Premier League Cult Heroes: A Dying Breed (Part 1)
Posted by Kieran Cross | Published on April 14, 2017
Cult heroes are something of a dying breed in the modern game. Those players that, despite limited success at a club, receive the largest round of applause from the fans whenever they enter a game. Absolute legends amongst the fans, these guys could score 2 goals in 34 appearances before being shipped off to Sweden, but the fans would chant their heroes name long after he had departed. With this in mind, this series of articles will take a brief look at the cult heroes of current Premier League clubs, whether they are still at the club or not, and attempt to explain just why these (often sub-par) players are so revered in the terraces of their respective clubs.
Manchester United: Diego Forlan
While Diego Forlan will undoubtedly go down in history as a top striker, it is fair to say that his time at United was, well, shocking. After joining United in 2002, Forlan made 63 appearances for the Reds, only scoring 10 goals in that time. In fact one of the highlights of his time at United was a now legendary open goal miss against Juventus, which can be found here. Now, while his stats are far from great, this didn’t stop the United faithful from taking to him. This was helped in no small part by the two goals he scored in one match against Liverpool, sealing a 2-1 United win against their bitter rivals.
For this legendary feat of goalscoring prowess, United fans still chant “He came from Uruguay, he made the scousers cry”, despite his time at the Manchester club being widely regarded as a huge flop. Cult hero status confirmed. He left two years after he joined United, and went on to great success in Spain and Italy. The 37-year-old recently hung up his boots after a spell playing for giants of world football, Mumbai City.
AFC Bournemouth: Tokelo Rantie
As a Bournemouth fan myself, Tokelo Rantie holds a special place in my heart. The diminutive South African striker was Bournemouth’s record transfer, at a mighty £2.5 million, and a lot was expected of the rapid forward. Unfortunately, it turned out that Rantie was what “Football Twitter” would describe as a “pace merchant”. The poor bloke scored 5 goals in 44 appearances at the Cherries, showing all the goalscoring ability of a canal barge. However, the fans immediately took to Rantie because he worked hard and as we all know, God loves a trier.
The highlight of his short career at Bournemouth was a wonder goal against Burnley, which was as shocking as Donald Trump making a rational, well-informed decision. Rantie reached almost meme-like status amongst Bournemouth fans, with the Cherries faithful chanting “If Rantie scores, we’re on the piss” and the more family-friendly “Tokelo Rantie baby, Tokelo Rantie wooooooaaahhh” week in, week out, even if Rantie wasn’t on the bench. Rantie was put out of his misery in 2016 when he joined Gençlerbirliği in Sweden. A special mention goes to Juan Iturbe, who spawned one of the most catchy chants to ever grace Dean Court, despite consistently crap performances.
Swansea City: Lee Trundle
Lee Trundle is an example of how cult heroes don’t always need to be flops on the pitch. An extremely talented player who became well known for his showboating, Trundle played football league games like they were a kickabout down the local park. Scoring 83 goals over two spells at the Welsh side (racking up 166 appearances in that time), Trundle’s displays of skill, coupled with an innate goalscoring ability, saw him become a cult hero at the Swans very quickly. Loved by fans of the Welsh side and neutrals alike, Trundle reached almost celebrity status in the Football League, with everybody waiting to see what the mercurial talent would do with the ball next.
His cult hero status transcends just his time playing for the Swans, as he is still a “Club Ambassador”, engaging in many fundraising events for charities and local foundations, showing that he is a class act both on and off the pitch. In fact, a video of Trundle scoring a sensational trickshot penalty during a charity game recently went viral, showing that class is in fact permanent.
That’s it for the first part of this mini-series of articles looking into Premier League cult heroes. If you have any suggestions for your club’s number one cult hero, make sure to leave a comment below.