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Posted by John Culea on 03/22/2012

What Premier players and managers reflect love and enjoyment of the game?

I can only imagine what it must be like to take the pitch as a member of a Premier team. I would be beaming non-stop from ear-to-ear. With that in mind, I offer a list of players whose bearing on the pitch seems to indicate the pure joy they feel about the sport that they are gifted in and love so much.

First a disclaimer: I base my opinion only on what I see in televised matches on ESPN and FSC in America and what I read from sources such as ESPN Soccernet. What you see isn’t always the true picture; so, with that in mind, here are my selections:

Brad Friedel-Tottenham
The American has a great attitude and interacts professionally with opponents, fans and teammates. A wry smile often is seen on his face.

Shay Given-Aston Villa
The young Jack Lemmon lookalike was gracious when he lost his job to Joe Hart at Manchester City and has gratitude written on his face to be playing on a regular basis.

Bacary Sagna-Arsenal
Sagna is a true professional who almost never whines and comports himself in a positive manner.

Chris Smalling-Manchester United
Smalling reflects the class of SAF and the love of football.

Joleon Lescott-Manchester City
Lescott goes about his assignment with resolve, confidence and an air of respect for the sport.

David “Junior” Hoilett-Blackburn
The Canadian is clearly in love with the sport and is an encourager to teammates on the pitch.

Park Ji-Sung-Manchester United
The South Korean could never be described as “bubbly”; however, his countenance is always positive and supportive to those around him. He never pouts when on the bench or when he is taken off the pitch for a substitute.

Michael Essien-Chelsea
Grateful to be fit again, Essien is a hard-nosed player with a smile that belies his toughness.

Dirk Kuyt-Liverpool
The Dutchman’s battery is always on full charge and his approach to the sport is in the best traditions of the game. He is genuinely happy for others when they succeed.

Yaya Toure-Manchester City
His physical presence never gets in the way of conducting himself with respect for the sport.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni-Blackburn
Without a doubt, “Yak” is the player who exhibits the greatest joy for the sport. A constant smile is on his face and he seems honored to be on the pitch. The 30-year-old Nigerian is a tremendous ambassador for football.

Emmanuel Adebayor-Tottenham
Having found a home and being wanted at Spurs, Adebayor seldom wears a frown.

Kenwyne Jones-Stoke
The elegant striker from Trinidad doesn’t play as much as he once did, but is delightful to watch when he is on the pitch. His back-flip celebration after goals is Exhibit A of his love for the game.

Danny Welbeck-Manchester United
He is blessed to be with Man Yoo and shows it on the pitch.

Salomon Kalou-Chelsea
The Ivorian is a bit of a ball hog, but always positive in his play and demeanor.

Javier Hernandez-Manchester United
Chicharito has boyish good looks and the Mexican’s fun on the pitch is that of a youngster.

Peter Crouch-Stoke
Wherever the “giraffe” has played, Crouch’s love for the game is written all over his face and beanpole frame.

Harry Rednapp-Spurs
‘Arry is hardly a bundle of laughs; however, he is terrific in media interviews and his actions during the game are fun to watch.

Kenny Dalglish-Liverpool
Kenny D is 100% into the game and his outbursts of joy when the Reds score (as seldom as that is) are contagious to the players and fans.

Roberto DiMatteo-Chelsea
Not given a fair shot in his previous managerial stint at West Brom, DiMatteo reflects his gratitude to be the caretaker manager for Chelsea. His touchline body language is a good thing to see.

Steve Bruce-Unemployed
The former Birmingham City, Wigan, and Sunderland manager is missed on the Premier League sidelines and TV interviews. Bruce is as likable as they come.

I welcome comments and talking points.

P.S. A house-cleaning note on Fantasy points: David Hoilett has been given one point for a clean sheet in Blackburn's result over Sunderland. When the points were tallied on Wednesday, his fantasy score was nine. It is now ten points.


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John Culea John Culea is an American living in San Diego who became hooked on football while serving in the Navy for two years in London. A former TV news Emmy award-winning anchor/reporter, John manages the Premier Fantasy league MCMUARTN and goes by the Fantasy honorary title of "Sir John". John is a devoted Chelsea supporter and offers candid, often off-beat commentaries on the Premier League from an American perspective. He invites open discussion on his blog and can be contacted at

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