How the Premier League became a global playground

    Story highlights

    • English Premier League turns 25
    • First season featured no players from South America or Asia
    • Now the world's most diverse division

    (CNN)It's been dubbed the "best league in the world," but when the English Premier League kicked off 25 years ago a foreign name on the teamsheet was rare.

    In its first ever season, back in 1992/93, 71% of registered players were English and just 55 came from outside of Britain.
      By the 2007/08 campaign, that percentage of domestic players had halved, with over 350 players from 60 nations represented.
      Now, on the 25th anniversary of its inception, CNN Sport analyzes how the world's richest football league has changed the game forever, becoming the favorite destination for many of the globe's best players.


      Leeds United's Eric Cantona (left) scored the first ever Premier League hat trick in a 5-0 win over Tottenham in August 1992.
      Before the Premier League became awash with cash, some players did come from overseas but most hailed from Scandinavia -- a far cry from the global influx of today -- with Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel helping Manchester United to the title.
      The division featured 22 teams, and all were led by a British manager. Even more remarkably given the turnaround in managers these days, only one -- Chelsea's Ian Porterfield -- was sacked in that inaugural season.
      There were no players from South America, Asia, Italy or Portugal.
      The only Frenchman to take to the field that year, Eric Cantona, scored the Premier League's first ever hattrick for Leeds United.