21. Simon Ratcliffe (1995-1998)

When I saw Mark Hughes leave Mark Ratcliffe stranded in his wake to score during the pre-season friendly with Chelsea, I thought we had another ineffectual journeyman midfielder on our hands. Nothing could have been further from the truth. He was arguably the most influential player in the promotion side – we certainly performed better when he was in the side – and he adapted better to the Second Division than most, chipping in with a number of spectacular goals during 96/97 (many of them the trademark free kicks which saw him make a late run from a disinterested deep position). Fantastic contributions to the groundbreaking League Cup run included the long-range efforts against Barnsley and Coventry, and his effectiveness only really waned when Pulis started playing him out of position at fullback. One of our best free transfers ever.

124 apps, 13 goals

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