This past decade has seen players arrive at Home Park and demonstrate the potential to play top flight football – some of which have. Others have left a great impact on the club, as their actions have helped to positively change the club’s future. As 2019 draws to a close, we’ve reviewed the past ten years to pick out the top fifty Pilgrims to have donned our Green and White.
It’s important to note three things: first, this is not a competition of the best players; we have not judged players based purely on their skill, but also their impact. Jake Cole may not be the most able goalkeeper in Plymouth Argyle’s history, but he left a greater impact than most, as his performances were vital in avoiding relegation to the National League for two consecutive seasons. For that, he gets a ranking higher than that of Alex Palmer, who is a better keeper objectively speaking but has had a significantly smaller impact on the club.
Second, players have been judged according to their ability across all the time they were at the club, not just their peak. For example, Conor Hourihane in his first eighteen months wouldn’t get close to this list, but the Hourihane of the final five months before his departure would probably outrank all but a select few individuals in terms of ability. This has been factored into his ranking, instead of merely taking him at his peak.
Finally, this list is not perfect. It is notoriously difficult to rank players, let alone more than 200 of them across a ten year spell. To build this list, we spent hours debating, ranking and re-ranking lists of players until we arrived on a list that we were happy with. There will be players that you believe should be ranked higher, lower, or shouldn’t be on the list at all. You can’t please everyone. Please remember that while you’re complaining on social media having read this list. Otherwise, enjoy…
3: Ruben Lameiras
Currently: FC Famalicao, Primeira Liga
From damp Tuesday nights in Shrewsbury to beating Sporting Lisbon in their own backyard, Rúben Lamerias has really taken the Portuguese top flight by storm after his spell at Plymouth Argyle. To all those in Plymouth, it really is no surprise.
Lamerias arrived as part of the summer recruitment drive during Argyle’s first year returning to League One. The fact that he arrived from relegated Coventry City acted as a slight concern, as did his apparent lack of pedigree before signing on the dotted line at Home Park. A product of the Tottenham academy, a young Lamerias had little hope of breaking into the first team setup at White Hart Lane. As a result, he went on loan to Swedish side Åtvidabergs FF before departing Spurs in the search of a new home.
This new home did indeed prove to be Coventry, where he played 56 times. During his stay he won the Checkatrade Trophy, but did of course add a relegation to his CV. At that point, he jumped the seemingly sinking ship of Coventry over to the good ship Mayflower to join up with Derek Adams at Home Park. Before arriving at the club, he had just seven goals to his name in professional English football.
His first six months at Home Park at was relatively the same: unimpactful. We had seen a few signs that there was a player there in some cameo appearances – an assist against Peterborough on his debut helped, but that was about it. In truth, he was underutilised by Adams and regularly placed on the bench or in the stands. It made it impossible for Lamerias to make an impact in his early months as a Green.
Although we did see glimpses of his ability during his limited game time, the playmaker was crying out for a run in the team to gather momentum. Lamerias subsequently went on trial at fellow League One side Oldham Athletic, taking part in a behind closed doors game for the northern side. To everyone’s collective surprise, this acted as a turning point for Lamerias.
The playmaker made a return to the starting line-up the week after against, as luck would have it. Oldham. And guess what? He took the game by storm. His quick feet and ability to split a defence provided the Greens with a different weapon to their arsenal, as Lamerias and the Pilgrims cruised to victory. He kept his place in the side for the next game, assisting Gary Sawyer’s goal in a 1-0 victory over Milton Keynes. And so, the run began.
Turning the tables
Lameiras remained a regular and central figure to the starting eleven for the rest of the season, as the Pilgrims surged towards the play-off positions. His showboating style raised bums off seats as he continued to make defenders look silly, and he backed this up with a fair few fearsome strikes as he regularly found the back of the net.
Strikes against Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers instantly come to mind as Lamerias proved that his ability to do the unexpected was so vital to his game. The goal against Blackburn was sublime as he smashed the ball from the edge of the box into the roof of the net leaving the goalkeeper no chance. Perhaps if Messi, Ronaldo or a Premier League prima donna struck the ball so crisply, we’d have been talking about it for months.
Lamerias remained at Home Park the following season, and despite the Greens’ lacklustre performances, Lamerias continued to be the shining light in what was a dim and miserable year at Home Park. Reaching double figures on the goals tally, and providing a further nine assists, the Portuguesereally took the task at hand by the scruff of the neck and often looked like Argyle’s main threat throughout the season.
Eye-catching performances were frequent with a particular showing against his former side Coventry City really proving that he had what it takes to play at highest level. Finishing his Argyle career with a total of 17 goals in 75 appearences Lamerias left Home Park as a fan favourite. It’s a huge regret that Argyle’s mismanagement meant Lameiras had to gather another relegation on his CV, through no fault of his own.
Even more to come?
A tricky player with a catalogue of skills that Argos would be proud of, the winger frequently embarrassed defenders and made it look almost effortless. A fault of many tricksters is that they fail more than they succeed, and lack the required end product to ever truly be a major threat. With Lameiras, particularly at League One level, it almost seemed like the opposite was consistently true.
Rarely losing the ball and seeming to beat his man more often than not, Lamerias breezed past players like they weren’t even there with consummate ease. By the end of his time at Home Park, most of the questions being asked of him were regarding the frontman’s defensive efforts. But as we approached the end of Lamerias’ stay at Home Park, not only was it was clear to see that he wasn’t the primary man to blame for Argyle’s defensive struggles, it also became apparent that his defensive game and work rate had improved leaps and bounds.
One only need watch the games against Portsmouth and Coventry from last season to see the playmaker dart around the pitch closing the centre backs down regularly. With him becoming more and more influential as time went by, and his skills improving all the time, there was a real school of thought that Lameiras could soon play at a higher level. And so it proved.
With Argyle suffering from that relegation in 2018/19, Lamerias quite fairly turned down a contract offer to remain at Home Park in favour of a return to his native Portugal. This in the form of newly promoted top flight side Famalicão. Currently sitting fourth in the table, Lamerias and his teammates have truly adapted to life in the topflight superbly. All of those involved at Argyle cannot be surprised that he’s managed to reach such heights.
And could there be more to come? Who knows? He’s still only 25, and some may well argue his best days are yet to come. But regardless of where he ends up, he’ll always be remembered fondly at Home Park.