Goal.com's Top 50 English Players: David Platt (34)

Goal.com continues its countdown of England's greatest players. Today, we feature the cultured and journeyed midfielder; David Platt.
No.50 - John Terry
No.49 - Tony Currie
No.48 - Terry Butcher
No.47 - Gerry Hitchens
No.46 - Paul Ince
No.45 - George Camsell
No.44 - Wayne Rooney
No.43 - Jackie Milburn
No.42 - Roger Hunt
No.41 - Rio Ferdinand
No.40 - Wilf Mannion

No.39 - Frank Lampard
No.38 - John Barnes
No.37 - Nat Lofthouse
No.36 - Eddie Hapgood
No.35 - Chris Waddle


Born      10 June 1966; Oldham, Lancashire

62 caps, 27 goals

Clubs     Manchester United (Youth); Crewe Alexandra; Aston Villa; Bari; Juventus; Sampdoria; Arsenal; Nottingham Forest.

As a general rule of thumb, if English footballers are not loyal to the club that schooled them, then they will likely remain in the nation's league system. David Platt was one of few notable players to embark on a successful four-year Italian sojourn, before returning to Britain to represent north London club Arsenal, and midland outfit Nottingham Forest.

Platt was an academy product at Manchester United, but was chopped by then-boss Ron Atkinson, and consequently shipped to Fourth Division side Crewe Alexandra. Under Dario Gradi, Platt began to develop as a midfielder.

His United rejection has been cited as a source of inspiration, but this allegation was ill-founded, as the Red Devils had the luxury of fielding esteemed internationals such as Mark Hughes, Frank Stapleton, Norman Whiteside, and Alan Brazil. It would have been ludicrous to relegate one of the aforementioned quartet in favour of the burgeoning Platt, despite Atkinson's admiration for the player's undoubted skill. Atkinson said, "I don't make too many mistakes, but that was one. I always had the feeling that he was going to make it."

He had good stamina, was a strong-runner, and became a prolific goal-getter with Crewe. In the 1986-87 season, Platt returned a goals to games ratio that bettered one in two. The next year, the 21-year-old bragged a tally that would have been the envy of a greedy striker, as he secured 19 goals from 26 appearances. 

A transfer to Aston Villa beckoned - despite advances from Chelsea - and in his first term he helped guide the Villans into England's top flight, before almost firing them to a league title. Despite winning no major honours with the claret-coloured club, Platt was awarded the PFA Player of the Year.


"GRANDE PLATT! Platt was the only English player to shine in Italy. Gazza of course was great but he was injured most of the time so we didn't see much. David did well in representing English players in Serie A." - B&B | London

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Platt cost Villa £200,000. He left for £5,500,000. If the hard-working central engine was a hit at Villa, he was to prove an even bigger success in Italy. Platt was a phenomenon in his first season in Calcio, scoring 11 goals in his first season in a league that is renowned for having the tightest and most stringent of defences.

Despite winning a UEFA Cup with Serie A's Old Lady; Juventus, Platt failed to make an impact for his second Italian club. He scored just thrice in 16 attempts, but was played out of position, and utilised more as a defensive midfielder and hence his license to roam forward was restricted. Platt struggled to break through the ranks at Juve, and had to fight for a place with German legend Andreas Moller, and Italians Dino Baggio, Giancarlo Marrocchi, and Antonio Conte.

His spell at Sampdoria - in the shirt most commonly associated with him during his spell away from England (pictured, above left) - was to be more fruitful. In his first full season at the club he was granted the freedom of the park, much like Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard now are at Liverpool and Chelsea respectively, and Platt finished third top goalscorer during his rookie term at Samp. He finished one better the next season, as he was second only to Ruud Gullit.

The transition from England to Italy was easy for Platt as he enjoyed both, "the lifestyle as well as the football."

His return to England was to prove just as comfortable.


Double-winner with Arsenal
Wenger is praised for his footballing ethos, but it was Bruce Rioch who was first to help transform the club into one that emphasises intricate passing, and the signings of Platt (£4,750,000) and Bergkamp (£7,250,000) were testament to a revolution that Rioch foresaw.

Both players proved their worth on the final day of the season when Arsenal were trailing Bolton Wanderers, a loss would have seen the side miss out on UEFA Cup qualification, but the pair both got their names on the score sheet in the final ten minutes to salvage the red and white's season.

In an England shirt, Platt's performances were consistent, memorable, and is where he cemented his status as one of the most complete midfielders of the '90s.

He made his debut against Italy in a friendly aimed to aid the Three Lions in their World Cup quest in 1990. He became somewhat of a super-sub during the group games that summer when, against Belgium, England needed a breakthrough after their opponents continued to probe forward and rattled the frame of the goal twice.

Enter Platt.

Paul Gascoigne lined up a free kick and threaded Platt with a ball toward the right-hand post. Platt evaded his marker and watched as the ball came over his shoulder before perfectly volleying into the net. Platt found the net 27 times in England's iconic white. He scored again versus Cameroon in the quarter-final, but could not prevent an ultimately disappointing semi-final exit in what is, with hindsight, England's greatest opportunity of adding to their 1966 triumph.


Juventus - UEFA Cup (1993)

Sampdoria - Coppa Italia (1994)
Supercoppa Italiana runner up (1994)

Arsenal - Premier League (1998)
FA Cup (1998)

England - FIFA World Cup fourth place (1990)

Individual - PFA Player of the Year (1990)

... that David Platt preferred the spontaneous Italian way of life to the regimented English outlook? He said upon his return to England, "Over there they just seem to get more out of the day. Meals out were great, there was none of this having to book and wait for your wife to get ready."

Alan Dawson, Goal.com

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