A worldwide poll conducted by Barclays has seen the Manchester United striker overtake Fernando Torres as the most highly-rated footballer, with Ryan Giggs hailed as the best ever
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is the best Barclays Premier League player, according to the 2012 Barclays Global Fans Survey.
Through a dedicated website, 30,000 supporters gave their opinions on the league over the past 12 months, with one in five fans voting for the England international.
Upon hearing the news, Rooney said: "It’s great to be recognised by the fans in this survey. I get messages from fans all over the world so I know how popular the Barclays Premier League is outside of the UK.”
The survey is the third one of its kind after previous editions in 2005 and 2008.
David Wheldon, Barclays Managing Director of Brand, Reputation and Citizenship said: "It is fascinating to get fan views on the Barclays Premier League. With more than 30,000 fans from nearly 200 territories taking part in the poll we are able to show some genuine insights into who fans follow, their favourite players and how they enjoy keeping up with the Barclays Premier League.
"Social media is having a real impact allowing fans to debate and interact with other fans, something that has grown hugely since the last survey in 2008 when channels such as Twitter and Facebook were still in their infancy."
From the current crop of the Barclays Premier League players, 20 per cent would select Rooney as the first name on the team sheet, followed by Robin van Persie (14%) and Steven Gerrard (10%).
The best Barclays Premier League player of all time is Ryan Giggs, with former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry trailing with 12% of votes and Liverpool captain Gerrard lying third with 10%.
At the other end of the career scale, 17% ranked Arsenal youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the most exciting prospect over the next five years, with Jack Wilshere (13%) and Tom Cleverley (8%) close behind.
Once again, Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson (41%) topped the poll as the fan's favourite Barclays Premier League manager, whilst Jose Mourinho leads the way (38%) for bosses who they would like to see in league.
Behind the Barclays Premier League in most popular leagues, the Uefa Champions League (90%) was way ahead of its nearest challenger La Liga (48%).
What makes the Barclays Premier League most appealing is the style of football (52%). Very close behind was atmosphere and passion (49%), competitiveness (48%) and talent (47%).
Fans pointed to a club’s style of football as the key reason behind supporting a team with 31%, with an average of 14.5 years is spent following the outfit.
The survey was undertaken during 2012 and was set up as a 'poll' of Barclays Premier League football fans through a designated website where the poll was hosted.