10 of the best players never to be included in the PFA Team of the Year

Quick Reads

Sergio Aguero was finally included in the PFA Team of the Year in 2018, but former Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United heroes can continue to feel hard done by.

Despite being one of the Premier League’s best strikers since arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2011, Aguero earned his first inclusion in the XI seven years later.

We’ve looked back at 10 of the best players to never make the cut.

Robbie Fowler

We’ve already said quite a lot about our love of Robert Bernard Fowler, but it’s worth reiterating that throughout the 90s the Liverpool hitman was one of the most thrilling goalscorers in the Premier League.

As an outrageously talented youngster, the Toxteth Terror destroyed defences up and down the country for fun, and he remains sixth on the list of the Premier League’s top scorers of all time.

Due to similar reasons as to why he never truly established himself at international level, Fowler only missed out on the Team of the Year due to the ridiculous depth of striking talent in the division at the time.

But only Fowler has the ability to cure hangovers.

READ: Watching Robbie Fowler’s YouTube goal compilation can cure illness

Xabi Alonso

Few midfielders in the Premier League have been able to match the languid brilliance of Alonso, who helped form the backbone to one of the best teams to never win the title.

Steven Gerrard could hardly have paid a better compliment his former partner in crime by saying: “As I said, I couldn’t ask for a better midfield partner and when you left it broke my heart.”

In 2008-09, when Liverpool finished second and Alonso earned a move to Real Madrid, Ryan Giggs was preferred in central midfield.

READ: 17 of the best quotes on Xabi Alonso: “It was clear he was royalty’

Jermain Defoe

Like Fowler, Defoe has earned the reputation as one of the competition’s most reliable goalscorers – and he needs just one more goal to match the former Liverpool hero’s overall tally.

While the 35-year-old’s consistency has been admirable, he perhaps lacks that one standout season which would have forced his inclusion.

His personal best of 18 league goals in 2009-10 coincided with Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba scoring 26 and 29, respectively.

Gianfranco Zola

One of the most likeable footballers to grace these shores, Zola was the face of Chelsea’s late-90s continental flair.

Despite arriving at Stamford Bridge when he was already the wrong side of 30, the little magician spent seven seasons with the Blues and was named FWA Footballer of the Year in 1997.

While the goals of Ian Wright and Alan Shearer earned selection that season, neither player was capable of the moments of creativity which flowed through the Italian – just ask Gus Poyet.

READ: Gus Poyet & his best ever goal – when Gianfranco Zola kind of stole the show

Luka Modric

Like Alonso, Modric is one of those rare midfielders who make football look far too easy.

The Croatian may have initially struggled to adapt to English football, but by the time he left Tottenham for Real Madrid he was considered one of the best midfielders in the world.

Claude Makelele

A player so good he has a role named after him. There have been far more flashier players than Makelele in the Premier League, but few who have been so appreciated by their peers.

When Real Madrid sold Makelele and replaced the France international with David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane famously lamented: “Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine?”

Steve McManaman also wrote in his autobiography: “Ask anyone at Real Madrid during the years we were talking about and they will tell you he was the best player at Real. We all knew, the players all knew he was the most important.”

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

If the likes of Modric and Makelele suffered from being known for attributes other than goalscoring, then Hasselbaink seems to have been tarred by the opposite problem.

If anything, the former Leeds United and Chelsea hitman is known only for his goalscoring.

Only three foreign players – Thierry Henry, Robin Van Persie and Sergio Aguero – have scored more Premier League goals than Hasselbaink, who is the only multiple winner of the Golden Boot to never be named in the Team of the Year.

READ: A tribute to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink: Complex, controversial, clinical

Steve Bruce

No list of this ilk could be complete without Bruce. No, he didn’t win an international cap. No, he wasn’t once named in the Team of the Year, despite being named in the 2002 Team of the Decade. Yes, he really did write those three murder mysteries.

In comparison, Bruce’s defensive partner Gary Pallister was named in the Team of the Year five times but wasn’t included in the Team of the Decade. This doesn’t really make sense.

Freddie Ljungberg

Ljungberg may not be the first name you think of when you consider Arsenal’s Invincibles, but look a little closer and the former Sweden international was far from just a member of the supporting cast.

In 2001-02, Ljungberg was named Premier League Player of the Season as Arsenal won the Double, and he was also named in the Overseas Team of the Decade.

But he still missed out on a place in the Team of the Year that season as Arsenal team-mate Robert Pires and Ryan Giggs were preferred on the wings.

It’s also worth remembering that his red mohawk was f*cking great.

Ricardo Carvalho

Chelsea’s first tile-winning teams under Jose Mourinho were defined by their defensive resilience, with Carvalho forming an outsanding partnership with John Terry at centre-back.

But while Terry earned inclusion in the Team of the Year on four occasions, Carvalho failed to appear once, despite being named Chelsea’s Player of the Year in 2008.

Speaking after his first season in the Premier League, Fernando Torres named the Portuguese as is toughest opponent.

“Terry is captain so gets a much higher profile,” he said. “But he’s second to Carvalho. Riccy is superb.”


More from Planet Football

The records of every striker to previously keep Aguero out of TOTY

A tribute to the wonderful Gianfranco Zola and his bargain move to Chelsea

11 players we can’t believe were nominated for the Ballon d’Or

Can you name the top Premier League goalscorer for every nationality?