This week Scotland celebrated their official national day, St. Andrew’s Day.
Obviously, when I heard this news, I looked at how we could milk some content out of the patron saint of Scotland. The content doesn’t rest here, no matter what day it is.
Scotland’s Football History
Scotland may not have the richest history in terms of football, but it certainly is a nation that has produced some stars over the years and is understandably proud of that fact. Something that Ireland can relate to.
Kenny Dalglish, Dennis Law, Billy McNeil, and Jimmy Johnstone are just some of the massive names to come out of the country over the years.
The Scots continue to do themselves proud and their future legacy looks in good hands. They even managed to qualify for the delayed Euro 2020 competition next summer. Beating Serbia on penalties in the qualification play-off final, earned them a place in their first major tournament in 22 years.
Now, I’m what the Scots would refer to as a wane.
This means I missed the heyday of watching the Scottish greats of yesteryear play on their big domestic and European stages.
One thing I have been blessed to witness is the talent in the Premier League. Trust me, there has been plenty of Scottish talent in the league since its inception in 1992.
The Scottish Premiership (SPL) may get a hard time by non-fans. But no doubting the cream of the Scottish crop usually filter down to the top tier league in England.
These are the lads we will be speaking about today. In honour of good old Saint Andrew himself, let’s look at the best Scottish players to ever play in the Premier League.
Some quick caveats before we dive in.
Longevity, success, and general legacy were all taking into consideration.
Also, I don’t like putting current players into these types of list. I’ve done it before and some of them don’t age well to put it lightly.
So, as good as Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney are you won’t be seeing any of that lot on here.
Finally, some honourable mentions. David Weir, Brian McClair, Gordon Strachan, Don Hutchinson, and Neil Sullivan just missed out for one reason or another.
5. Kevin Gallacher
Gallacher may have been higher on the list if it wasn’t for some bad fortune on his behalf.
He is probably most notable for his six-year spell at Blackburn Rovers from 1993 until 1999. During which Blackburn won their first and to date only Premier League title in 1995.
Unfortunately, Gallacher was nursing a broken leg during this golden era in Blackburn’s history. This meant he was out for most of this league winning campaign and doesn’t quite get the plaudits like others in that squad.
Still he is highly regarded by the Blackburn faithful for his wider contributions. Kevin made 144 league appearances and bagged 46 league goals for Blackburn.
Before this he started his Premier League journey with Coventry City. Taking part in the first two seasons of the league and became a fan favourite at Coventry in the process.
He would also become Sir Bobby Robson’s first signing at Newcastle United in 1999.
Everywhere Gallacher went his work rate and eye for goal endeared him to the fans.
4. Gary McAllister
The man from Motherwell was with Leeds United during the inaugural Premier League season.
McAllister remained with Leeds until 1996, by that point he was already captain of the side as he was coming into the peak of his career.
While Leeds somewhat struggled during the early days of the Premier League, McAllister didn’t.
He was included in the 1993/94 Premier League Team of the Season.
Gary would move on to have his first of two spells with Coventry City in 1996 until 2000. With his second spell coming in 2002 until his retirement in 2004 as a player/manager.
However, many younger fans would remember McAllister from his two-season spell with Liverpool, sandwiched in between his runs with Coventry.
He was 35 when he arrived on Merseyside, no spring chicken at all.
Despite that he had a big impact at Anfield during this time. Becoming well regarded as a set piece specialist.
During his first season with Liverpool, Gary won the FA Cup, League Cup, and the UEFA Cup.
Overall, the midfielder made 325 Premier League appearances and scored 49 goals, most of them crackers.
3. Colin Hendry
Hendry was already ten years into his football career by the time the first Premier League campaign rolled around.
He was with Blackburn Rovers at the time and unlike his fellow Scotsman Kevin Gallacher, luck was on his side.
Colin was a vital part of their league winning squad in the 1994/95 season. The tough as nails defender proved to be a key figure in the heart of the Rovers defence.
This all earned Colin the reputation as someone to be feared and respected on the pitch.
This would be the pinnacle of his Premier League career.
Hendry also played for Coventry City at the start of the millennium, like every other Scottish footballer apparently.
He would be part of the Coventry side that got relegated at the end of the 2000/01 season.
The following season Hendry did return to the Premier League to finish out his career with Bolton Wanderers.
Hendry is now regarded as one of the best Scottish defenders to ever play in the Premier League. He played 218 times in the English topflight and will always be remembered as a Premier League winner.
2. Duncan Ferguson
Easily the most infamous Scotsman to ever grace the Premier League.
Putting his physical altercations to one side, ‘Big Dunc’ wasn’t a man to mess with on the pitch either.
The 6ft 4 striker was a terror for any defender, even back when a centre back had to be a certified lunatic to play in that position.
Ferguson started out his Premier League tenure on loan with Everton, which quickly turned into a permanent move.
It was with the blue half of Liverpool where Ferguson really made something of himself in England.
He had two spells with the club, making 239 league appearances and scoring 60 times.
Ferguson would even win his sole major honour in England with Everton. The Toffees won the FA Cup in 1995, beating Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley Stadium. Ferguson came off the bench and made his presences felt for most of the second half.
In between his Everton spells, Duncan played for Newcastle United from 1998 until 2000. Almost typed Coventry City by force of habit.
That wasn’t a highlight patch for Ferguson as it was a very injury riddled spell of his career.
As we know, he returned to his spiritual home of Goodison Park. He would even play during a testimonial game in his honour in 2015 against Spanish side Villareal.
Ferguson even had a short but memorable spell as Everton’s interim manager in 2019. He remains at the club as the assistant to current boss Carlo Ancelotti. Destined to intimidate the opposition of Everton for years to come.
1. Darren Fletcher
Ability wise he may not be the best Scottish player to ever play in the Premier League. But he is the most decorated, it’s not even close.
Now, by no means was he a sloth on the pitch.
The best Scotsman of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson always had players like Fletcher around the club.
Even during Darren’s time, himself, Michael Carrick and Park Ji-Sung were all reliable clogs in the successful Manchester United system. The work horses of the midfield that would never get much attention, but the team would be lacking without them.
Fletcher played at this incredibly high level for most of his Premier League career.
He joined United as a youth player in 1995, making his senior debut in 2003. Darren would eventually leave the club in 2015, 20 years after signing as a junior.
During this time, he won five Premier League titles, the Champions League, the FA Cup, the League Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
His last league winners medal even came after returning from a lengthy battle with an internal illness.
Fletcher capped off his career with four years away from Manchester. Signing for West Brom and later Stoke City. He was even giving the captain’s armband upon arrival at the Hawthorns.
Fletch played a staggering 341 games in the Premier League. Winning it all in the process.