The Unsung Heroes Club

The Unsung Heroes Club

Now in its twentieth season, the Premier League has seen thousands of players come and go at the 45 clubs that have played there. But, while club chairmen are throwing satellite television money at glamorous marquee signings like a rabid punter unleashed on a free bets site, a number of players quietly racked up hundreds of top flight appearances.

Here are just five of those players, all of whom closed in on 200 appearances for Premier League clubs.

Do you remember them?

Kevin Gallacher (198 appearances)

Striker Gallacher featured in the inaugural 1992-93 Premier League season for Coventry City, scoring six goals in 20 appearances which prompted Blackburn Rovers to shell out £1.5 million on him in March 1993. There, he spent seven seasons at Ewood Park, scoring 46 goals in 139 appearances. During Rovers’ title-winning 1994-95 campaign, Gallacher suffered two broken legs and was restricted to one appearance against Crystal Palace, against whom he scored against. The 53-times capped Scottish international had the honour of becoming Bobby Robson’s first signing at Newcastle United, following Blackburn’s relegation in 1999. He went on to make 39 appearances for the Magpies, scoring four goals before dropping out of the Premier League with spells at Preston North End, Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town.

Michael Hughes (197)

Northern Ireland international Hughes racked up almost 200 top flight appearances with West Ham United, Wimbledon and Crystal Palace. He missed the first ever Premier League season, having been transferred from Manchester City to RC Strasbourg in 1992 but was back in England in 1994, where he spent two years on loan at West Ham. Hughes became the first player to change clubs for free on a Bosman ruling when he made his move to Upton Park permanent in 1996. After 83 appearance for the Hammers he joined Wimbledon in a £1.6 million switch September 1997 and played three seasons in the top flight, making 68 appearances. Following Wimbledon’s relegation and a contract dispute between the Dons and Birmingham City over who held his registration kept Hughes out of the game for over a year. He may have thought his time in the Premier League was over until he joined Crystal Palace in October 2003 and made 36 top flight appearances following the Eagles promotion for the 2004/05 season.

Dean Kiely (195)

Goalkeeper Kiely had to bide his time before he made his debut in the Premier League for Charlton Athletic at almost 29-years-old but went on to make 195 top flight appearances. After joining the Addicks, in Division One at the time, for £1 million from Bury in the summer 1999, Kiely won promotion that year and went on to spend six seasons in the Premier League and made 177 appearances. Indeed, between the 2001-02 and 2004-05 campaigns, Kiely missed just three games. He made 15 appearances in the top flight for Portsmouth but found his playing time limited following the arrival of David James. He played regularly for West Bromwich Albion in the Championship and following their promotion, he made his final three Premier League appearances during the 2008/09 campaign.

Oyvind Leonhardsen (186)

Norwegian international Leonhardsen spent nine years in the Premier League and graced four clubs with his wing wizardry – Wimbledon, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa, racking up 186 appearances and 30 goals in the process. After being voted Norway’s best player in 1994, he joined Wimbledon where he spent three seasons, making 76 appearances. In June 1997, he joined Liverpool in a £3.5 million but found his playing time restricted to just 37 appearances in two seasons at Anfield. A £3 million switch to Tottenham Hotspur chalked up a further 54 appearances before a free transfer move to Aston Villa in August 2002 brought about his final 19 in the top flight. The midfielder returned to Norway to play out the remainder of his career at Lyn and Stromsgodset.

Neil Maddison (185)

Midfielder Maddison appeared 152 times for Southampton in the Premier League after its inception in 1992 with his final playing time at the Dell coming at the beginning of the 1997-98 campaign. He then dropped down a division, joining the Middlesbrough revolution in a £250,000 switch but was back in the top flight the following season and made a further 33 Premier League appearances. Loan spells at Barnsley and Bristol City followed before he went on to make over 100 appearances for his hometown club Darlington, at whom he also held joint caretaker manager positions.

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