The Premier League, widely considered the greatest football league on earth, has seen many memorable superstars come and go over its history. Some dominated for an extended period while others briefly left an impactful mark. We will highlight six notable one-season wonders from Premier League history here.
Michu had an outstanding 2012/13 campaign with Swansea City. The Spanish sensation scored 18 Premier League goals, including memorable strikes against top clubs. His astonishing success led Sir Alex Ferguson to admit he’d never heard of Michu, who cost Swansea a mere £2 million. Sadly, persistent ankle injuries derailed his career, ultimately ending in the Spanish third division.
Benjani’s journey from obscurity to Premier League folklore is unique. In his second season, the Zimbabwean striker scored twelve goals for Portsmouth, including two remarkable hat-tricks. His flamboyant celebrations endeared him to fans. Manchester City couldn’t resist his allure, but Benjani’s first season for them yielded just four goals. Despite his brief moment of glory, Benjani remains a cherished memory for football enthusiasts.
Roque Santa Cruz
Roque Santa Cruz’s arrival in the Premier League was surprising, given his modest goal-scoring record in the Bundesliga. However, his exceptional debut season with Blackburn Rovers saw him net 19 goals, justifying the £3.5 million investment. Unfortunately, Santa Cruz’s subsequent seasons failed to match his initial success, and he moved to Manchester City, where he struggled to secure a regular spot. Ultimately, Santa Cruz returned to his usual output, illustrating the law of averages.
Robinho’s signing marked the dawn of Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi ownership, and his debut season in 2008/09 was electrifying. He scored 14 goals, making the £32 million spent on him seem like a bargain. However, off-field issues and a loss of form haunted him in the next season. By January, he was loaned back to Santos, and his career never reached the heights of his initial Premier League campaign.
Asamoah Gyan’s story differs from others on this list because we never got to see a second season from him. After a stellar World Cup with Ghana, he joined Sunderland for a club-record fee. Gyan was an instant hit, scoring eleven goals in all competitions during his first season. His reputation earned him a lucrative move to Al Ahli, leaving fans with just one exceptional season to remember him in the Premier League.
Amr Zaki, dubbed “the Bulldozer,” arrived at Wigan Athletic from Egyptian side Zamalek for a modest fee. During the 2008/09 season, he had a purple patch, scoring seven goals in eight games, including a memorable volley against Liverpool. However, his inconsistent attitude, including frequent tardiness, tested the patience of his managers. After a brief loan spell at Hull City, Zaki’s career stalled, and he retired in 2015.
Being a Premier League player is challenging, and sustaining a purple patch for an entire season is a rare feat. For these one-season wonders, injuries and luck played a role in their inconsistency. Yet their contributions remain embedded in Premier League folklore, serving as reminders of its unpredictability and the transience of footballing success. If you believe any other players should feature here, feel free to share your opinions in the comments below.