Comparing the Premier League now to how it looked when it was launched in 1992 and you would come across aspects that are totally unrecognisable today.
Typical examples would include all-seater stadiums still being developed no names on the back of shirts and not even a strict use of Premier League football.
But the evolution doesn’t stop on the pitch and has stretched into video games too, with player likeness having drastically improved over the years as research, technology and an ease to update games make creating player likeness as easy as ever.
It doesn’t always go to plan though. While even the early days of the PlayStation was a tough era to get a player’s appearance spot on, there were still laughable finished products.
By the same token it seems unthinkable that a well known player could be unrecognisable in a video game today but as you will see it’s still almost inexplicably possible as Sportsmail looks at the worst player faces over the years from the most popular football games of the era in the FIFA and PES franchises.
This player would go on to become a superstar for club and country, building on early hype
Now he can’t go anywhere on the globe without perhaps at least one fan being able to spot him inside five minutes especially since winning the World Cup.
But that’s the sort of fame and attention that comes when from an emerging teenage talent you go on to establish yourself as one of the best ever footballers over the space of nearly two decades at one of the world’s most famous clubs.
From as early as 2003 there was already hype around football connoisseurs about a certain young Argentine making waves in the Barcelona youth ranks.
And the excitement continued to build right up until Lionel Messi’s first team debut for the club during the 2004-05 season.
Ten Spanish league titles, four Champions League trophies, a French league title with current team Paris Saint-Germain have followed since, while he also has a full international set with Argentina after winning the World Cup last year and the South American championship, the Copa America, a year before.
Yet even after breaking into the Barca first-team, he was still unknown in the video game world and especially in the FIFA 2006 games based on the 2005-06 season.
It may have been the year Messi started to show his ability on the continent as he helped Barcelona win the Champions League after defeating Arsenal in the final, but in the game it seemed only his early career longer locks bare any resemblance to the man who recently was named the best men’s football player in the world at the FIFA awards for the second time in his career.
Lionel Messi emerged as a superstar at Barcelona and is now playing for Paris Saint-Germain
This player would become a mega star at Manchester United after a relatively low-key start
It took just one pre-season game for Manchester United players to be convinced of this star’s talent.
And although he made a relatively low-key start for the Red Devils the excitement that emitted from Sir Alex Ferguson’s first team stars was purely justified.
Not only did he become an established club legend before departing but he would go on to become one of, if not, the greatest players in the world.
Some might even suggest Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest player of all time still despite Messi’s recent success and his own bitter exit from an unhappy second spell at United that came to an end following an incredible attack on the club during a bombshell interview with Piers Morgan in November just over a year after his return.
Yet it’s the first spell at Old Trafford many will remember the Portuguese maestro for between 2003 and 2009 where he arrived with lots of hype and potential having been signed off the back of an incredible performance against United during a pre-season clash for Sporting Lisbon.
He may have gone on to win three Premier League titles and a Champions League with United but his signing was not quick enough to make the FIFA games aware of who he was – at least judging by his appearance.
Looking at his appearance from from FIFA 2004, there is barely any resemblance at all but it could be down to him being given one of the default faces for the lesser known players featured in the game.
Cristiano Ronaldo would become a mega star at United in his first spell (left) but made a bitter exit from the club 2022 during his second spell after a controversial Piers Morgan interview
Despite Tottenham being a licensed team on PES 2008 this star was still unrecognisable
One of the most exciting talents of his generation and there were plenty of Premier League clubs fighting for his signature before signing for one of them in 2007.
The battle to secure his talent would in the end be won by Tottenham Hotspur where he would go on to become a club legend.
But like Ronaldo at United it took a couple of years to properly settle into the first-team before he left in a world record £86million transfer to Real Madrid in 2013.
We are of course talking about Wales legend Gareth Bale although you wouldn’t have guessed it looking at his profile from the PES 2008 game.
Spurs were one of two licensed Premier League sides on the game yet even despite his early hype at Southampton wasn’t one of the players whose physical appearance was of much concern it seems.
Gareth Bale eventually became a Tottenham and Wales legend after joining from Southampton
This star made an immediate splash in the top flight with Everton before becoming a legend
‘Remember the name’ a famous commentator quipped after he scored a landmark winner to grab his first Premier League goals for the club.
Granted, there was already lots of excitement about this English striker’s talents and the 17-year-old’s ability was being highly spoken about outside of his boyhood club Everton.
By the end of the season, the cat was well and truly out of the bag and he was already on the path to become one of England’s greatest players.
However, even with a year to prepare it seems the creators behind FIFA 2004 didn’t quite get Wayne Rooney’s appearance for his final season at Everton.
Granted it may not be as bad as many others on this list but for a player who would go on to become a Manchester United superstar and England’s greatest goal scorer, did Rooney really deserve to be given blonde highlights for his first FIFA game?
Wayne Rooney was a breakout star at Everton before his future success with Manchester United and the England team where with both he would become a legendary goal scorer
This manager is finally on the road to glory with his current Premier League club
Shifting gears now and to the point where football games have started creating manager appearances in annual releases too.
This Spaniard’s methods are proving to be well above his peers and having being given time to settle in the role is now on course to silence his critics once and for all.
And who knows, with a bit of luck maybe on EA Sports’ next annual release they may get his appearance correct after this woeful effort on FIFA 23.
After all they will have no excuse if Mikel Arteta can pull off the previously unthinkable and guide Arsenal to their first Premier League title since 2004.
But even if he doesn’t it seems beyond explicable that Arteta who has appeared on many FIFA games as an Arsenal player given his spell in north London between 2011 and 2016 cannot be given a resemblance that even looks at least a little like him – since when has he ever had that much facial hair in recent times?!
The fact he has been manager since 2019 means he is hardly an unknown at managerial level too.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta looks much different from his screenshots displayed in FIFA 23
A two-time Premier League winner had his looks drastically altered on video game PES 2014
We get it, a company cannot spend all of its time and resources trying to perfect each player’s appearance in a football game.
But for some players – especially ones that have won two Premier League titles and played for the biggest clubs in the country – at least a casual look at one photo of him in real life may have been worth it before trying to recreate a likeness.
There was simply no good reason for making a well known defensive star in Kolo Toure look as terrible as he does in PES 2014. Nothing looks like him at all but the slicked back hair? It’s enough to keep you guessing all day long that it’s any other player but him.
By this point in his career he had already been a key defender in Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ side of 2003-04 as well as helping Manchester City win the English top flight in 2012.
He is pictured in the Konami game playing for Liverpool in this first season at the club where he would make 24 appearances.
Probably the only thing worse looking than the attempt to create Toure was the depiction of the Liverpool badge – although Konami can at least be forgiven for not having the club’s licence here.
Kolo Toure was already a Premier League star before joining Liverpool for the 2013-14 season
Despite featuring in the Euro 2000 game, this England star didn’t make the tournament
This feels especially harsh given how notoriously difficult it was to create a player’s exact likeness based on the graphical capabilities of the original PlayStation.
Yet, we are pretty confident this may be one of the most bizarre looking appearances of a former England international and Premier League star.
It doesn’t come from one of EA Sports’ FIFA titles but from a sister production using the same game engine in the official Euro 2000 video game.
Yet there is no point looking through England’s Euro 2000 squad to see if you can find Jamie Redknapp – because he didn’t even feature at the tournament!
The former Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur star was part of Kevin Keegan’s plans heading into the competition but was unavailable due to an injury. It would bring an end to his England career where he picked up 17 caps between 1995 and 1999.
Given how he is depicted in the game, Redknapp would probably have hoped to be left out of that as well.
Jamie Redknapp won 17 caps between 1995 and 1999 scoring one goal during that time
This Manchester United forward’s looks leave much to be desired in the FIFA 23 videogame
By process of elimination you may be able to get who this Manchester United player by his likeness in the FIFA 23 game, but it should be a lot easier than that.
The forward has had a mixed first season at Old Trafford but while fans have been divided by his impact on the pitch they are perhaps united in the suggestion his video game looks are in need of most improvement.
It’s hardly like Antony is a minor player at Old Trafford either, but while his blond hair is fairly represented there appears little resembling his facial features compared to his real life look.
The Brazil international arrived from Ajax in the summer for around £85million having previously impressed at Ajax under current Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag.
So far he has made 26 appearances for the Red Devils and scored six goals.
Antony has endured a mixed start to his Manchester United career after arriving from Ajax
Trying to guess this Liverpool player by his bald head in FIFA 23 may be misleading
A clanger so big that EA Sports were forced to quickly release an update to the FIFA 23 game to alter this Liverpool’s striker’s image.
Quite what they were thinking in the first place is anyone’s guess but if you were trying to think his bald head might have been a clue then you were heading into an entirely wrong direction.
In fact the most distinguishable feature about the club’s £85million summer signing from Benfica is his pulled back hair and ponytail.
If perhaps that aspect was included to Darwin Nunez’s image on the game he may have become a lot easier to identify with his facial imagery largely similar enough despite also not featuring any facial hair.
Nunez has had a tough start to life at Anfield following a series of missed chances but is getting up to speed on Merseyside where he has netted 12 goals in 29 games.
Darwin Nunez is starting to find his feet at Liverpool after joining for £85million in the summer
PES 6 were slightly clumsy when trying to recreate the appearance of this former France star
We have already seen how even the most established Premier League and international stars can have their looks butchered by video games.
So perhaps PES 6 can perhaps be cut a little slack for at least trying to create an original face for this French maestro during his spell with Turkish side Galatasaray.
At this point in his career, he was not well known in the UK either but he would go on to become one of the world’s best midfielders during a career that only ended last year.
It is of course Franck Ribery who would go on to become a Bayern Munich legend across 12 years at the club after joining in 2007, while also picking up 81 caps for Les Bleus.
The final twist to his image from the 2005-06 season is that Ribery never ended up playing for the club that year, sealing a move to Marseille in his homeland in the summer of 2005.
Frank Ribery was depicted as playing for Galatasaray in the game but left for Marseille