arfa. There are a plethora of notable men down the years who have given us that touch of reality from the days in the back garden.

Here are the 10 Premier League players we will never let go in no particular order.

Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse

We begin the list with two players rather than one, as you simply can't include one without the other in this sense. Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse briefly took over the streets of Premier League football with their incredible performances in the 2011/12 season with Newcastle United, helping the Magpies to achieve Europa League football that year.

Combined, the two Senegal internationals created something magical, bagging 29 Premier League goals that year. Two men representing their country scored magical goal after magical goal that year and truly gobsmacked us all with a highlight reel that rivals most.

Everything they touch turned to gold from Cisse's ridiculous double at Stamford Bridge, to Ba's hat-tricks against Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City.

These two were majestic, and the streets salute you both.

Michu

The best one-season wonder in Premier League history? There aren't many who match his feats from the 2012/13 campaign.

Michu signed for Swansea City for just £2m and he was easily the bargain of that year and arguably the bargain of the decade. His 18 Premier League goals in 2012/13 was only bettered by the very best in Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale, whilst Christian Benteke bagged 19.

The Spaniard was that good back then he would make his way into the Spain squad at a time when they were the world's best national team and dominating every other nation.

A League Cup would also come this year after three goals from six in this competition, but Michu's career soon after spiralled down in stunning fashion. Three years after this season, he joined amateur side Langreo in Spain to reunite with his brother who was head coach, before retiring with second tier Oviedo in Spain at just 31.


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Ben Arfa

Moving on from the arguably the best one-season wonder, to arguably the greatest talent that never was. Hatem Ben Arfa scored some goals that even the great Lionel Messi would be proud of - seriously, they were that good.

The Frenchman's goal against Blackburn in the FA Cup is one of the best in the competition's 148-year history, whilst his mazy run from his own half against Bolton Wanderers was something most can only dream of.

Ben Arfa truly could have been one of the world's best and he did refind this scintillating form with Nice back in 2016/17, bagging 17 in Ligue 1. However, Paris Saint-Germain were just another gargantuan outfit left frustrated when he couldn't keep this fabulous ball rolling a year later.

For now, just rewatch a genius at work against Blackburn and just imagine if Messi scored this.

Adel Taarabt

If the term 'street footballer' found it's way into the Oxford Dictionary, you'd see the exact definition of Adel Taarabt.

In terms of pure skill, the Moroccan is up there with some of the Premier League's greatest ever. In terms of his brilliance in the Championship, the same applies. However, when he moved up to the top-flight, things changed drastically.

Taarabt was just 20 years old when he bagged 19 goals and 21 assists as Queens Park Rangers ran riot in the second-tier. This was almost 10 years ago, and this outrageously talented player should be in his peak years right about now. Instead, he's still struggling for Benfica in Liga NOS this season.

We will never forget his obscene trickery for QPR, however, and although he never transferred his Championship brilliance into Premier League stardom, he did score this outrageous goal against Fulham.

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Clint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey is unquestionably the best outfield American to have landed in European football, and arguably the greatest to ever be produced from this great sporting nation.

Whilst the likes of Landon Donovan did well at Everton and as Christian Pulisic continues to grow, Dempsey established himself as one of the Premier League's best once upon a time.

12 goals in the Premier League season of 2010/11 was bettered with 17 goals and seven assists a campaign later and magical goals against Stoke, Sunderland and Juventus were just a selection of memorable efforts from this unforgettable highlight reel.

A legend of Craven Cottage and one of the best exports from North America we've ever seen in Europe and this goal against Juventus in the Europa League is one of the most famous in the club's history.

Morten Gamst Pedersen

Morten Gamst Pedersen spent nine years at Blackburn Rovers before moving to Turkey and then ending back up in Norway where he has played for the past nine seasons.

The midfielder had a wand of a left foot but was very well-known for his capabilities to work with both feet, scoring fabulous goals throughout his time in England. Pederson would net 47 times for Rovers across 349 appearances and free kicks, trademark volleys, crucially-timed goals and wizardry on the ball would be present throughout.

A true legend of the Lancashire club and if it wasn't for such a star-studded group of midfielders throughout the noughties, Pedersen probably would have found his way into the PFA Team of the Year debate every now and then.

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Roque Santa Cruz

After 19 goals in his debut season with Blackburn, Roque Santa Cruz became an immediate hero for the club and has remained one of their best top flight players ever since.

Santa Cruz signed from Bayern Munich in 2007 but made the big-money move to Manchester City in 2009 where the world forgot his exceptional talent after two poor seasons at the Etihad.

The streets will never forget you, though. A special player whose name often gets screamed when an old-schooler attempts the long-range effort at 5-a-side.

Christian Benteke

The only man who is still active in the Premier League on this list, and his struggles post-Aston Villa makes us all forget the magnificent season he once had.

There was a period where the Belgian was one of English football's most threatening players, to the point where if a cross went in, Benteke would leap the highest and smash the ball home almost every time.

Combining exceptional physicality with extraordinary technical ability for a man who is 6ft 3, the former Villa hero scored 19 goals in the 2012/13 season. He has shown snippets of brilliance since, such as his breathtaking overhead kick against Manchester United for Liverpool.

This goal will forever be overlooked because of Anthony Martial's debut goal that day, but Benteke's strike wasn't too dissimilar from Wayne Rooney's famous bicycle kick at the same end of Old Trafford.

Forget his days with the Reds and Crystal Palace, instead, remember Benteke's 2012/13 campaign. Just look at his leap and header in this hat-trick for his second goal.

Jay-Jay Okocha

'He's so good they named him twice,' as the Bolton Wanderers fans use to scream.

Jay-Jay Okocha was a cultural icon and a man that children of the noughties tried to emulate on the school field just as much as they would have for a player at the top end of the table. Okocha would spend four seasons at Bolton and whilst he was far from a decent goalscorer, his trickery on the ball was like nothing we had seen before.

Rainbow flicks and audacious scoops were something that you use to only do on FIFA Street, but when the Nigerian came along, attempting one became the norm and how he managed to make these skills look so easy, turned him into a fan favourite across the Premier League.

Okocha would only score 14 league goals and register 11 assists for Bolton, but what he did on the ball at times will never be forgotten and it still echoes today. Treat yourself to a few FIFA Street-esque moments below:

Andy Johnson

A classic player. A player we often forget to name when talking about elite English strikers down the years of Premier League action.

Andy Johnson was the top English scorer in the year of 2004/05, just one year after the golden generation of England failed once more at Euro 2004. Whilst Sven-Göran Eriksson had his eyes on the up and coming strikers of Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe, Johnson, at just 25, was overlooked throughout his career.

28 Championship goals for Crystal Palace in 2003/04 was just the starting point for the Englishman, as he netted 21 with the Eagles in the Premier League the season after.

A true goalscorer and a man who never got the credit he deserved and if it wasn't for the golden generation, he'd likely have many England caps. Relive his clinical 2004/05 season right here:


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