With the Republic of Ireland just two matches away from only their third ever World Cup appearance, it would be fitting to take a look at both the past and present greatest bunch of Irish imports that have made their mark in the greatest league in the world.

Sport.co.uk takes a look at the top ten Irish players to grace the Premier League…

1. Roy Keane

Keane’s appetite for the sport, his success and his commitment in every match has deservedly cemented the current Ipswich manager as the greatest Premier League Irish import thanks to his outstanding career with Manchester United.

After a successful start at Nottingham Forest, Keane turned down a move to Blackburn and instead joined Manchester United where he went on to become the captain of a side that achieved all that Liverpool did in the 1980’s and won every domestic trophy available to him.

2. Robbie KeaneIreland+v+Georgia+FIFA2010+World+Cup+Qualifier+0suzLZ1gN6Kl

Robbie Keane started his Premier League playing career when he signed for Coventry City at the tender age of 17 for reported fee of £6.5m and has gone on to become one of the league’s most naturally gifted finishers.

His skill, goals and overall attitude to the game have seen him rise to fame both in England and in Ireland where he is now captain of an Irish side hoping to earn a place at next year’s World Cup which deservedly given Keane a reputation as one of the greatest ever Premier League strikers.

3. Shay Given

It’s fair to say that Shay Given has been the number one goalkeeper in the Premier League for a large number of years now and had he won medals with former club Newcastle, Given would have came in second behind Roy Keane in this list.

The Irish number one had a difficult time at Newcastle, yet showed his faith by sticking with the club for a number of years, but now the 33-year-old will be hoping for some immediate success with new club Manchester City will take comfort in knowing they now have the safest hands in the Premier League.

4. Paul McGrath

Back in his peak with Aston Villa, Paul McGrath was one of, if not the greatest Irish player to grace the early stages of the Premier League, winning the League Cup twice with Aston Villa, the FA Cup with Manchester United back in 1985 and the PFA Player of the Year Award in 1993.

The man simply known as ‘God’ by the Aston Villa faithful did have his problems which included a difficult battle against alcohol and injuries which eventually got the better of McGrath in his final Premier League season with Derby County, although the centre-half did have a late spell with Sheffield United.

5. Steve Staunton

Steve Staunton can be described as one of the greatest left-backs the Premier League has seen playing for both Liverpool and Aston Villa as well as appearing at two World Cups and becoming Irelands most capped international player.

‘Stan’, as he is better known on the football world, was an important member of an Aston Villa side who finished runners-up behind Manchester United in the first Premier League season and excelled on two separate spells with Merseyside giants Liverpool.

6. Niall Quinn

It seems Niall Quinn’s early decision to choose English Football over Irish Hurling in his home country has finally paid off because after an uneventful start in the capital with Arsenal, the striker was able to make a name for himself at both Manchester City and Sunderland.

He will always be remembered fondly for his partnership with Kevin Phillips will always as his target man will always be remember fondly but Quinn’s own ability in front of goal was realised when he became Ireland’s all time top goal scorer during the 2002 World Cup qualification process.

7. Damien Duff

5605661In his prime Damien Duff was without doubt one of the most dangerous left-wingers in the Premier League. His pace, skill and cultured left foot scared the life out of opposing defenders and the Irishman has always had an eye for goal too.

He first caught the eye at Blackburn where his consistent form and goals secured him a big-money move to Chelsea where he won the Premier League title and League cup. His career has been plagued by injury since his move to Newcastle but a move to Fulham could turn things around as he enters the latter stages of his career.

8. Dennis Irwin

Dennis Irwin joined Manchester United at the start of their success story in the 1990’s and proved to be a key player at either right-back or left back, going on to win most notably a staggering seven Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the Champions League in 1999.

The Cork man left his beloved Manchester United in 2002 and moved to Division one side Wolverhampton Wanderers where he helped the Midlands club to promotion to the top flight, but was unable to secure their survival the following season and retired from the sport aged 38.

9. Richard Dunne

Dunne made his Premier League debut for Everton at just and after making 60 appearances earned himself a £3m move to Manchester City which is where the central defender really came of age by securing the clubs Player of the Season Award a record four times.

Manchester City’s recent takeover saw Dunne frozen out by manager Mark Hughes but the Irishman was saved by Aston Villa where he will be hoping to help break the club into the Premier Leagues top four. Dunne has gone on to represent his country 56 times, scoring seven goals.

10. Stephen Ireland

This is a cause for controversy because of his age and his fallout with the Irish nation team; I feel Stephen Ireland at least deserves to be in the countdown simply because of his football ability and the fact that he is the most naturally gifted player to come from the Emerald shores since Robbie Keane.

The Manchester City man has all the required skills to play at the very top level and although he has yet to win a trophy with the Manchester club, surely it is only a matter of time before he does if not with City, then for another top Premier League outfit.



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