Some of the greatest footballers of all-time have played in the Premier League. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry and Steven Gerrard have all thrived on the big stage.
The players on this list do not fall into that bracket but all 10 enjoyed a high level of success in England’s top flight for a short period of time.
Greatest One Season Wonders:
Michu (Swansea City, 2012/13)
Robinho (Manchester City, 2008/09)
Marcus Stewart (Ipswich Town, 2000/01)
Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn Rovers, 2007/08)
Amr Zaki (Wigan Athletic, 2008/09)
Andy Johnson (Crystal Palace, 2004/05)
Michael Ricketts (Bolton Wanderers, 2001/02)
Asamoah Gyan (Sunderland, 2010/11)
Benjani (Portsmouth, 2007/08)
Nikica Jelavic (Everton, 2011/12)
The obvious one is Michu. He was unplayable at times during his debut season at Swansea City but he failed to repeat those 2012/13 goal scoring exploits the following year.
However, there are plenty of contenders to rival his standing as the best one season wonder in Premier League history. So, here are our rankings…
10) Nikica Jelavic
Okay, so this is more of a half season wonder but Jelavic deserves a spot on this list for his impact in his maiden campaign at Goodison Park.
Having paid £5.5 million for the Croatian, Everton were expecting big things from Jelavic and he immediately hit the ground running, scoring nine goals in 13 Premier League games.
Despite adding two FA Cup goals in only three appearances, Jelavic returned the following campaign and something was different. He just wasn’t the same player anymore.
Jelavic scored a combined 15 goals in 69 appearances over the next two seasons before the Croatia international departed for Hull City.
Benjani took a while to hit his stride but the Zimbabwean took the Premier League by storm in 2007/08, scoring an incredible 12 goals in just 23 appearances.
That campaign was enough to earn Benjani a move to Manchester City though he struggled to make an impact at the Etihad Stadium and soon found himself in and out of the team.
In fact, Benjani scored just seven more Premier League goals in the five seasons following his breakout campaign – which shows just how wonderful that one season was.
According to former Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp, Benjani didn’t even want to join Man City. That would at least explain the reason for Benjani’s poor performances…
8) Asamoah Gyan
Gyan was one of the stars of the 2010 World Cup, notching three goals for his native Ghana before crashing out on penalties in the quarter-finals.
However, his performances in South Africa earned him a move to Sunderland – reportedly for a club record fee of around £13 million.
In his debut season, Gyan continued his fine run of form. The Ghana star notched 10 goals while providing four assists in 34 games to become an instant hit at the Stadium of Light.
Bizarrely, Gyan decided to leave at the end of his first season in the Premier League and so we will never know whether he could have replicated that impressive return.
7) Michael Ricketts
Ricketts was pivotal in Bolton’s promotion to the Premier League, having scored a number of important goals en route to the playoff final.
In fact, his impact was so great that he was called up to the England squad for a friendly against the Netherlands in 2002 though his form had taken a turn for the worse.
While Ricketts managed 12 Premier League goals that season, the last of those goals came in January and his confidence was shattered by the end of the campaign.
Many believed that a switch to Middlesbrough in 2003 could reignite his career but those hopes were dashed and Ricketts became just another Football League journeyman.
6) Andy Johnson
Johnson netted a sensational 21 goals in the 2004/05 Premier League campaign, with only a certain Thierry Henry scoring more over the course of the season.
Plying his trade for Crystal Palace, his goal scoring exploits were all the more impressive as the Eagles were hardly what you’d call top four betting favourites.
Throwback to some of Andy Johnson's best moments in a Crystal Palace shirt.— HLTCO (@HLTCO) July 27, 2017
He's got a magic hat, you know...pic.twitter.com/BbiBxU4FPY
After a very brief spell in the England squad, Johnson earned himself a move to Everton but it didn’t really work out for him at Goodison Park.
If you were being critical, 11 of Johnson’s 21 goals in that epic season were penalties but it would be harsh to rank him any lower on this list of the Premier League’s best one season wonders.
5) Amr Zaki
Like Jelavic, Zaki is another who should probably rank in the ‘half season wonder’ category. But, such was his impact on the premier League, we’re going with the Egypt forward at number five.
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan instantly got carried away and compared Zaki to the Premier League all-time record goal scorer Alan Shearer. That was the start of his downfall.
Zaki scored 11 goals before the end of 2008, including a sensational striker against Liverpool that wouldn’t look out of place on a list of the best ever Premier League goals.
However, he failed to score in the second half of the campaign before the Egyptian was sent out on loan to Hull City.
4) Roque Santa Cruz
When Santa Cruz joined Blackburn Rovers from Bayern Munich in the summer of 2007, nobody expected the Paraguayan to set the world on fire.
However, expectations quickly changed as he notched 23 goals in all competitions in his debut season, including 19 in the Premier League.
Santa Cruz scored just four league goals the following season but that didn’t stop the big-spending Manchester City from splashing out an estimated £17.5 million on him.
After managing just three goals in 20 Premier League appearances over two years at the club, Santa Cruz found himself out on loan before joining Malaga in 2013.
3) Marcus Stewart
Stewart was outstanding for Ipswich in 2000/01, notching an incredible 19 Premier League goals – only Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink managed more that season.
In fact, Stewart’s goals helped the Tractor Boys qualify for the UEFA Cup in their first season since securing promotion back to the Premier League.
Ipswich were relegated the following campaign but Stewart moved to Sunderland in a bid to preserve his top flight career.
Unfortunately for him, he failed to inspire confidence at the Stadium of Light and the Black Cats were also relegated. Stewart never played in the Premier League again.
Manchester City sent shockwaves across Europe when they announced the signing of Robinho from Real Madrid for a British record transfer fee of £32.5 million.
In his debut season, Robinho was outstanding. The Brazilian was at the heart of City’s early progress and he finished the 2008/09 season as the club’s top scorer in all competitions.
Unfortunately, he failed to find the net in the whole of his second season at the Etihad Stadium and featured just 10 times. That would signal the end of his time at the club.
Nowadays, Robinho are challenging at the summit of Premier League Odds odds. It would have been interesting to see whether the Brazilian would shine in this City side…
And now for the man who needs no introduction: Michu is undoubtedly the Premier League’s ultimate one season wonder.
Having joined Swansea for just £2 million, Michu exceeded all expectations at the Liberty Stadium during his first campaign in the Premier League.
The former Rayo Vallecano striker picked up where he left off in La Liga, notching 18 goals in 35 matches whilst earning a call up to the Spain national team.
Unfortunately, Michu suffered a number of injury problems in his second season and could only manage two goals in 17 games before signing with Serie A giants Napoli.
*Credit for the main photo belongs to Alastair Grant / AP Photo*
FIRST PUBLISHED: 17th August 2020