Across the long history of English football, there has been an influx of Scottish players into the top division. The best Scots look to challenge themselves in what most people acknowledge as a more competitive setup, and that tradition has continued into the Premier League era.
Many Scottish footballers have appeared in the English Premier League, but which are the best?
Greatest Scottish Players in the Premier League History
Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher was certainly the most successful Scottish player in the history of the Premier League to date. After coming through the United youth academy, he made his senior debut in 2003, and he would spend the next 12 years at the club.
In a squad packed with many star names, Fletcher was something of an unsung hero at Old Trafford. He quietly went about his business in central midfield, but his contributions were rewarded with a host of honours. Darren Fletcher won 13 major trophies at Old Trafford, including five Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008.
Centre half Colin Hendry is another Scottish player to have won the Premier League in England. When the EPL began in 1992/93, he had embarked on a second spell with Blackburn Rovers, and this was to provide the best years of his career.
Hendry was a tough, uncompromising centre half and a natural leader. He’d already helped Blackburn to become a competitive force before they won the Premier League title in 1995. He was brave, and a vital part of that title-winning side.
An uncompromising centre forward, Duncan Ferguson became a folk hero at each of his professional clubs. He began his career with Dundee United, but made his name during an infamous spell with Rangers, where his aggressive style of play crossed a line in a match against Raith Rovers.
Ferguson made the move down south, where he became a cult figure at Everton. After an initial loan spell, the striker signed a full time deal and played at Goodison Park from 1994 to 1998. He then moved to Newcastle United, but his heart always seemed to be with Everton, and Ferguson returned for a second spell with the Toffees between 2000 and 2006.
He was part of the squad that won the FA Cup in 1995, and Duncan Ferguson later returned to manage Everton in two interim stints.
Left-sided defender Andrew Robertson is the most recent Scottish player to have won the Premier League at the time of writing. He’s an important figure at the heart of the Liverpool defence, and he played in 36 games as his team won the EPL title in 2020.
Robertson first came to England to play for Hull City when the club signed him from Dundee United in 2014. He’s a mobile left back with good pace, and many recognise Robertson as one of the best defenders in world football.
He has also won the Champions League during his time at Anfield and, with his Liverpool team continuing to challenge, Andrew Robertson will be targeting more major honours in England moving forward.
Midfielder Don Hutchison was born in England but qualified to play for Scotland through his ancestry. His entire domestic career was spent in English football, and he made his name during a four-year spell with Liverpool.
Hutchison was at Anfield when the Premier League began, and he’d developed into a tough midfielder who scored useful goals. His commitment meant that he was appreciated by the fans, but he was moved on to West Ham United in 1994. Don Hutchison had talent in abundance, but he struggled to settle at one club. In total, he appeared for nine English sides before finishing his career with Luton Town in 2007/08.
A solid and effective midfielder for Aston Villa, John McGinn is an important member of a squad that has been transformed under manager Unai Emery. After starting his career in Scotland with St Mirren and Hibernian, Villa swooped for McGinn’s signature, and he’s proved to be a reliable player who makes important scoring contributions.
After injury restricted his appearances in the 2019/20 season, McGinn came back stronger and rarely misses a game. With Aston Villa becoming one of the most competitive teams in England, the Scot will now be targeting trophies and maybe even a Premier League title.
Scottish international winger Kevin Gallacher spent most of his career in England, and he played for three Premier League clubs. He initially joined Coventry City from Dundee United in 1990 and was with the Sky Blues when the EPL began in the 1992/93 season.
Gallacher then joined Blackburn Rovers in 1993 and was a part of the squad that won the EPL title in 1994/95. He was an attacking winger who contributed his fair share of goals, and his scoring record in England was a respectable one.
Kevin Gallacher joined Newcastle United in 1999 and spent two more seasons in the Premier League before dropping down through the divisions.
Midfielder Gordon Strachan was one of the first Scottish players to make an impression in the Premier League era. He had initially played in the old First Division after joining Manchester United from Aberdeen in 1984.
Strachan then joined Leeds United, and he was with the Yorkshire club when the Premier League began in 1992/93. He was a competitive midfielder who was a tough tackler, and he was a threat from set pieces.
The Scot stayed with Leeds United until 1995, when he joined Coventry City. Before he retired, Gordon Strachan won four major honours in England, including the FA Cup in 1985 and the First Division title with Leeds in 1992.
A teammate of Gordon Strachan’s at Leeds United, Gary McAllister had first played in England when he joined Leicester City from Motherwell in 1985. When the Premier League arrived in England at the start of the 1992/93 season, McAllister was a part of the Leeds team that had just won the First Division title.
He was a creative midfielder who could be a threat from free kicks, and he scored some spectacular goals during his time in England. He also played for Coventry City between 1996 and 2000, and just as it seemed his career was winding down, Gary McAllister made a surprise switch to Liverpool.
The next two years proved to be the most successful of his career as McAllister helped the Reds win five major trophies, including the FA Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001. He briefly returned to Coventry before retiring as a player in 2004.
Scottish goalkeepers have come in for some criticism over the years, but Neil Sullivan was a far more reliable figure between the posts. The stopper made his name with Wimbledon, and he played for ten years at the South London club after making his debut in 1990.
Sullivan was recognised as one of the best keepers in the top flight, but he remained loyal to the club until they were relegated from the top tier in 2000. He then switched to Tottenham Hotspur, where he stayed until 2003. Neil Sullivan also made four EPL appearances for Chelsea before dropping down to the Championship with Leeds United.
One of the most dependable Scottish centre halves of the modern era, David Weir spent eight years in the Premier League with Everton from 1999 to 2007. The defender had established himself with Falkirk and Hearts before the switch to Goodison Park.
His time in the EPL marked his best years as a player. Weir won the majority of his Scotland caps while with Everton, and he was named as club captain by two different managers. After proving himself in English football, David Weir returned to Scotland in 2007, finishing his career with Glasgow Rangers.
Striker Steven Fletcher has played for no fewer than five English clubs over his career. After making his professional debut in Scotland with Hibernian, he joined EPL side Burnley at the start of the 2009/10 season. Since then, he has appeared for Wolves, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke City.
Fletcher’s best years in the Premier League came with Wolves where he was a regular scorer. At Sunderland and Burnley, he wasn’t as prolific, but he scored important goals in teams that were generally struggling in the lower half of the table.
Charlie Adam was a creative midfielder with an eye for goal who impressed during Blackpool’s brief stay in the Premier League. He scored 12 goals in the 2010/11 season and that was enough to persuade Liverpool to make a big-money move for the Scottish international.
Adam couldn’t quite replicate that scoring form at Anfield, but he became a useful member of the squad. He also had a reputation for tough tackling that followed him throughout his career. Charlie Adam’s scoring form returned when he moved to Stoke City in 2012, after he had been part of the Liverpool squad that had won the League Cup in the same year.
After a number of seasons as a useful squad member at Manchester United, Scott McTominay has finally become a first choice at Old Trafford. The player came through the United youth ranks and made his senior debut in 2017, but it would be some time before he established himself in the team.
The key to McTominay’s progression in recent months is his ability to provide more goals from midfield. His scoring record has improved at domestic and international level, and that’s going to make him a vital member of both the Manchester United and Scotland squads. Scott McTominay has already won the EFL Cup with United, and there should be much more to come from this talented winger.
After eight years in Scottish football with Dundee United and Celtic, Southampton swooped to bring Stuart Armstrong to the Premier League in 2018. He’s another combative midfielder who scores important goals, and he’s been a regular in the Saints squad since his arrival at St Mary’s.
Armstrong has stayed loyal to Southampton after the club dropped down to the Championship at the end of the 2022/23 season. His experience and quality in midfield will be an important factor as the Saints look to bounce back to the top flight.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Scottish football suffered a talent drain as the country’s best footballers left to play in England. The game in Scotland was much stronger then, but we still see the cream of the national team leave for clubs south of the border.
Some would argue that the strength of the game in Scotland is weaker in the Premier League era, but the point is that the best players still tend to come to England to prove their quality. These are the best Scottish players to have featured in the EPL, but who will be next?