If we go back to when the Premier League started, there were 11 foreigners playing on the first weekend. 6 of them were Scandinavian, with the likes of Peter Schmeichel, John Jensen and Anders Limpar plying their trade in England at the time. Since then we have seen an influx of Scandinavian’s in the Premiership, who have improved the English game for the better. Here are my top XI Scandinavian’s that have played in the Premier League:
GK: Peter Schmeichel
(Man United, 1991-1999, Aston Villa 2001-02, Man City 2002-03)
The likes of Thomas Sorensen, Antti Niemi and Jussi Jaaskelainen put up cases for consideration, but there was only going to be one winner. The Great Dane is, in my opinion, the best keeper in Premiership history and one of the best ever. His intimidating physical presence deterred hundreds of attackers in his career and Schmeichel’s ability to throw the ball long distances could turn defence into attack in seconds.
LB: John Arne Riise
Liverpool have had numerous Scandinavian players in their history. Jan Molby, Vegard Heggem and Stig Inge Bjornbeye are some of them that have worn the famous red shirt. I’m going with Riise, his trademark forward runs and powerful shot helped them win numerous trophies like the Champions League and the FA Cup. Riise did have some bad moments, like scoring an own goal against Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League semi-final, but he was mostly a good player for Liverpool.
RB: Olof Mellberg
(Aston Villa, 2001-2008)
The Swedish defender just edges out Henning Berg for the right back spot. Able to play either as a right back or centre back, Mellberg was known for his strength, being good in the air and was a fan favourite at Villa Park. Now flourishing in Greece with Olympiakos.
CB: Sami Hyypia
Hyppia was an absolute bargain for Liverpool, joining the club for a paltry £2.6 million in 1999. Great in the air, solid and commanding, Hyppia was a rock at the back for a decade at Liverpool before leaving to join Bayer Leverkusen last summer, where has been in fine form this season.
CB: Martin Laursen
(Aston Villa, 2004-2009)
I’m going for Martin Laursen over Fulham defender Brede Hangeland. Even though injuries plagued his career, Laursen was a commanding presence for Villa and was strong, good in the air and even quite prolific as a centre back. Unfortunately, injuries meant Laursen had to retire last year, which was a big blow for Villa.
LM: Morten Gamst Pedersen
The Norwegian midfielder has been a great success for Blackburn since joining from Tromso in 2004. Capable of scoring spectacular goals, the left winger has been one of Blackburn’s star performers and is a bargain considering they only signed him for £2.5 million.
RM: Anders Limpar
(Arsenal 1990-94, Everton 1994-97)
The Swedish winger could be brilliant and infuriating in equal measures. Quick, excellent on the ball and with great vision, Limpar was capable of the spectacular but was just too inconsistent. Limpar helped Everton shock Man United in the 1995 FA Cup final, which they won thanks to a Paul Rideout goal.
CM: Thomas Gravesen
(Everton, 2000-2005, 2007-08)
Gravesen was a fan favourite at Goodison Park and the Danish midfielder was known for his tough-tackling style, good passing and ability to get forward. Hot headed, Gravesen had a temper and you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him. The Dane rejoined Everton on loan from Celtic for a season in 2007, but retired from the game last year.
CM: Freddie Ljungberg
(Arsenal, 1998-2007, West Ham, 2007-08)
The Swedish midfielder signed for Arsenal for £3 million in 1998 and was a great bargain for the club. Ljungberg’s excellent displays made him a key player for Arsenal but injuries dogged his later years with Arsenal and his season with West Ham. Ljungberg is now playing in America with Seattle Sounders.
ST: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
(Man United, 1996-2007)
The “Baby faced Assassin” was the ultimate super-sub. Solkskjaer was an excellent finisher that could score from anywhere and scored many important goals for United, notably the winner in the 1999 Champions League final. The Norwegian was that good he once scored 4 goals in 12 minutes in an 8-1 rout of Nottingham Forest. Injuries ruined his career though, particularly the later years and Solskjaer is now reserve team boss at United.
ST: Tore Andre Flo
(Chelsea, 1997-2000, Sunderland, 2002-03)
Flo was Chelsea’s version of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. The lanky Norwegian scored crucial goals for Chelsea and had excellent control and finishing skills for a man his size. Flo scored 51 goals for Chelsea in his three years at the club, before being sold to Rangers for £12 million in 2000. The less said that is said about Flo’s ill-fated spell at Sunderland the better.
Subs: Jussi Jaaskelainen (Bolton, 2001-present), Henning Berg (Blackburn and Man United, 1992-2003), Brede Hangeland (Fulham, 2007-present), Daniel Agger (Liverpool, 2005-present), Jesper Gronkjaer (Chelsea and Birmingham, 2000-05), Anders Svensson (Southampton, 2001-2005), John Carew (Aston Villa, 2006-present), Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal, 2007-present).
Any glaring omissions?
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