Gylfi Sigurdsson

Premier League: The 14 Smallest Nations to Have Had a Top Flight Player

When you think of foreign Premier League talent, you think of the gifted and intricate Spanish, the skilful and passionate Brazilians or the hard-working, powerful and often technical French.

The English top flight poaches talent from across the world from these nations, cherry-picking the cream of the crop of players from these footballing powerhouses.

But there are also those who make it to the big time from some of the smaller countries out there, often making us stand back and exclaim, 'From where?' 

So, away from the typical nations, let’s take a look at the 14 countries who’ve produced Premier League talent with populations under one million people. 

14. Montenegro

Players: 4 (Stevan Jovetić, Stefan Savić, Simon Vukčević, Elsad Zverotić)

Population: 628,000

In the area that was formerly Yugoslavia lies Montenegro, a nation that has delivered some good quality players in its time despite its small size.

The most well-known Premier League Montenegrins have both donned Manchester City’s sky blue strip; striker Stevan Jovetić, now at Monaco, and Stefan Savić, who plays as a centre back at Atletico Madrid.

Despite the highly-rated Jovetić joining City for a fee of around €26m euros, he never made a real impact on the Premier League due to time out with injuries. Only managing eight goals in his 30 appearances, he was soon sold in 2016 to Inter and replaced with Wilfried Bony.

Savić also failed to set the Premier League alight, despite now being regarded as a decent central defender. He was only played 12 times in his single season with City.

Elsewhere, Simon Vukčević featured for Blackburn Rovers’ 2011/12 campaign which saw them relegated and defensive-minded Elsad Zverotić had an underwhelming couple of seasons with Fulham.

13. Cape Verde

Players: 2 (Cabral, Pelé)

Population: 550,000

A small cluster of volcanic islands off of north western Africa, Cape Verde is actually responsible for a number of top players across the globe. 

Many players who have featured in the Portuguese national team are of Cape Verdean descent, including former Manchester United winger Luis Nani and Monaco’s Gelson Martins. 

Even footballing meme-lord Bebe, an ex-teammate of Nani’s at United, has parents from the island nation.

However, only two players have had Premier League appearances who are solely Cape Verdean and, unfortunately, they are more towards the Bebe end of the scale than the Nani end.

The deceptively named Pelé represented West Bromwich Albion in the 2008/09 season, whilst defensive midfielder Cabral racked up a grand total of one appearance for Sunderland.

It’s safe to say neither made much of a name for Cape Verde in their short Premier League stints.

12. Malta

Players: 1 (Kerr)

Population: 440,000

To this day the only player of Maltese descent in the Premier League is Dylan Kerr.

The journeyman represented 18 clubs in his career, but his time in the top flight came with Leeds United in the Premier League’s maiden season.

The small European island nation sits south of Italy in the middle of the Mediterranean and full-back Kerr was born in the country’s capital, Valletta. 

However, Malta is more of a holiday destination than a football powerhouse and is currently 181st in FIFA’s world rankings.

Kerr has since gone into management, taking the helm of sides in some obscure locations such as Kenya and Vietnam.

11. Iceland

Players: 17 (Notably Gudjohnsen, Sigurdsson, Gudmundsson, Gunnarsson)

Population: 339,000

We are all well aware of Iceland’s remarkable journey as a footballing nation by now.

From knocking England out of Euro 2016 to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, the tiny nation has an incredible record for their size. 

With 17 Icelanders featuring for Premier League sides, they’ve had a remarkable turnover of quality players for somewhere with a population similar to that of the city of Leicester. 

Notable former Icelandic players in the Premier League include ex-Chelsea, Spurs, Stoke and Fulham forward Eidur Gudjohnsen, as well as Herman Hreidarsson, who racked up over 300 appearances for the likes of Crystal Palace, Wimbledon and Portsmouth.

Two Icelanders currently play for top flight teams, the most recognisable being Everton’s midfield maestro Gylfi Sigurdsson, whilst Burnley winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson also has Premier League experience.

With Aston Villa’s promotion from the Championship, Birkir Bjarnasson could become the 18th player from Iceland to step on to Premier League soil if he gets game time in the upcoming season.

10. Barbados

Players: 3 (Boyce, Ifill, Goodridge)

Population: 287,000

The idyllic Caribbean island of Barbados is responsible for three Premier League players.

The most well-known of the trio has to be Emerson Boyce, who was a staple of Wigan’s back line for nine seasons. He also captained Wigan to their famous FA Cup triumph in 2013, where they defeated Manchester City in the dying seconds of the final.

Paul Ifill, meanwhile, made a name for himself at Millwall. His Premier League opportunity came from newly promoted Sheffield United, but was sold on to Crystal Palace after falling out of favour with manager Neil Warnock.

Gregory Goodridge is the most unrecognisable name of the three. Only managing substitute appearances for QPR in the 1995-96 Premier League season, he went on to play for Bristol City and Torquay before returning to Barbados.

9. Curaçao

Players: 5 (Martina, Bacuna, Agustien, Gorre, Martis)

Population: 163,000

Located off the north coast of South America lies the island nation of Curaçao. Although an autonomous country, Curaçao is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and as a result many Dutch players have Curaçaoan roots, such as Crystal Palace full-back Patrick van Aanholt.

Despite its small population, five Curaçao nationals have graced the Premier League, some more successfully than others.

One Curaçaoan is still playing for a Premier League side, which is Everton defender Cuco Martina, although he did spend all of last season on loan to both Stoke City and Feyenoord.

Leandro Bacuna was part of the Cardiff team that was relegated to the Championship last season, but also played for Aston Villa between 2011 and 2015. He currently has a total of 96 Premier League appearances.

Kemy Agustien was part of Brendan Rodgers' Swansea side that was promoted to the Premier League in 2013. His career spiralled after a series of injuries with the Welsh club, seeing him go on to play for teams in Denmark, The Philippines and for non-league sides in England.

Swansea also gave a single appearance to promising winger Kenji Gorre, who after loan stints in Holland and at Northampton Town, transferred to Portuguese side Nacional.

The final Premier League Curaçaoan is Shelton Martis. He got his first top flight appearance with West Brom in 2009, but has since had a varied career playing for the likes of Doncaster Rovers and Jumpasri United in Thailand.

8. Grenada

Players: 2 (Roberts, Facey)

Population: 112,000

2002 saw the Premier League’s only Grenadian representatives earn their debuts.

For Bolton Wanderers, young striker Delroy Facey was given his opportunity to shine by then-manager Sam Allardyce, but soon faded into obscurity.

However, countryman Jason Roberts became a Premier League regular. Debuting in the top flight for West Brom, Roberts, who now works as a pundit on the BBC’s football coverage, went on to play for Wigan, Portsmouth, Blackburn and Reading, scoring 45 goals in the league.

Although both were born in the UK, Facey and Roberts went on to play for the West Indies island nation at international level, scoring 2 and 8 goals, respectively. 

7. Seychelles

Players: 1 (Betsy)

Population: 98,000

With a population of less than 100,000 people, the African islands of the Seychelles are more commonly known as a tranquil, white-sand-blue-sea holiday destination.

However, when Kevin Betsy mad his one and only Premier League appearance for Fulham against Manchester United, he made the Seychelles a member of the Premier League players club.

He made seven appearances for the Seychelles national team towards the end of his career, which also saw him play for the likes of Bristol City and Barnsley.

It will likely be a very long wait until we see a Seychelloise in the Premier League again, if ever.

6. Antigua and Barbuda

Players: 3 (Leigertwood, Blackstock, Ashikodi)

Population: 97,000

Yet another beautiful island country on this list is Antigua and Barbuda, located in the Caribbean.

The most recognisable player from this nation of just 97,000 people will likely be Mikele Leigertwood. The defensive midfielder had spells with Sheffield United, Reading and Crystal Palace, ending his career with a total of 69 Premier League appearances.

Southampton fans may recognise the name Dexter Blackstock. A member of a talented Saints squad that featured the likes of Kenwyne Jones, Peter Crouch and Kevin Phillips, Blackstock only made nine Premier League appearances in two seasons.

The most obscure player is definitely Moses Ashikodi. Making only 2 appearances for Watford, the striker went on to play for more lower league and non-league sides than you can shake a stick at. 

5. Bermuda

Players: 3 (Goater, Wells, Lightbourne)

Population: 62,500

Now we’re getting into the real small nations. Cast out in the Atlantic Ocean lies Bermuda which, despite producing three Premier League players, has a smaller population than the Scottish city of Inverness, while every man, woman and child in the country could fit into Old Trafford with plenty of space to spare.

Kyle Lightbourne became the first in 1997 with Coventry City, making just seven appearances.

Then came Shaun Goater, a famous face with Manchester City fans. He played in two Premier League campaigns for the Sky Blues, scoring 13 goals.

The most recent came in the 2017/18 season when Burnley’s pacey forward Nahki Wells was given his Premier League debut by Sean Dyches. Wells spent last season on loan to QPR in the Championship, but may be given another crack in the top division this season.

4. Saint Kitts and Nevis

Players: 4 (Bowry, Burton, Newton, Willock)

Population: 53,000

Yep, you guessed it: it’s another Caribbean island. Saint Kitts and Nevis has a smaller population than Weymouth, yet has four players who have represented Premier League teams.

Crystal Palace have had two Kittitian players: Both Bobby Bowry and Sagi Burton played for the Eagles in the 1990s. 

Adam Newton managed just two appearances for West Ham United in the 1999/2000 season, whilst Calum Willock played four times across two seasons for Fulham.

Not the most memorable names, but still an impressive achievement for a country so small. 

3. Faroe Islands

Players: 1 (Nielsen)

Population: 49,000

Technically part of The Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroe Islands are located in the North Sea, roughly halfway between the tip of Scotland and Iceland.

Their sole Premier League player is Gunnar Nielsen, a goalkeeper who in five seasons with Manchester City made just one appearance.

With Shay Given as first choice and Martin Fulop as backup, third choice Nielsen was given his one appearance in the 2009/10 season and was included in a City squad featuring the likes of Carlos Tevez, Robinho and Emmanuel Adebayor.

Nielsen now plays his club football in Iceland and has racked up 42 appearances for the Faroe Islands national team.

2. Gibraltar

Players: 1 (Higginbotham)

Population: 34,000

When Premier League stalwart Danny Higginbotham decided towards the end of his career to represent the newly-FIFA-recognised Gibraltar on the international stage, he became the first player ever from the British Overseas Territory to have made a top flight appearance.

The no-nonsense defender, who has donned the shirts of Manchester United, Derby County, Stoke, Southampton and Sunderland, received three international caps for Gibraltar, which is located on the tip of the Iberian Peninsula bordering Andalusia.

With a total of 210 Premier League appearances and nine goals, Higginbotham is one of the most accomplished players in this list, despite coming from the second smallest nation in the league’s history.

1. Montserrat

Players: 3 (Fox, Comley, Dyer)

Population: 5,000

Incredibly, this British Overseas Territory in the West Indies, which has a population akin to that of the average attendance of a Macclesfield Town match, has produced three Premier League footballers.

Montserrat, which is only 10 miles long and seven miles wide, has given us Ruel Fox, Brandon Comley and Bruce Dyer.

Fox, an accomplished forward in the nineties with Norwich, Newcastle and Tottenham, made over 220 appearances in the Premier League era, scoring 36 goals and assisting 44. 

He later went on to coach and scout for Montserrat, scouring England for players with roots in the country to play for the national side, which is currently ranked 197th in the world.

Brandon Comley made a sole top flight appearance for QPR back in the 2014/15 season and now plays for Colchester United.

Finally, Bruce Dyer played for Crystal Palace in the nineties, making 40 appearances over 2 seasons with the Eagles.

Not only is Montserrat the smallest nation on this list, it is the fifth smallest in the entire world, beaten only by the Falkland Islands, Niue, Tokelau and Vatican City. To have three players of Montserratian heritage in the Premier League is a crazy statistic and will likely remain the smallest ever Premier League nation forever.