Since bursting onto the Premier League scene in 1997 as a teenager with Arsenal, Nicolas Anelka has established himself as one of the world's most consistent and dangerous attackers. After leaving Paris Saint Germain at the tender age of 17, Anelka became an early example of Arsene Wenger's policy of building superstars, not buying them. His goals helped lead the Gunners to league and cup double in 1997/98. He left the North London club in a storm of controversy, though, and joined Real Madrid in a £22.3 million deal.
The move marked the beginning of a nomadic career that took Anelka, nicknamed 'Le Sulk' because of his perceived temperamentality, back to Paris, to Liverpool, Manchester City, Fenerbahce and Bolton Wanderers. The only constant in his career, it seems, was goals.
It took a move to Chelsea in 2008 to finally allow Anelka to settle and in doing so, he displayed a more mature character on and off the pitch. His years at Stamford Bridge continued to yield goals, but also demonstrated excellent link up play that he perhaps wasn't given credit for previously. His partnership with Didier Drogba thrived under Carlo Ancelotti and he put the disappointment of missing a penalty in the 2008 Champions League final to help lead the Blues to a league and cup double (his second) in 2009/10 - more than ten years after his first.
In an international career that spanned twelve years, Anelka scored 14 goals in 69 games for France. Indeed, had he kept himself in favour with the successive managers, there's no doubting his return could have been much greater. Despite his numerous feuds, he won a European Championships medal in 2000 and triumphed in the Confederations Cup the following year. He also appeared at the European Championships in 2008 and the World Cup in 2010. Now serving the final chapter of his career in China with former Chelsea team mate Didier Drogba, with his glittering successes on the pitch and his entertainment value off, there's no doubting the fact that Nicolas has been a true Icon of the Premier League era.