It was Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, so what better time to uncover the unsung heroes that only supporters of your club actually care about.
Here’s who our fan community chose:
Charlene Smith, AFTV
Mikel Arteta is proving to be our cult hero this season with the progress we have made in such a short space of time. From being in relegation form last season, to now consistently sitting at the top of the Premier League table with intentions on winning the league after 19 years.
Richard Sutherland, The Villa Park Podcast
Banished to the bomb squad, sent on loan three times. Alan Hutton later regained the love of the Villa faithful with his all-action displays. His crowning moment was a goal to seal victory in the second city derby against Birmingham City in November 2018, which will mean the ‘Scottish Cafu’ will forever be embedded in Villa folklore.
Sam Davis, Back of the Net
Brett Pitman is a cult hero for many a Cherry and integral to our rise through the divisions. His running style was unorthodox, he was not the fastest, but his eye for goal was unquestionable, with many Bournemouth fans labelling him as the most natural finisher at the club.
Ian Westbrook, Beesotted
Bob Booker is Brentford’s ultimate cult hero. Never the star player, Bob won over an at-first sceptical crowd with a hat-trick against Hull and hard work and commitment in every game. Over the years he played in every position except goalkeeper, and even returned for a second spell after a stint at Sheffield United.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Stuart Matthews, Proud Seagulls
It can only be Peter Ward, one of our most prolific goalscorers and winner of our golden boot in the 1976-77 season. He was sheer brilliance on the pitch. He lives in America but does come back every now and then and is very warmly received.
Ross Mooring, Chelsea Fancast
Branislav Ivanovic won a Champions League and three Premier League titles during his decade at Stamford Bridge. He was famous for roaring up and down the pitch from right-back and wreaking havoc in opposition penalty areas while scoring 34 goals across 377 appearances. ‘Branna’ was a firm fan favourite and a key cog in multiple title-winning sides.
Jay Crame, The Eagles Beak
We have been lucky to have many cult heroes but I’m going for Finland midfielder Aki Riihilahti.
His personality and character gave him connection with the fans and, while not the most skilful, his passion, heart and fight more than made up for it. He scored the odd goal too.
Briony Bragg, This Fan Girl
Tony Hibbert. It is impossible to imagine him in anything other than an Everton shirt. A pitch invasion was a fitting tribute when he scored his first goal in his own testimonial against AEK Athens in 2012. ‘If Hibbo scores we riot’ indeed.
Some 328 career appearances, one goal. Cult hero status.
Dan Crawford, Hammy End
Rod McAree only played 30 games for the Whites, but everyone remembers when he put the ball in the back of the Carlisle net. McAree was not expecting to play at Brunton Park in April 1997, but Micky Adams picked him and his sweet strike sealed a famous victory that sparked Fulham’s remarkable rise.
Jess Furness, Her Game Too
Pablo ‘El Mago’ Hernandez.
He never failed to give us his all, and his all was something truly magical. Pablo fully understood what it meant to be Leeds and I believe our relationship as a fanbase with him was something very special. His legacy at Leeds will not ever be forgotten.
Sam Holloway, LeicesterFanTV
Many fans of other clubs would not realise how good Marc Albrighton was in our ‘Golden Generation’. He always put in a 7/10 shift and a lot of Leicester supporters would call him ‘Mr Consistent’.
Harriet Prior, The Anfield Wrap
Always turning up for the big moments, is there any answer other than Divock Origi?
From scoring in the dying moments against Everton to guaranteeing Liverpool’s sixth European Cup, letting him go last summer was heartbreaking. Despite never being a regular starter, his name is etched in Liverpool’s history.
Ger Deegan, Maine Road Ramble
Pablo Zabaleta has got to be up there in terms of supporters’ biggest cult hero. He just got it. He got the club from day one and connected with fans from the moment he set foot on the pitch. He is adored at City.
Semi-final v United, Roma away, QPR at home – he was there. City fans will never forget that.
Alex Turk, Stretford Paddock
Not many have earned United club hero status more than John O’Shea.
Despite rarely being remembered among the club’s great defenders, he made 394 appearances across the back line and in midfield.
Under Sir Alex Ferguson, O’Shea won everything in just less than 12 years after graduating from the academy.
Pete Davey, LoadedMag NUFC
He may not be everyone’s cult hero but he is certainly mine, the French magician with a wand of a left foot – Laurent Robert.
A truly special player who could be capable of producing anything on his day, a 30-yard stunner or skills to make you go “wow”.
The overhead backheel kick against Fulham and two incredible goals against Spurs at St James’ Park will live long in the memory.
Ben Dore, Dore On Tour
My biggest cult hero is one of our own. Ryan Yates always gives his effort on the pitch and off it. He never lets the club down and in the past 18 months he has been one of the top players. He always gets stuck into midfield and even got a black eye to show for it. This player is getting better each game.
Ray Hunt, In That Number
Franny Benali was born and bred in Southampton and played more than 300 times for his beloved team. He is perhaps more treasured for his work post-retirement, raising more than £1m for Cancer Research UK. He is a winner of multiple awards including the Freedom of the City and has been appointed an MBE. He is a true cult hero.
John Wenham, Lilywhite Rose
Nourredine Naybet. The cultured defender joined at 34 on a free transfer and brought instant improvement. He was a key part of Spurs moving from finishing 11th each season into a member of the Premier League’s big six. He teamed up with Ledley King who namechecked him as instrumental in his own development into a top-class centre-back.
West Ham United
Mia Claydon, Green Street Hammers
Paolo di Canio is truly loved by us. He still talks about the immense love he has for the club, the city, and the fans. His passion and love for our club is rarely replicated by players in this era.
Dazzling Dave, Always Wolves Fan TV
I have picked John de Wolf and with a name like that, who else could he have played for? De Wolf looked more like a rock star than a defender with his long, flaming mane. He will be forever remembered for his hat-trick against Port Vale in 1995 – the first Wolves defender to score one since 1902!