Fulham’s greatest Premier League XI
There have been plenty of London-based teams to feature in the Premier League but few have had quite as mixed fortunes than Fulham. The Cottagers have enjoyed multiple spells in the top flight since they were first promoted in 2001 to mixed success. They did enjoy a 13-year spell in the Premier League from 2001-2014 resulting in a highest finish of 7th. Since then, the club have bounced between divisions without fully cementing their spot for good in the Premier League. This fluctuation in status has seen players come and go – including some famous names who went on to enjoy prolonged success in the top flight. But who would make Fulham’s top XI?
GK: Edwin Van Der Sar
Edwin Van Der Sar proved to be a real shock for fans at Craven Cottage. The Dutch shot-stopper joined the club from Juventus in 2001 at the top of his game just after the side gained promotion for the first time. Van Der Sar quickly proved he belonged in the top flight where he regularly kept clean sheets for the side over the next four seasons. His best form arguably came in the 2003/04 season where he featured in every game of the season and was named the club’s Player of the Season. After one more season, Van Der Sar left to join Manchester United bringing his memorable time in London to a close.
RB: Moritz Volz
There were fewer players who enjoyed fan worship at Fulham quite like Moritz Volz. The German joined the club in 2004 having failed to break the mould with Arsenal. However, his move to Fulham was a blessing. It was here where he showed his drive, endless energy and commitment that made him a regular starter for The Cottagers. He was a mainstay at the club for 5 seasons and won Fulham’s Player of the Month award in 2007. After falling out of favour in 2009, Volz left the club to join FC St Pauli in Germany ending his English football adventure.
LB: Aaron Hughes
A player who could be deployed anywhere in defence, Aaron Hughes never failed to deliver. The Northern Ireland international was excellent in the air and on the ball helping out in almost any area of the pitch. He was also extremely cool under pressure going his entire Premier League career without being sent off – the second best record in Premier League history. Hughes would make 196 appearances for Fulham before moving to QPR in 2013.
CB: Brede Hangeland
When he was on the pitch, few players could outmuscle Brede Hangeland. The powerful Norwegian centre-back was a colossus on the pitch and was nigh-on unbeatable in the air. This made him a threat at set-pieces and his excellent football brain also made him strong at tackling and shutting down opposition moves. Hangeland shone for Fulham for over 200 games and even scored 6 goals in the 2010-11 season showcasing his presence at both ends of the pitch. His ability to deliver time and time again was something that made him a favourite with fans at the club for the 6 seasons he spent at Craven Cottage.
CB: Carlos Bocanegra
Fewer players had a tenacity quite like Carlos Bocanegra. The American defender was never one to give up a battle and his tackling and pace meant he could keep up with any player he was in a battle with. It was why he was a valued leader in the club’s ranks and was captain for the club during his final season in London over the 2007/08 campaign. His consistent efforts on the pitch caught eyes from overseas clubs and it was in 2008 that Bocanegra left England to join Rennes in France and begin the next chapter of his career.
CM: Luis Boa Morte
Even though Luis Boa Morte had already won the Premier League with Arsenal before joining Fulham in 2000, it was at Craven Cottage where he came into his own. Deployed as a driven attacking midfielder, Boa Morte often used his pace and creative eye to set-up attacks and finish them with ease. This included seeing him score 9 goals in the 2003/04 season in his best ever tally in the Premier League. His efforts in the 2004/05 season saw him named club Player of the Year in 2005 underlining his value to the club. After several more seasons, Boa Morte left the club in 2007 to join West Ham.
CM: Danny Murphy
When Danny Murphy joined Fulham in 2007, fans jumped to see the explosive midfielder in action for the club. Known for his driving runs and ability to find space, Murphy was always looking to put opposition defences under pressure. He proved his worth scoring 5 goals in each of his first three seasons and helped them stay out of the relegation zone on multiple occasions. Having scored 16 goals in five seasons at Craven Cottage, Murphy made enough of an impact for the club to still remember him fondly to this present day.
CM: Steed Malbranque
There were fewer players who made such an impact for Fulham in their early Premier League years than Steed Malbranque. The Frenchman was excellent on the ball and could make exquisite passes on a whim to change the tide of a game. Malbranque was also an excellent set-piece taker and could strike stunning free kicks from any distance or angle. It was why he notched up 32 goals for the club including 8 in his debut season during the 2001-02 campaign. After regularly proving his worth in the top flight, Malbranque left for Tottenham in 2006 to pursue European football.
FW: Louis Saha
Louis Saha was one of the few players Fulham brought up to the top flight with them that was ready for the big-time. The French striker had pace and an eye for goal that delivered any time he went near the final third. It was why his goals helped Fulham survive relegation and then transition into a mid-table side. This was proven in the 2003-04 season where he scored 13 goals in 21 games proving himself to become one of the in-demand strikers in the league. It was why Saha eventually moved to Old Trafford in 2004 having caught the eyes of Manchester United who signed him as a replacement for the departing Dwight Yorke.
FW: Bobby Zamora
Capable of holding his own as a singular striker upfront, Bobby Zamora was always capable of striking when it mattered most. His pace and size made him able to take on physical defenders without any problem and beat them to get clean through on goal. Zamora’s best form for Fulham came in the 2009-10 season where he netted 8 goals in 27 games to help them finish in the top ten. It was why Zamora was also drafted into the England setup for the first time in his career. It underlined his ability to function at the highest level for both club and country.
FW: Clint Dempsey
America has often produced underrated superstars in football and no-one epitomizes that more than Clint Dempsey. Dempsey’s drive and skills on the ball made him a real handful in the box for opponents to deal with. Dempsey was also a clean striker of the ball which made him a reliable set-piece take – at both free kicks and penalties. His best form came in the 2011-12 season where he scored 17 goals in 31 games – a career-best for Dempsey in any league he played in. It was why Dempsey won 2 Player of the Year awards for the club and is their highest scorer in Premier League history.