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#PL1000: Who is our greatest Premier League player?

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Manchester United’s 1-0 victory over Watford last weekend represented the 1,000th Premier League game in the club’s illustrious history.

Marcus Rashford’s first-half winner against the Hornets at Old Trafford on Sunday gave the Reds a 629th victory since the competition’s inception in 1992/93. We have also drawn 215 and lost 156 games.

To commemorate the landmark, the club has run a special series of polls to ask supporters to vote for their favourite United moments from the last 26 years of Premier League action in five categories: your Best Goal, Best Game, Best Save, Best Player and finally, the Greatest XI, enabling you to pick an ultimate line-up from the entire era.

By voting, you'll be rewarded with free entry into a draw to win some amazing prizes, including the signed match ball from the 1,000th game and a signed match-worn shirt!

But time is running out for you to have your say, as voting closes at midnight tonight (Tuesday), so don’t delay!

#PL1000: Which is our greatest save?Video

#PL1000: Vote for our greatest gameVideo

#PL1000: The top 10 United goalsVideo

WHO IS UNITED’S BEST PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER?

We know – it’s a tough one! It’s the ultimate question that is difficult to answer definitively, as many special players who have represented the Reds over the years could merit the status of our greatest star in their own right.

From the goalkeeping heroics of Peter Schmeichel and midfield maestro Paul Scholes to the flair of Cristiano Ronaldo and goalscoring exploits of Wayne Rooney, the Reds have been blessed with countless legends all over the pitch who have graced the Premier League stage and given us all so many memories to cherish.

You could argue a genuine case for hundreds upon hundreds of United players who have made their mark in the Premier League era. We had the challenge of putting together a shortlist of just 10 contenders and here are the nominees…

David De Gea
Peter Schmeichel
Rio Ferdinand
Paul Scholes
Roy Keane
David Beckham
Ryan Giggs
Cristiano Ronaldo
Eric Cantona
Wayne Rooney

Our reporters have picked out who they are voting for and why – do you agree?

CRISTIANO RONALDO

Mark Froggatt makes the case for the Portuguese superstar…

Why him? I could throw numerous stats at you, referencing his goals-to-game ratio and highlighting his unfathomable consistency, but numbers do not justify Ronny’s genius. That cannot be quantified and watching him in the flesh was perhaps my greatest thrill of the Premier League era, aside from all the trophies of course. No other player has been such an attraction in our galaxy of stars, particularly in his latter three seasons when he regularly made the impossible possible. The shame was that his potential was perhaps not realised in red, yet he still remains my no.1 from these 1,000 games.

Favourite moment: I love the arc of Ronaldo’s story, rising from raw prospect to polished megastar. The turning point was arguably that mazy solo run and finish at Fulham’s Craven Cottage in February 2007.

In a word: Unprecedented.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 appearances in six hugely successful years at Old Trafford.

RYAN GIGGS

Adam Higgins on why the irrepressible Welshman deserves the status of our greatest PL player…

Why him: He’s the most decorated United player in Premier League history, racking up 632 appearances, scoring 109 goals and registering 162 assists. The Welsh wing wizard, who captained the team under Sir Alex Ferguson on many occasions, helped the Reds win 13 titles and was the only player to net in the first 22 seasons since the competition’s inception in 1992/93. A definitive icon, the evergreen midfielder was ever-present during one of the club’s most successful eras and left behind an incredible legacy when he retired in 2014.  

Favourite moment: When Giggs sealed his 10th Premier League title in 2008 by scoring the Reds’ second goal in the decisive 2-0 win at Wigan on the final day, on the day he equalled Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 758 games, before lifting the trophy. 

In a word: Legend.

Ryan Giggs with the Premier League trophy in 2008.
Giggs is the only player to have played in each of the first 22 seasons in the Premier League.

ERIC CANTONA

Joe Ganley runs the rule over ‘The King’…

Why him: The greatest players not only deliver individually, but also bring the best out of those around them. When Eric joined in November ’92, United were sixth in the table, had not won a title for 25 years, and could barely buy a goal. Cantona’s arrival changed all of that in a heartbeat. His flair, poise and barrel-chested surety fired us to four of the next five championships, two Doubles, and laid the foundations for a period of unprecedented success that was marbled with his influence. Eric didn’t score as many goals as Ronaldo; didn’t play as long as Giggs. But no other player can match the singular weight of his impact.

Favourite moment: A Red once told me that selecting a favourite Cantona moment was “like choosing a favourite Beatles song”, because Eric’s goals were always so beautiful. But check out his second in the 3-2 win against Man City at Maine Road in ’93, and you'll see a player directing the whole scope of his team’s football.

In a word: Catalyst.

Eric Cantona celebrates a goal for United.
Cantona netted 82 goals in 185 appearances for the Reds, during his four-year stay at Old Trafford.

ROY KEANE

Adam Marshall puts his argument forward for our no-nonsense former captain…

Why him: A ferocious and fearless inspiration in the middle of the park, he essentially took over the mantle of legendary skipper Bryan Robson and grew to become just as big an influence as the famous former England captain. Not only was Keane a world-class talent, even after a cruciate-ligament injury, but he demanded others around him upped their game too. The Irishman set the tone and would never allow standards to drop, mirroring his manager Sir Alex's insatiable desire for success. He was the talisman in a fabulous team.

Favourite moment: Taking time to break off hostilities with Patrick Vieira to storm through and grab the winner with his second goal of the game late on at Arsenal at the start of the 1999/2000 season. Giggs robbed Ray Parlour and, when the shot was deflected into Keane’s path, he took it on his chest and nonchalantly nudged it past Alex Manninger to settle the stormiest of encounters.

In a word: Leader.

 
PAUL SCHOLES

Adam Bostock explains why he feels Scholesy is the best United player of the Premier League era…

Why him: Simple. When Paul played, United played. If Keane was the heartbeat in Sir Alex's greatest engine room, then Scholes was the head boy when it came to crafting attacks and dismantling opposition defences with his deadly eye for a killer pass. Chiefly an orchestrator in his latter, deep-lying campaigns, his ton-plus tally in the top flight tells you he was as adept at finishing moves as he was at starting them when he first burst onto the scene with a double on his league debut at Ipswich.
 
Favourite moment: Tempting as it is to pick one of his hallmark howitzers like Bradford, Boro or Villa away, a much less typical goal is the one that stirred the strongest emotions. So strong, in fact, that Scholes was the recipient of an appreciative smooch from grateful team-mate Gary Neville. Yes, it’s that bullet header to beat the Blues in their own backyard, in the April 2010 derby’s dying seconds.
 
In a word: Maestro.
Paul Scholes celebrates his 100th Premier League goal for United against Wolves in 2010.
Scholes has been a mainstay for the Reds in the Premier League era during two spells at the club.

PETER SCHMEICHEL

James Tuck makes his case for the great Dane…

Why him: The calibre of the man between the sticks is fundamental to the success of any team and, in Schmeichel, we had (in my opinion) the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game. Just remember how intimidatingly amazing he was: plucking crosses out of air like cherries, star-jump saves, raking long throws, barking at Bruce and Pally… the list goes on. The imposing Dane’s brilliance in one-on-one situations single-handedly preserved countless points for us during his eight seasons at United.

Favourite moment: So many to pick from, but I’m going back to the 31st of his 252 Premier League appearances and a scarcely believable reaction stop from Liverpool’s Don Hutchison. The fact it was in front of the Kop made it all the sweeter.

In a word: Colossus.

Select your star man by visiting www.manutd.com/PL1000, where you have until midnight tonight to cast your vote. Happy voting!