Wednesday 25 April 2012

20 Seasons Awards: The Best Team contenders

Representatives from the five nominated Best Teams explain what made them so great

The five Barclays Premier League winners up for Best Team in the 20 Seasons Awards

To help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Premier League, a panel of leading football figures, journalists and commentators will choose the Best Team in its history for the 20 Seasons Awards.

Blackburn Rovers (1994/95), Manchester United (1998/99), Arsenal (2003/04), Chelsea (2004/05) and Man Utd (2007/08) have all made the shortlist for this very special award.

One of the protagonists from each of these teams reveals what made their side so special.

Find out how these teams won the Premier League by clicking here.

BLACKBURN ROVERS 1994/95 - Alan Shearer

"I think in our first season after winning promotion to the Premier League in 1992/93 we finished fourth, then second the year after, then won it, so it was a progression for us.

"Coming up from the old Division Two to start in the very first season of the Premier League was a big thing for us and before too long we were taking everyone on.

"Little old Blackburn taking on the mightiest teams in the country - it was incredible"
- Alan Shearer

"We didn't have the greatest team in the world, but I think what we were better at than anyone else was that we had a great team spirit and that got us over the line in the end.

"They were really great times. Little old Blackburn coming along and taking on the might of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea - it was an incredible achievement to win the Premier League.

"Kenny Dalglish got the best out of all of his players and we were lucky enough to taste the glory of winning the title, which not many teams have done.

"It was a great time for me as a footballer and I look back with great memories of that team."

FINAL 1994/95 PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE

MANCHESTER UNITED 1998/99 - David May

"We were together as a group from the start and had a brilliant team bond, and that's important because in a long, hard season it can get tiresome occasionally, but we carried each other on to the end.

"We ended up winning the Treble that season, but there was never a time when we thought about trophies, you can't afford to do that.

"In the end our entire season rested on the last three matches"
- David May

"We took it stage by stage, game by game, and in the end our entire season hinged on the last three matches - Spurs in the Premier League, Newcastle in the FA Cup and Bayern Munich in the Champions League - which is crazy.

"We'd won the League on the last day of the season in 1996, so some of the players had experience of doing it, and although it's big pressure it is the pressure you want to be under as a player.

"There was a great blend of players who had won things before and those still young and hungry enough to win things and that blend is important.

"The match I look back on most fondly is beating Spurs to win the Premier League. We went 1-0 down and missed chance after chance, but David Beckham scored just before half-time and Andy Cole won it and everyone knows what we went on to achieve after that."

FINAL 1998/99 PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE

ARSENAL 2003/04 - Sol Campbell

"It was a very special time because a lot of things have to come together at the right moment.

"Arsenal had a few players who were already there and Arsene Wenger brought in a number of new ones to get this team together, and a lot of things happened for it to click.

"It chooses you; you don't choose to go a whole season unbeaten"
- Sol Campbell

"Everyone has to have a talent and the desire to play football, but, you know, when you go a whole season without losing a game you have to have the right ingredients.

"Lots of things came together: players, fitness, luck, rub of the green... however you want to put it. It kind of chooses you; you don't choose to go the whole season unbeaten.

"You can't start off by having it as an aim, it doesn't work like that.

"But it's fabulous to be involved because I was surrounded by fantastic players and my game went on to another level. Being a footballer is all about realising your potential and sometimes even beyond."

FINAL 2003/04 PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE

CHELSEA 2004/05 - Frank Lampard

"We had a very, very strong team at that time - just look at the depth of the squad.

"Even though Chelsea hadn't won it before, we won the Premier League pretty comfortably in the end, finishing 12 points ahead of Arsenal and winning 29 of our 38 games.

"We were fresh and very hungry to win it - we created history for Chelsea"
- Frank Lampard

"We were a new team under Jose Mourinho; we were fresh, very hungry to win it and had a fantastic manager which obviously helped.

"Jose is the best manager I've been fortunate to play under - he's brilliant, a real man-manager, and he made us believe we could win the League that season.

"We created a big thing for Chelsea as a football club because we hadn't won the title for 50 years, so that was a very important moment for the club and for us as a team.

"In terms of the Premier League's 20 Seasons, there have been so many strong teams, it would be hard to pick only one."

FINAL 2004/05 PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE

MANCHESTER UNITED 2007/08 - Cristiano Ronaldo

[Speaking in 2008] "The feeling is great because we worked for nine months to win the title. I feel very proud, very happy, everything. The pressure was high but we believed in ourselves and we deserve to win the title, definitely.

"It is a team effort and I think we deserved it because we were the best team in the Premier League. Sometimes you don't have the words to say what it feels like to be a champion.

"To be honest, we did not expect it to go down to the final day"
- Cristiano Ronaldo

"It's amazing. I would have preferred to have won it at Old Trafford because the atmosphere would have been brilliant, but it's very good to be champions anyway.

"To be honest, we did not expect it to go right down to the final day. The feeling is better though; it was a tough Premier League but when the referee finished the game [against Wigan on the final day] and you can say 'we are champions now' the feeling is great.

"As for me, I think I've not just improved this season; I try to improve every year. I'm better now than five years ago.

"I think at the right club, playing with the right players, you learn all the time.

"This season has been good for me because I've scored many goals and the team have played fantastically to win the Premier League."

FINAL 2004/05 PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE

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Key Points

  • Premier League is celebrating 20 Seasons
  • Awards for the greatest stars and best moments in Premier League history
  • An expert panel will decide on the Best Team