The Premier League’s one-season wonders

England captain Harry Kane was famously dismissed as a ‘one-season wonder’ in some quarters following a 31-goal haul during his breakthrough campaign with Tottenham.

While the Spurs striker has emphatically proved his doubters wrong, plenty of former Premier League players were unable to shake off the tag.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of those who faded into relative obscurity after enjoying a standout top-flight campaign.

Michael Bridges (Leeds, 1999-00)

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Michael Bridges celebrates scoring Leeds’ late winner against Southampton in November 1999 (John Giles/PA)

England Under-21 international Bridges is perhaps unfortunate to be included on the list given his persistent injury issues. Aged just 21, he fired David O’Leary’s exciting young Leeds side to Champions League qualification by registering 19 league goals, a tally bettered only by Kevin Phillips, Alan Shearer and Dwight Yorke. He failed to score again for the West Yorkshire club and, following unsuccessful stints with Newcastle, Bolton and first club Sunderland, became a journeyman striker whose career ended in Australia.

Marcus Stewart (Ipswich, 2000-01)

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Marcus Stewart finished second to Chelsea’s Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the race for the 2000-01 golden boot (Martin Rickett/PA)

Stewart outscored Thierry Henry and Michael Owen as George Burley’s Tractor Boys qualified for the UEFA Cup following a remarkable fifth-placed finish in their first campaign since promotion. Only Golden Boot winner Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink managed more than his 19 league goals but, for both club and player, the good times did not last. Ipswich went down the following season and Stewart again suffered relegation a year later after moving to Sunderland. A prolific Football League striker for Bristol Rovers and Huddersfield in the early days of his career, he never again played in the top flight, while Ipswich are yet to return.

Michael Ricketts (Bolton, 2001-02)

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Michael Ricketts, right, won a solitary England cap after impressing for Bolton (Martin Rickett/PA)

Ricketts initially continued his red-hot scoring streak in the top flight after firing Bolton to promotion via the play-offs, prompting England recognition. His solitary international cap came in a friendly against Holland under Sven-Goran Eriksson in February 2002 but he had already fallen out of form by then and was overlooked for the World Cup squad. The last of his 12 league goals that season came in January. A 2003 move to Middlesbrough failed to spark an upturn in fortunes and he went on to have limited success with a series of Championship and League One clubs before retirement.

Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn, 2007-08)

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Roque Santa Cruz was Blackburn’s player of the year for the 2007-08 season (Dave Thompson/PA)

Having arrived from Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich with a fairly uninspiring scoring record, Santa Cruz banged in the goals during his first season at Ewood Park. He claimed 23 in all competitions, including 19 in the Premier League. Despite managing just four league strikes the following campaign, big-spending Manchester City opted to splash a reported £17.5million to reunite him with former Rovers boss Mark Hughes. He flopped at the Etihad Stadium but, aged 38, was named Paraguayan footballer of the year for 2019 for his performances for Asuncion-based Club Olimpia.

Amr Zaki (Wigan, 2008-09)

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Amr Zaki, right, joined Wigan after impressing manager Steve Bruce during Egypt’s triumphant 2008 Africa Cup of Nations campaign (Peter Byrne/PA)

Similar to Ricketts, Zaki is another striker perhaps more accurately described as a ‘half-season wonder’. The Egypt international’s superb start to life in England prompted comparisons to Premier League record goalscorer Alan Shearer from Wigan’s chairman Dave Whelan. On loan from Zamalek, he scored 11 goals for the Latics before the end of 2008, including twice at Liverpool, but failed to add to that tally after the turn of the year. A goalless loan spell with Hull followed before he returned to the Middle East, playing in his homeland, Turkey, Kuwait, Morocco and Lebanon.

Michu (Swansea, 2012-13)

The Premier League’s one-season wonders PLZ Soccer
Former Swansea forward Michu retired from football aged 31 (Andy Lloyd/PA)

The Spaniard was relatively unknown when he joined Michael Laudrup’s Swans from Rayo Vallecano for around £2million. He promptly made his mark, hitting 22 goals in all competitions as the club lifted the League Cup for the first time and secured a top-half finish. After an extremely underwhelming second year at the Liberty Stadium, which included an international cap, a subsequent injury-hit loan spell in Serie A with Napoli proved even less fruitful. He briefly represented amateur side  UP Langreo and second-tier Spanish club Oviedo following his departure from south Wales before retiring aged 31 in 2017.

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