Hands up who had Celtic reject Teemu Pukki down to win August’s Premier League Player of the Month award? Anyone? No? Me neither.
The Norwich striker scooped the prize after scoring five goals in the opening four league games, including a hat trick against Newcastle United.
It got us thinking about other unlikely recipients of the gong over the years and we’ve listed our top five below:
Mickey Evans (Southampton)
Sandwiched between Premier League legends Juninho and Dennis Bergkamp on the list of recipients is the slightly lesser-known Mickey Evans, who won the award with Southampton in April 1997.
With The Saints battling bravely against relegation, then boss Graeme Souness splashed the cash (£650,000) on Plymouth Argyle striker Evans, whom he believed, would add some much-needed muscle to their forward line.
With his West Country roots and giant bushy sideburns, Evans looked more like a member of Tony Robinson’s Time Team than a Premier League footballer. But, he scored four crucial goals during the month of April which saved The Saints from the drop and clinched him the Player of the Month award in the process.
Evans’ tenure at The Dell was a brief one, lasting just seven months. Despite this, he acquired cult-status amongst The Saints’ supporters, with many attributing their survival that year solely to the exploits of Evans.
Jimmy Bullard (Hull City)
There’s probably a whole generation of younger football fans out there who only recognise Jimmy Bullard as a Z-list reality TV star. So, it’s important to remind them he was a mediocre footballer too.
Only joking Jimmy, you’re a legend!
During his stints with Wigan, Fulham and Hull, Bullard was widely regarded as the biggest joker in the Premier League. Countless teammates became victims of Bullard’s pranks, which included putting salt in their tea or p**sing in their Lucozade bottles.
Who can forget his on-field antics too? Like the time he laughed in Duncan Ferguson’s face after the scary Scot had just been sent off for punching Paul Scharner? Or when he scored a penalty away to Manchester City and gathered his team-mates around him to be scolded, mimicking when manager Phil Brown gave Hull’s players a bollocking on the pitch at half-time?
He could play a bit too though. The shaggy-haired prankster clinched the Player of the Month award for November in 2009 after a string of impressive displays and goals which helped the newly-promoted Tigers remain unbeaten for the entire month.
Steven Fletcher (Sunderland)
To say there were a few raised eyebrows on Wearside when then Sunderland boss shelled out £14m on Wolves striker Steven Fletcher back in 2012, would be an understatement. It was more like a Dwayne Johnson impersonators convention.
Fletcher joined The Black Cats from Wolves who’d been relegated from the Premier League during the previous campaign when he’d scored 12 goals. The transfer caused a great deal of consternation in his native Scotland with national boss Craig Levein describing the fee Sunderland paid as ‘quite obscene’, while former Hibs striker Keith Wright questioned Fletcher’s Premier League credentials.
However, the Scotland international striker rammed the doubter’s words down their throats with a brace on his Premier League debut during a 2-2 draw at Swansea. He carried his rich vein of form into the next three league games by scoring against Liverpool, West Ham and Wigan Athletic.
Fletcher was awarded the Premier League Player of the Month for September for his efforts.
Marouane Fellaini (Everton)
Before he became a figure of ridicule at Manchester United, once upon a time Marouane Fellaini was a highly regarded young footballer at Everton. Joining The Toffees in 2008 for a fee of £15m from Belgian side Standard Liege, the towering midfielder was a consistent performer for the Toffees during his first four seasons at the club.
But, it was at the beginning of the 2012-2013 season that Fellaini played arguably the best football of his career. He was roundly praised for his outstanding performance in the opening game against Manchester United during which he scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory.
The hairy Everton No.25 scored in the club’s next game against Aston Villa and again against Swansea two weeks later. His goals and performances earned him a Player of the Month award for November and just a month later The Guardian ranked him #60 in their ‘100 Best Footballers in the World’ list. Yes, you read that right.
Fellaini finished the season as Everton’s top goal scorer and made a deadline day move to Manchester United for £27.5m at the end of the summer transfer window.
By April 2014, Fellaini had made another newspaper’s list. The Telegraph’s ’10 Worst Buys of the Premier League season’.
Adam le Fondre (Reading)
Adam who? I hear you ask. Premier League fans might not be too familiar with Adam le Fondre, as the Stockport-born striker with the French-sounding surname only spent one season in England’s top flight.
The marksman was plying his trade in League Two for Rotherham United when his goalscoring exploits brought him to the attention of Championship side Reading during the 2011-12 season. Le Fondre was instrumental in The Royal’s promotion push, scoring 13 goals including the equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace with the point securing the Championship title.
The forward went through a bit of a purple patch during January in 2013, scoring five goals in games against West Brom, Newcastle and Chelsea. His form was rewarded when he became Reading’s first-ever Premier League Player of the Month award recipient.
Le Fondre finished the season with a respectable 12 goals in 34 league games although he was unable to prevent The Royals from being relegated. Now 32, the striker is plying his trade in Australia’s A-League for Sydney FC.