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Top Italian players in Premier League history

Friday13 November 2020 | 2:27
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Here is a look at the list of top Italian players in Premier League history.

Foreign products have surprised the English Premier League since it's inception on 20 February 1992. Although big-money transfers have promoted some great talents of Spanish and French star players, the close ties between the English and Italian players is a particular one. 

After Andrea Silenzi as the first Italian joined

Nottingham Forest

in 1995, the Italians have featured in the Premier League over and over. In the history of the

Premier League

, Italians have been among the most important foreign players. English clubs plundered Serie A for greatest players in the early days of the league and many high-profile Italian stars flourished in the early 2000s.

Having 4 World Cups and a European championship under their belt,

Italy

has long been a soccer superpower. With many young players competing for a position in the national team, in the expectation of winning a place for the Azzuri, many Italian footballers are heading to the Premier League.

Seventy-six Italian footballers have played in the Premier League over the course of the past 28 years. In this article, we take a look at the list of the

greatest Italian players in the history of the Premier League

after providing the list of the best German and French players in EPL history.

Top Italian players in Premier League history

Here is a look at the list of top Italian players in Premier League history.

Carlo Cudicini

Cudicini was the greatest goalkeeper in the EPL for a while. At Stamford Bridge, under Claudio Ranieri, Cudicini was outstanding. While Pert Cech's purchasing saw him taking a spot on the sidelines, his next transfer to join Tottenham Hotspur proved that he still had the skills required to play in the league. 

In 1992, at Serie A side Milan, Cudicini began his football, yet failed to make the step up and was transferred to Como before moving to Prato and then

Lazio

. He switched a year after to Castel di Sangro and then to Chelsea in 1999. He broke up into the first team despite the presence of Ed de Goey and for the 2001-02 campaign was named Chelsea's Player of the Year and stayed the first option until the 2004 signing of Petr Cech.

In January 2009, after playing 141 league games for the Blues, Cudicini left Chelsea and joined city rivals Spurs. During his time at

Tottenham

, he stayed the second choice and just played in 19 league matches for the Lilywhites. The Italian goalkeeper, a big, fast, energetic, and agile keeper, was one of the greatest goalkeepers in his prime in the world and is regarded to be one of Chelsea's greatest goalkeepers of all time.

A very late bloomer only rose to attention in his late 20s. Even so, while not being a very dominant goalkeeper in the penalty area Cudicini was an outstanding shot-stopper, known primarily for his tactical sense, awareness, and courage in goal, as well as his stamina, strength, and rapid reactions. Cudicini is regarded as one of the

top Italian players in Premier League history

.

Vincenzo Montella

  • Date of birth

    : Sep 6, 1973

  • Place of birth

    : Milano  Italy

  • Age

    : 47

  • Height

    : 1,84 m

  • Citizenship

    : Italy

  • Position

    : Goalkeeper

  • Foot

    : right

  • Current club

    : Retired

In January 2007, in the wake of playing 215 matches for Roma, the attacker went on to join Fulham. When Montella arrived, the club was struggling to remain in the league yet he started to score vital goals and changed everything. A critical one over

Blackburn

all but ensured remaining in the Premier League. 

On 4 January 2007, Montella joined Fulham on loan wearing the number 11 jersey. He played his first match for the club in the FA Cup and netted a brace over Leicester City. In the same tournament over Stoke City, he netted again on 27 January. 

Montella played his first game in the Premier League on 13 January 2007, over

West Ham United

. The Italian striker netted his first Premier League goal with a penalty shot against Spurs a week later. In a 1-1 draw which gave Fulham the lift to escape relegation, he also scored once again against Blackburn Rovers.

Montella soon grew important to the team and expressed his appreciation for making him feel at home at the club. However, after many public appeals, he never found his feet after the resignation of head coach Chris Coleman.

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Montella only began twice under successor head coach Lawrie Sanchez. Montella suggested that he prefers a transfer to Roma and seven days prior to its normal expiry and the loan was terminated by the manager, however, Montella is considered one of the

all-time best Italian footballers who played in Premier League

.

Because of his size and famous goal celebration, in which he stretched his hands like butterflies, Montella was nicknamed L'Aeroplanino. Renowned as a fast, hard-working, and clever left-footed forward, who was talented with agility, great technique, and a sharp eye for scoring.

Montella was able to hit the ball well with both feet. The player, one of the top Italian players in EPL history, was also portrayed as a" fine all-round player" who will always be known as one of the top Italian players in Premier League history.

He had been mainly deployed as a center-forward, a position in which he made a name as a deadly striker yet his wide range of abilities made him a flexible forward who could play in all offensive roles. Nevertheless, considering his talent and goalscoring streak as a player, Fabio Capello often blamed him for being a "selfish" footballer and he was often recognized to be vulnerable to injuries.

Nicola Berti

  • Date of birth

    : Apr 14, 1967

  • Place of birth

    : Salsomaggiore Terme  Italy

  • Age

    : 53

  • Height

    : 1,86 m

  • Citizenship

    : Italy

  • Position

    : Midfielder - Central Midfield

  • Foot

    : both

  • Current club

    : Retired

A World Cup runner-up in 1994, the midfielder, in the wake of his achievements with

Inter Milan

, joined Tottenham Hotspur with a great reputation. Berti was set to release nearly halfway through his second campaign despite demonstrating flashes of his international class.

Already played that well to be favorably recalled by the fans of Spurs, who are still dreaming about the Italian midfielder. Berti is considered one of the

top Italian players in Premier League history

.

Amid his early lack of remarkable subtlety or technical skills, as his confidence grew, Berti was able to significantly enhance his ball-handling skills, demonstrating great quickness and technical advancements over time, and was known because of his speed and passing ability. 

He was an ambitious, fearless, and tough-tackling midfielder who, because of his strong play, had a reputation for committing fouls.

He always used to put pressure on his rivals and push them rather than staying solely next to his team's defensive line. He was a towering, muscular, and charismatic footballer, especially known for his speed, agility, work-rate, and positional sense, which made him a flexible player good enough to play anywhere around the midfield.

These abilities helped him to support his side both in defense and attack, or after getting back the ball, continue to attack with long passes. Berti was additionally strong in the air, along with his ability to disrupt opposition moves, which, alongside his defensive focus, strong strike skills, and positional awareness, helped him to push forward.

While he was originally recognized in his adolescence for his physical similarity to playmaker Gianni Rivera, Berti's characteristics and straightforward playing style eventually led him to be likened to his childhood hero, Marco Tardelli. He was deployed on flanks as a winger by manager Arrigo Sacchi during the 1994 World Cup final against

Brazil

.

Massimo Maccarone

  • Date of birth

    : Sep 6, 1979

  • Place of birth

    : Galliate  Italy

  • Age

    : 41

  • Height

    : 1,80 m

  • Citizenship

    : Italy

  • Position

    : Forward - Centre-Forward

  • Foot

    : right

  • Current club

    : Retired

Maccarone’s began playing football as a member of Teeside, and after a while, he left the club on loan. Even so, he welcomed himself to the fans by his hard work following his comeback. Although many of his finest successes came in the UEFA Cup, Boro supporters always recall Big Mac. 

In July 2002, he joined Middlesbrough and played his first match over

Southampton

. He netted two goals in a 2-2 draw with Fulham in his second game the next week. Another highlight of his first campaign was netting two goals as Middlesbrough beat Tottenham Hotspur 5-1. Big Mac, one of the

top Italian players in EPL history

, scored 24 goals and provided an assist in one hundred matches for

Middlesbrough

.

Maccarone primarily played as a forward, but he was also capable to be used as a second striker or as a winger, where, thanks to his shooting abilities from distance, and his talent for scoring, he was able to shift into the middle of the field and curve shots into the goal.

Maccarone was able to shoot with both feet and had good technical awareness, speed, and flexibility, along with a powerful personality and good control in front of the goal. The striker was very good and efficient in the air as well and is regarded as one of the top Italian players in Premier League history.

Benito Carbone

  • Name in home country

    : Benito Carbone

  • Date of birth

    : Aug 14, 1971

  • Place of birth

    : Reggio Calabria  Italy

  • Age

    : 49

  • Height

    : 1,68 m

  • Citizenship

    : Italy

  • Position

    : Forward - Second Striker

  • Foot

    : right

  • Current club

    : Retired

Considering the list of top Italian players in Premier League history, it is worth mentioning that a lot of star players from different countries were signed by English clubs after Euro 96. Carbone was one of those footballers who played for

Sheffield Wednesday

,

Aston Villa

,

Bradford

, and then

Derby

.

The striker was globally recognized for his tactical abilities, his special dribbling, and feints, and for his determination supply teammates with assists as an attacking midfielder, a short, versatile, and intelligent player who was a great finisher as well. Even though his key role was to play as a supportive striker, he was capable of playing in many roles and was often used during his career as a forward.

Gianluca Festa

  • Date of birth

    : Mar 16, 1969

  • Place of birth

    : Monserrato  Italy

  • Age

    : 51

  • Height

    : 1,83 m

  • Citizenship

    : Italy

  • Position

    : Defender - Right-Back

  • Foot

    : right

  • Current club

    : Retired

Gianluca Festa was one of the Italian imports that in the mid-90s, considered as one of the top Italian players in Premier League history at least by Middlesbrough fans. The player strongly turned into a hero for the supporters as he managed to remain with them right after the drop. He was tough in the challenges and had a great game intelligence. 

Festa was generally used as a center-back, renowned for his power in the air, leadership, and his reading of the game. Festa played 109 games for Middlesbrough FC and 27 matches for

Portsmouth FC

in the Premier League to be present in our rundown as one of the

greatest Italian footballers in premier league history

.

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Attillio Lombardo

  • Date of birth

    : Jan 6, 1966

  • Place of birth

    : S. Maria La Fossa  Italy

  • Age

    : 54

  • Height

    : 1,75 m

  • Citizenship

    : Italy

  • Position

    : Forward - Right Winger

  • Foot

    : right

  • Current club

    : Retired

Despite the fact that he played fewer than fifty matches for the Palace, because of his amazing skills, Popeye was named as a member of

Palace

Centenary XI. 

Considered one of Sampdoria's greatest strikers of all time, Lombardo's most identifiable qualities as a soccer player throughout his football career were his physical characteristics, as well as his excellent speed, toughness, mental strength, and work-rate as an attacker and defender, which helped him to consistently handle the right side.

He additionally was famous for his composure, polite character, and determination, which helped him to prevent serious injury, and saw the player make a name for himself as a reliable and successful player for his clubs. Festa, one of the greatest Italian footballers in premier league history, was also a leading person in the locker room.

While he was not blessed with especially exceptional talent or technical abilities, he still had strong playmaking abilities and command, and he often used his pace, superiority, and stamina to beat rivals in one-on-one possible scenarios.

He was additionally well respected for his flexible style of play and hard-working, for his cleverness and precise passing abilities, along with his readiness to begin attacking games and rapid counter-attacks in the wake of fetching the ball. The player was also recognized for his participation in attacks. 

Gianluca Vialli

  • Date of birth

    : Jul 9, 1964

  • Place of birth

    : Cremona  Italy

  • Age

    : 56

  • Height

    : 1,80 m

  • Citizenship

    : Italy

  • Position

    : Forward - Centre-Forward

  • Foot

    : right

  • Current club

    : Retired

In 1996, Gianluca Vialli left Juventus as a free agent to join Ruud Gullit’s Chelsea. While he netted consistently and won the FA Cup in his first campaign, under Gullit, the player was not satisfied with playing time. Two years later, he was finally named player-manager to succeed the Dutchman at the age of 33.

The club was led to a victory in the UEFA Cup and third place in the table, their best result in the decade. Vialli was regarded as one of his generation's greatest and most reliable Italian attackers and one of the

Premier League's best ever Italian players

. A packed, aggressive, ambitious, and flexible striker, able to play everywhere.

Gianluca Vialli was deployed on the flanks or as a second striker in the center during his career, but his favorite role was in the middle as a target man where he could reap the benefits of his finishing skills.

The great finisher was famous for his shooting power and precision with either foot and head, allowing him to convert the opportunities both inside and outside the box. Along with his scoring ability, the Italian was additionally able to provide his teammates with great assists.

He played deeper positions in midfield as well, as a playmaker or offensive midfielder, thanks to his great positioning, tactical awareness, and distribution. Vialli was also blessed with good technical skills, feints, and passing ability, enabling him to play the ball, defeat rivals in one-on-one situations, and also maintain possession under pressure.

Vialli was a fast, courageous, hard-working, and aggressive player, equipped with speed, technical ability, and agility, and was renowned for his skills to drive rivals off the ball to take back the ball. In Italian football, Vialli was seen as a rare type of striker, mixing technique and goal-scoring abilities with pace, strength, and stamina.

He also succeeded in the air due to his excellent skill, strength, and endurance, and had a knack for netting acrobatic goals from volleys and bicycle kicks. At the time, Marcello Lippi lauded him and compared him to the iconic Italian footballer Luigi Riva.

In addition to his playing ability, he was also highly respected for his determination, management skills, powerful mentality, and his charismatic impact on the field. Vialli, one of the

best Italian players in Premier League history

, was portrayed by Marino Bortoletti as a "unique striker, blessed with power and elegance,"

Fabrizio Ravanelli

  • Date of birth

    : Dec 11, 1968

  • Place of birth

    : Perugia  Italy

  • Age

    : 51

  • Height

    : 1,88 m

  • Citizenship

    : Italy

  • Position

    : Forward - Centre-Forward

  • Foot

    : left

  • Current club

    : Retired

Few people wanted the player to leave the Serie A competitions in the summer of 1996 after having just won the Champions League title with the Old Lady. A hat-trick lifted Ravanelli to immediate legend status for the Middlesbrough fans on his first game for the club against the Reds.

The story ended sadly though. While becoming the Premiership's best-paying footballer, critiques of the tactics of the club and the town itself overshadowed the tenure of the Italian at the team. It was preceded by a loan at Derby well before surprise transfer to Dundee. 

Ravanelli was a fast, flexible, physically powerful, and hard-working left-footed attacker with a remarkable personality, famous for his scoring skills, along with his strength and strategic commitment, which frequently saw him participate in the defense.

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While he was originally not the most gifted or intelligent player, during his time with

Juventus

, where he developed himself as a top scorer, he was able to completely develop his game. Along with his scoring abilities, one of the best Italian players in Premier League history was also willing to perform as a playmaker, a brilliant goal scorer who was great in the air and who had a strong and precise shot. 

Roberto Di Matteo

  • Date of birth

    : May 29, 1970

  • Place of birth

    : Schaffhausen  Switzerland

  • Age

    : 50

  • Height

    : 1.78 m

  • Citizenship

    : Italy  Italy

  • Position

    : Midfielder - Central Midfield

  • Foot

    : right

  • Current club

    : Retired

One of the key factors behind the revival of Chelsea in the late 1990s, with his passing accuracy and box-to-box playing style, was the charismatic midfielder, Roberto Di Matteo. His collaboration with Dennis Wise was crucial to the club's performance in this era until a leg injury ruined everything.

Every football fan nowadays remembers the player coming back to the team on their greatest night of all time in Munich where they won the Champions League in 2012. 

As a player, in his first game for the Blues, Di Matteo netted the winner against Middlesbrough. His passing abilities and precise long-distance scoring with strong shots saw him becoming one of the most important factors of the revival of Chelsea in the late 1990s. In his initial campaign, he recorded 9 goals, namely long-range goals against Spurs and

Wimbledon

.

He enabled the team to complete sixth in the Premier League table which was their highest position since 1989-90 and to reach Wembley's 1997 FA Cup final.

In the first minute of the game right after kickoff, Di Matteo netted the winning goal from 30 yards the Blues won 2-0 over Middlesbrough. His goal was the fastest in a FA Cup final until 2009 before Louis Saha surpassing him scoring sooner for

Everton

.

Considering all-time best Italian footballers who played in Premier League, it is worth mentioning that Di Matteo displayed his value to the club again the next campaign, bagging 10 goals and several assists, as Chelsea won the Football League Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup which was their first European trophy since 1971.

Di Matteo netted the second goal in a 2-0 victory in the League Cup final, once more over Middlesbrough. In the 1998-99 campaign, Di Matteo was deployed in midfield along with Gustavo Poyet, Dennis Wise, and Dan Petrescu as the Blues completed third.

The player was overshadowed by injury in the 1999-2000 campaign, yet recovered late in the same year to net a number of vital goals, notably his third Cup-winning goal in the FA Cup.

In February 2002, at the age of 31, he decided to give up on dreams of recovering from injury and retired. The Italian played 175 games and netted 26 goals for the Blues to be fairly listed in our article as one of the Premier League's best ever Italian players.

Paolo Di Canio

  • Date of birth

    : Jul 9, 1968

  • Place of birth

    : Roma  Italy

  • Age

    : 52

  • Height

    : 1.78 m

  • Citizenship

    : Italy

  • Position

    : Forward - Centre-Forward

  • Foot

    : right

  • Current club

    : Retired

Di Canio was a flexible forward who played mostly as a deep-lying striker, though he was able to play as an AMF or a winger as well. A gifted but mercurial footballer, Di Canio was primarily famous for his elegance, eye for goal, technical abilities, and feints, along with his agility and positional awareness.

The player was portrayed as having "an eye for the spectacular" by The Irish Times in 2001 and is known as one of the Premier League's best ever Italian players. Di Canio was well known for his highly-strung personality, and also his toughness and violence on the field.

He played for Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham United, and

Charlton Athletic

in the English Premier League where he amassed 67 goals in 190 games.

Gianfranco Zola

  • Date of birth

    : Jul 5, 1966

  • Place of birth

    : Oliena  Italy

  • Age

    : 54

  • Height

    : 1,68 m

  • Citizenship

    : Italy

  • Position

    : Forward - Second Striker

  • Foot

    : right

  • Current club

    : Retired

Before joining Chelsea in 1996, Gianfranco Zola was a world-class footballer yet he proceeded to turn into a cult hero. Zola was named Chelsea's best player of all time and his famous No.25 jersey retired. Throughout his career, because of his style of play, the Italian was mostly used as a second striker or even an AMF.

The versatile player was even deployed as a winger. Zola was a dynamic, technically skilled, and unselfish team player, known for his game intelligence and finishing ability.

He was a skillful dribbler with great perception and ball control with both feet. Zola is considered one of the greatest dynamic strikers of all time, and one of the

top Italian players in Premier League history

.

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