For one reason or another some players can’t sustain a prolonged level of greatness in the Premier League but they leave their marks on the competition nonetheless. So we have decided to see who are these greatest one season wonders in Premier League history
Premier League is a competition with a lot of mixed fortunes for teams and players alike. Where teams that were once its champions are now relegated to the lower leagues or players that once were at the top of the league see their fortunes quickly evaporate in the upcoming seasons. So we have decided to take a trip down memory lane to remember some of the greatest one season wonders in Premier League history. Those players who for one reason or another were consistently great for only one season and only showed glimpses of greatness after.
In fact, consistency is always the key for being a footballer and it’s what ironically some great players like Mohammed Salah and Harry Kane were accused of after their first great season. But the difference with them and these players on this list is that they have continued to produce results. But let’s not remember these players in a negative way and instead focus on that great season they had that deemed them best one season wonders in EPL history.
There were a lot of players that could have made it into our list of greatest one season wonders ever in Premier League, like Benni Mccarthy, Micheal Ricketts and Marcus Stewart, but in the end only these 9 made it. So let’s see who made it onto our list:
We start our list of best one season wonders in EPL history with the former Finnish striker who spent more than a decade of his career in England, most of which were technically spent at Chelsea although he was sent on 5 different loan spells by the club. Despite being one of the best Finnish players ever, by being the country’s 2nd highest international goal scorer, Forsell’s career was perhaps hindered because of poor transfer choices and injuries.
Forsell Chelsea when he was only 18 years old and spent 5 seasons at the club, 2 of which were spent on loan at Crystal Palace with another 6 months at Borussia Monchengladbach. His spell at ‘Gladbach was successful which earned him another loan and this time to the Premier League side, Birmingham City.
Forsell impressed at Birmingham as he managed to score 17 goals in the Premier League in the 2003-04 season, which was more than any Chelsea player. He picked up the Player of the Month award for the March of 2004 and was named Birmingham’s Player of the Season and was subsequently loaned out to Birmingham City for another season.
But injury struck in his second season at Brimingham and despite Forsell making only 4 appearances that season his contract was made permanent and he became a Birmingham City player. Birmingham was relegated in the 2005-06 season and went down with them only to have another injury riddled season, with him never being able to repeat his brilliant form of 2003-04 season which is why he is usually among the players who are called the greatest one season wonders in Premier League history.
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Mpenjani ‘Mpe’ Mwaruwari, or simply as we know it Benjani, was a Zimbabwean striker who played for many clubs, including Portsmouth, Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland, during his career and despite starting his career back in his home country, it was at Auxerre in France that Benjani established himself as a great potential which subsequently earned him a move to Premier League side Portsmouth, where he eventually became one of the greatest one season wonders ever in Premier League history.
During his 4 seasons at Auxerre, Benjani never showed that he was a consistent goal scorer but he had bursts of brilliance and goal scoring streaks which coupled with his high work-rate earned a couple of suitors, one being Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth. He made the move to the Premier League side in the January of 2006 but did not impressive all that much in the following 18 months, scoring only 7 in 50 games.
That all changed however as the 2007-08 season came around as Benjani suddenly took his game to a whole other level. In a particular 7-4 win against Reading, which is still the highest scoring match in Premier League history, Benjani scored a hat-trick. That hat-trick started his streak of goals which included another hat-trick against Derby County and Benjani reached the January of 2008 with 12 goals in 27 matches.
But by now Manchester City was looking to sign him, which they succeeded and he famously scored on his debut in the Manchester Derby but it went downhill after that as he only managed to score 7 goals in his 2 and a half seasons at City and went on to only score 5 goals in the 5 seasons that followed after before his retirement. And thus Benjani, who was one of the standout players of the 2007-08 season, became one the greatest one season wonders in Premier League history.
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Once destined to be the heir to the likes of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, Robinho never managed to reach the levels that was expected of him but perhaps one his greatest seasons was his first season at Manchester City, which were at that time just bought by Abu Dhabi United Group and had a dream of being one of the big clubs in England, so naturally a transfer of Robinho’s caliber was very exciting for them. But his time there did not last long and since then he has been deemed one of the most well-known Premier League one season wonders of all time.
After a fairly successful last season with Real Madrid, Robinho and the club were keen on him moving to another club. Robinho’s favored destination was England, so a bidding war commenced between Chelsea and Manchester City which City won in the end by paying Real Madrid €41 million. Robinho went on to have a really good campaign in the 2008-09 season, scoring 14 goals in the Premier League and becoming the league’s 4th top goal scorer.
The following season was not so great however, as Robinho’s campaign was hindered by injury and his subsequent fall down the pecking order which saw his time on the pitch being limited. After failing to score any league goals despite 10 appearances, Robinho was sent on loan to Santos and his time at the Premier League came to an end. Although he did go on to have career highs like winning the Serie A with Milan, his time at Manchester City, particularly the 2008-09 season, is why he is usually named as one of the greatest one season wonders in Premier League history.
The case of Asamoah Gyan as one of the greatest one season wonders ever in Premier League is a curious one because it may very well be due to the fact the he chose to remain in England for only a season before abruptly joining Al Ain in Emirates. But nonetheless the fact remains that one of the stars of 2010 World Cup came to Sunderland of all places, had a great season and was gone after only a season.
In 2010, Asamoah Gyan who was already a veteran of Italian and French leagues, helped his country reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup by scoring three goals. Many clubs were after him after the tournament but Gyan chose Sunderland and he delivered on what was expected of him, scoring 10 and assisting a further 4 goals for Sunderland in the Premier League and being one of their star players.
But after the 2010-11 season ended, Gyan decided to capitalize on his form and success and secured a loan move to Al Ain which saw him earn 4 times the amount he was being paid by Sunderland. He would later make that move permanent and would have a really successful spell at Al Ain, scoring 123 goals in 123 matches.
But the fact remains that by only spending a season in the Premier League, Gyan’s performances has garnered him the title of being one of the greatest one season wonders in Premier League history. Seeing how great he did after leaving Sunderland suggests that he may have had further success in England but hey, money talks!
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When most avid football fans hear the name of Papiss Cisse, they are reminded of THAT goal against Chelsea, if you haven’t seen it do yourself a favor and go watch it now. It’s rare that they remember Cisse as one of the best ever EPL one season wonders but the fact remains. What’s even more impressive is that the season where are discussing here is only the latter half of the 2011-12 season and not the whole season.
After a great two and a half seasons with Freiburg in Bundesliga, in which he scored 37 goals in 65 matches, Cisse joined Newcastle in the January 2012 to link up with his teammate from the Senegal national team, Demba Ba. The pair enjoyed one of the greatest Premier League partnerships and Cisse managed to score 13 goals in 14 appearances. His goal against Chelsea which was mentioned above even won the award for the goal of the season.
But Cisse failed to repeat his form in the upcoming seasons, and despite him scoring 11 goals in 2014-15 season, he never managed to climb as high as his performances in 2011-12 season. Although he did have further success in the Turkish league, where he is joined the Turkish giant Fenerbahce only recently after impressing at Alanyaspor. So despite being one of the greatest one season wonders in Premier League history, Cisse’s story has more of a happy ending than some of the other player on this list.
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Michael Bridges is maybe somewhat lesser well-known amongst the greatest Premier League one season wonders of all time. It’s easy to look back at his career and dismiss his talents and say that the one great season he had was completely an accident but Bridges’ career was seriously hampered by an injury he had right after his great season with Leeds United so it may be the fact that his development as a player was halted because of it.
But nonetheless, the season that we are talking about here is the 1999-00 season where after showing a great potential with Sunderland and helping them climb back to the Premier League, Bridges got his big move and went to Leeds United who were one of the league’s contenders back then. In the season that followed, Bridges went on to score 19 Premier League goals, including a hat-trick against Southampton, and helped Leeds United become 3rd in the League, qualify for the Champions League and even reach the semi-finals of UEFA Cup.
But sadly his success did not last that long as he was seriously injured in the following season in a game against Beskitas which would be the start of his downfall as he struggled to gain form and fitness after that and only appeared in 10 games in the following 4 seasons without scoring any goals. Bridges would later experience success again in the lower leagues of England and even Australia but he will always be remembered as one of the greatest one season wonders in Premier League history.
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Andy Johnson’s inclusion on the list of the best one season wonders in EPL history is probably a huge disservice to the player, as he had several great seasons and even career, especially at the Championship level, but his form in the 2004-05 season was so great that it has to be mentioned in a list such as this. After all, Johnson was a man that went toe to toe with the legendary Thierry Henry when he was at his best, so it would be a shame if we did not include his achievement on our list.
After helping Crystal Palace to come by becoming the Championship’s top scorer with 27 goals in 42 matches, Andy Johnson wasn’t planning on stopping as he continued his goal scoring exploits in the Premier League as well. He ended up scoring a whopping 41% of Palace’s goals in the 2004-05 season and was the highest scoring English player in the league with 21 goals. He finished the season with the 2nd most goals, only behind Thierry Henry and with 7 goals more than the 3rd place Robert Pires.
This all prompted England’s then manager Sven-Goran Eriksson to call up Johnson to the national team and he ended up representing his country 8 times. But even with all his goals Crystal Palace got relegated and in a surprise move he didn’t leave the club but rather signed a new contract with them. He finished the following season with 15 goals in the Championship and as Palace failed to secure promotion, Johnson then opted to leave.
After his transfer to Everton and coming back to the Premier League however, Johnson never really managed to repeat the numbers he had at Palace, only scoring 11 in his first season at Everton. But nonetheless, he was still a great player. However, because of the 2004-05 season he will no doubt be always mentioned as one of the greatest one season wonders in Premier League history.
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One of the greatest Paraguayan players of all time who had great success with Bayern Munich over his 8 season stay with the German giant, also became one of the best ever EPL one season wonders after joining Blackburn Rovers in 2007. Back in the early 2000s Santa Cruz was always deemed as one of the greatest South American prospects but he never fully lived up to the hype and his greatest season in Europe became a one-off rather than being a regular occurrence. This doesn’t take away from the fact that he was a great player however, especially for his country.
After joining Bayern Munich only being 18 in 1999 and winning 5 Bundesliga, 4 DFB Pokal trophies and a Champions League trophy with them, Santa Cruz was ready for a new challenge and Blackburn Rovers seemed like the perfect place. Santa Cruz hit the ground running as he proved the player everyone thought he could be, scoring for fun and taking the league by storm.
Santa Cruz managed to score on his debut for the club as he was substituted on the pitch and went on to score against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City in the coming weeks, he even scored a hat-trick against Wigan Athletic, despite Blackburn’s 5-3 loss. He picked up the Player of the Month award in December of 2007 and ended up the campaign with 19 goals in 37 matches, being the 2007-08 season’s 4th highest goal scorer and Blackburn Rovers’ Player of the Season.
His formed in the following season and in fact the rest of his stay at European clubs dipped significantly as he only managed to score 4 goals in the Premier League in the following campaign before his departure for an unsuccessful stay at Manchester City in 2009, therefore becoming one of the greatest one season wonders in Premier League history. However, being Paraguay’s record goal scorer will be Roque Santa Cruz’ long lasting legacy, rather than his one great season at Blackburn Rovers!
Few players have achieved cult status in the Premier League over the years but Miguel Perez Cuesta known as Michu is certainly one of them. Unfortunately for the Spaniard he has become synonymous with the term ‘One Season Wonder’ as he became the best one season wonders in EPL history in the 2012-13 season after joining Swansea on the back of having a great season with Rayo Vallecano, in which he scored 15 goals in La Liga.
Michu started the 2012-13 at Swansea just as well as he marked his debut for the club by scoring a brace as well as assisting for another a goal in a 5-0 win over QPR. He absolutely took the league by storm and ended up scoring 19 goals and became the club’s Player of the Season but perhaps his greatest achievement was helping Swansea City win the League Cup in the 2012-13 season and qualify for the next year’s Europa League.
However, an ankle injury in the upcoming season meant that Michu’s great goal scoring streak would come to an end and he would only score 2 goals in 17 matches after which he was loaned out to Napoli where another injury prevented him to make an impact and he was subsequently released by Swansea City.
That ankle injured dogged Michu for the rest of his career and eventually forced him to retire at the age of 31. The fact that he was on the right path and even got called up to the then world champions Spain only for it to be hampered by injuries is a sad truth that isn’t that uncommon in football but as they say “the streets will never forget Michu”!