Ireland has produced some fantastic footballers throughout the years. Let’s take a look together at the top 10 players to have graced the Irish Premier Division.
1. Niall Quinn
Niall Quinn is a footballing legend in Ireland. He was Ireland’s all-time top goalscorer until Robbie Keane took over. Quinn was a goalscoring machine, and if you hit the ball in his direction, it would usually result in a goal. He spent his best years at Sunderland, where he formed a fantastic partnership with Kevin Philips, earning the nickname “Quinninho” from Irish fans.
2. Steve Staunton
Steve Staunton was a very sturdy full back who played for Liverpool and Aston Villa before retiring at Walsall. He won the FA Cup with Liverpool in 1989 and made over 100 appearances for the Premier League giants. Despite a difficult time as the Ireland manager, Staunton will be remembered for leaving it all out on the pitch, and his sunblock-covered nose during World Cup ’94.
3. Paul McGrath
Paul McGrath is arguably the greatest centre half in the history of Irish football. He played his formative years at Manchester United, where he won the FA Cup in 1985, winning the Man of the Match honor in the final. McGrath showed amazing athleticism at Aston Villa, where he read the game like no other player since.
4. John O’Shea
John O’Shea is one of the most versatile players in the Premier League, having played in every position for Manchester United, including between the sticks against Spurs. O’Shea won four Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, four Community Shields, one Champions League, and one FIFA Club World Cup.
5. Damien Duff
Damien Duff was a prodigy in his early days at Blackburn, where he won the League Cup. He helped Jose Mourinho to a League and League Cup double in 2005 and struck up a nice wing partnership with Arjen Robben. Duff moved to Newcastle in 2006 before being signed by Fulham, with whom he made a good run for the UEFA Cup, reaching the final.
6. Denis Irwin
Denis Irwin won seven Premier League titles, three FA Cup winners’ medals, a League Cup winner’s medal, and Champions League and Cup Winners’ Cup honours as part of “Fergie’s Dreamteam.” He was comfortable in either full back position and was also a dead ball specialist, excelling at free kicks and penalties.
7. Richard Dunne
Richard Dunne played for the blue side of Manchester in 2000 as a right back but excelled in the centre half position. A real fan favourite at City, Dunne won the Club Player of the Year award a record four times in a row and was made captain at City. He was selected as part of the PFA Team of the Year while at Aston Villa.
8. Shay Given
Shay Given was rated as one of the best keepers in the world. At Newcastle, he won a place in the 2001/2002 team of the year, as well as the 2005/2006 team of the year. Given moved to Manchester City in 2009, but with Joe Hart on the rise as a real talent, it wasn’t his best idea. Given still deserves top-flight football and would be a fine buy for Arsenal, United or Liverpool, who may all be looking for goalkeepers at the end of the year.
9. Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane is widely loved in Ireland and is their all-time leading goalscorer with 45 goals in his 104 caps. He has played for Wolves, Coventry, Inter Milan, Leeds United, Spurs, Liverpool, Celtic, and West Ham. Keane is a proven goalscorer and was made a fool of by the evil Rafa Benitez when he brought him to Liverpool for three months, before sending him back to Spurs.
10. Roy Keane
Roy Keane is an absolutely quality midfielder who dominated the midfield of Manchester United from 1997 to 2005. He protected his teammates like a lioness defends her cubs and won the Premier League seven times, the FA Cup four times, the Community Shield four times, the Champions League on one occasion, and the Intercontinental Cup once. He also won the Scottish domestic double in 2006 with Celtic and won countless individual awards.
These ten players have contributed greatly to the Irish Premier Division and have left a lasting impact on the league. They have all had successful careers, both domestically and internationally, and will always be remembered as some of the greatest footballers Ireland has ever produced. Their talents have brought joy and excitement to football fans around the world, and they will forever be remembered as legends of the game.