Fans often have varying opinions on what constitutes a great individual season for a soccer player. We’ve tried to narrow it down a little and list the 12 greatest seasons by English Premier League players based on a combination of individual and team success. This list features EPL players who shone in a particular season for their team on both the domestic and European fronts. Therefore it includes league, FA Cup, League Cup and continental feats.
The ultimate campaign would be one in which the player helped his team capture some type of silverware and also took some home himself for individual play. There have been hundreds of fantastic individual seasons since the Premier League was launched back in 1992/93, but these are the dozen we feel were the best of the bunch.
12. Dmitar Berbatov
It sometimes appeared that Bulgarian striker Dmitar Berbatov was too skilled for his own good and fans often thought he wasn’t trying hard enough or didn’t live up to his potential. Well, he definitely enjoyed an excellent season in 2010/11 as he helped Manchester United win the Premier League, reach the fifth round of the League Cup, the semifinals of the FA Cup and the Champions League Final. And to cap things off, Berbatov and Carlos Tevez of neighboring Manchester City each took home a Golden Boot that season for co-leading the league with 20 goals. Berabatov was also named to the Premier League Team of the Year for the second time. Fans in his homeland took notice as Berbatov was named the Bulgarian Footballer of the Year a record seventh time for his performances in 2010.
11. Robin van Persie
Arguably the best English campaign for former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie was 2012/13. He was named to the Premier League Team of the Year for the second season running and also led the league in scoring with 26 goals for the Golden Boot. He won the award the year before as well with 30 goals in his last season with Arsenal, but 2012/13 was more gratifying for the Dutchman. This is because United won their record 20th top-flight league title on April 22nd with a 3-0 home win over Aston Villa with man of the match Van Persie chipping in with a hat trick. The team only went as far as the fourth and sixth round of the League Cup and FA Cup and exited the Champions League in the final 16, but it was a special campaign for Van Persie.
10. Michael Owen
A lot of fans may have forgotten Michael Owen was arguably the best player in the world in 2000/01 when he took home Ballon d’Or Award for his performances. Owen may have finished just fifth in league scoring that season with 16 goals, but he scored 24 in total for the Reds in 46 contests to lead the team. The young striker wasn’t named the Premier League Player of the Year even though he was recognized as the best player in Europe and had won the award three years earlier. In fact, Liverpool didn’t win the league that year as they placed third. But Owen led the Merseysiders to a treble which consisted of the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup (Europa League). He scored both goals in the FA Cup in a 2-1 win over Arsenal after falling behind and enjoyed one of the most memorable seasons of his illustrious career.
9. Ruud Van Nistelrooy
Former Dutch international legend Ruud van Nistelrooy had a season to remember back in 2002/03 for Manchester United. The striker struck for a career-best 44 goals in 50 games in all competitions that campaign to lead the club with his 25 league goals being good enough for the Golden Boot. However, for some odd reason he failed to make it into the Premier League Team of the Year even though he took home the league’s Player of the Year silverware. Even so, Van Nistelrooy helped Man United claim the Premier League championship that season after they fought back from an eight-point deficit to Arsenal. United were also runners-up to Liverpool in the League Cup, made it to the fifth round of the FA Cup and the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
8. Luis Suarez
Even though Liverpool didn’t win any silverware in 2013/14 as they finished two points behind Manchester City, Uruguayan international striker Luis Suarez was the league’s dominant player. Suarez cleaned up when it came to individual recognition by taking home the Player of the Year Award, the Writers’ Player of the Year and the Barclays Fans’ Player of the Year Awards. He also won the Golden Boot for his 31 league goals in 33 games and was named to the Premier League Team of the Year. Reds’ fans and players voted him the squad’s player of the year for a couple of more awards. One of his most memorable games saw Saurez score four times in a 5-1 win over Norwich with his 40-yard volley being named Goal of the Season. Saurez also contributed in other ways with a dozen assists that season, mainly to his striking partner Daniel Sturridge.
7. Jamie Vardy
Another surprise Premier League winner of the six teams that have hoisted the trophy so far has been Leicester City. The club beat tremendous odds to capture the league in 2015/16 with English international striker Jamie Vardy leading the way and being named Player of the Month for October and November. The attacker was named to the Premier League Team of the Year for the first and only time so far that season and was also named the league’s player of the year. If that wasn’t enough, Vardy came in second in league scoring with 24 goals, the same as Sergio Aguero and just one back of Golden Boot winner Harry Kane. The fact Leicester went out of the FA Cup and League Cup in the third and fourth rounds didn’t matter at all to the fans as Vardy and his teammates pulled off the near impossible in the league.
6. Peter Schmeichel
He’s one of the greatest goalkeepers the world has ever seen and Peter Schmeichel lived up to that billing with his play for Manchester United in 1995/96. The former Danish international backstopped United to the Premier League title and FA Cup that season to become the first English team to win the double twice. Schmeichel was recognized for his mind-blowing saves by being named to the Premier League Team of the Year and being named the league’s Player of the Year. He posted 18 clean sheets in 36 league matches and 22 in all competitions. The great Dane also helped out at the other end of the pitch as he scored a late equalizer in a 2-2 UEFA Cup match against Rotor Volgograd to keep United’s 39-year undefeated record in Europe alive.
5. Alan Shearer
Just six teams have won the Premier League since its inception with the Blackburn Rovers being one of the unlikeliest of the bunch in 1994/95 as they’re now in the third-tier League One. Perhaps fans shouldn’t have been too surprised though since the club had the league’s all-time leading scorer Alan Shearer in the squad. The striker played 49 games in total and banged in a career-best 37 goals. He won the Golden Boot award with 34 strikes and his all-time mark of 260 in 441 games still stands. Shearer led Blackburn to their first league crown in 82 years by just a single point over Manchester United and was also awarded with the first ever Premier League Player of the Season Award for his efforts. Blackburn only went as far as the third round in the FA Cup and the fourth round of the League Cup, but considering Shearer was also named to the PFA Team of the Year, he definitely deserves his spot on this list.
4. Didier Drogba
Former Ivory Coast international striker Didier Drogba had a heck of a season for Chelsea in 2009/10 by scoring 37 times and setting up another dozen in his 42 appearances. A total of 29 of those goals were scored in the Premier League to give Drogba the Golden Boot and his scoring prowess helped the Blues win the league title. Carlo Ancelotti was in his first season as manager and although Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16 by eventual winners Inter Milan, they also won the FA Cup for the second straight season to become the seventh English squad to win the double. Drogba was named to the Premier League Team of the Year for the second time and also won the African Footballer of the Year and Chelsea Player of the Year Awards.
3. Dwight Yorke
Dwight Yorke was often forgotten or underrated, but this former striker from Trinidad and Tobago definitely earns his spot on this list for his play for Manchester United in 1998/99. Of course, that was the year United won a treble by capturing the Premier League, the FA Cup and Champions League. They became the first English side to do so and it’s still the club’s most successful season ever. Yorke led the attack that campaign with 29 goals in all competitions and his 18 league goals were enough to earn him a Golden Boot along with co-league leaders Michael Owen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Yorke was also co-leader in Champions League scoring along with Andriy Shevchenko at eight goals apiece, was named to the Premier League Team of the Year and took home the the league’s Player of the Year honor. It was quite a haul and season for Yorke.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Since Cristiano Ronaldo played with Manchester United you knew he would show up somewhere on this list. The Portuguese superstar made the Premier League Team of the Year in 2005/06 and 2006/07 and was named Player of the Year in 2006/07, but he was at his peak in England in 2007/08. He was named to the Team of the Year for the third of four straight seasons and won the Player of the Year award for the second consecutive campaign. Ronaldo also won the Golden Boot with 31 goals and led United with 42 in all competitions. He helped them win the Premier League and Champions League for a double even though they exited the League Cup in the third round and the FA Cup in the sixth round to eventual winners Portsmouth. Ronaldo scored United’s goal in the Champions League Final in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea, which they won in a shootout and was named the fans’ player of the match.
1. Thierry Henry
Former striker Thierry Henry really makes this list twice due to his performances for Arsenal in 2001/02 and 2003-04. He was named to the Premier League Team of the Year in 2001/02 and took home the writers’ Player of the Year Award. Henry scored 24 league goals to win the Golden Boot with 32 goals in all competitions. Arsenal won the Premier League and FA Cup double and made it to the fifth round of the League Cup. He was even better in 2003/04 when Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ went unbeaten to win the league. Henry scored scored 39 goals and set up another 14 with his 30 league goals guaranteeing the Golden Boot. Arsenal reached the semifinals of the FA and League Cups and quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup. He was named to the Team of the Year and also won the players and writers’ Player of the Year Awards. On top of that, Henry was runner-up in the FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or voting.