The 10 best English football players of all time
Over the years, England has produced a number of footballing super stars. Opinions are divided about who is the best of all time. Every footballer is unique, with his own qualities and own career pathway. We have put together a list of our top 10 best English football players of all time. Many English agree with our number one pick.
10. Paul Scholes
For 20 seasons, Paul Scholes played a crucial part in the midfield of Manchester United. He was able to control the game with long and short passes, set the pace and keep possession of the ball for his team. Over his career, he won the Premier League 11 times with United and twice the Champions League. In 2012 he made a spectacular comeback and showed that he was still able to compete at the highest level at the tender age of 37.
Scholes played four international tournaments for the English national team: the World Cup 1998, the European Championship 2000, the World Cup 2002 and the European Champion 2004. After these tournaments, the 29 year old ended his career with the national team in order to focus on his club career.
9. Gary Lineker
A goal scoring machine. Gary Lineker had his break through at Leicester City and experienced his best seasons at Everton. In the 1985/1986 season he scored a total of forty times and was therefore selected as player of the year. During the World Cup in Mexico 1986 he received the golden boot, scoring 6 goals and landing him a contract at FC Barcelona. He played in Barcelona for three seasons, winning the Europe Cup II, before returning to England. At Tottenham Hotspur he resumed scoring until he ended his career in Japan with Nagoya Grampus.
In total he scored 48 goals in 80 international matches. After his active career the former striker made a career as a presenter and analyst for the BBC programme Match of the Day.
8. Kevin Keegan
In the 1970s, Kevin Keegan caused a furore in the Liverpool shirt. As the attacking leader of the team, he had a large share in winning prizes: three times the championship, twice the UEFA Cup and once the European Cup I. At Hamburger SV he won the German championship and in 1978 and 1979 he was selected as European footballer of the year. Winning this prize twice in a row shows how far ahead Keegan was in comparison to other football players at the time.
Keegan was captain of the English national team and played at the 1980 European Championship and the World Cup of 1982. In total he played 63 international games and scored 21 times.
7. Bobby Moore
Bobby Moore was the captain of the English national team that won the 1966 World Cup. As a defender he played a strong tournament and in the final against West-Germany he gave two assists to Geoff Hurst, with whom he played at West Ham United. In London, near Boleyn Ground, there is a stature of the players who helped England win the only world cup title ever. In 2007 a statue of Moore was also unveiled at the new Wembley stadium.
Moore played a total of 108 international games for England. Four years after the successful World Cup of 1966, he made left such an impression on Pelé in 1970 that the Brazilian named him as the best defender he has ever met. Moore died at the age of 51. Pelé spoke at his funeral.
6. David Beckham
Few footballers are as blessed with their shooting abilities as David Beckham. The former midfielder of Manchester United and Real Madrid was able to accurately deliver the ball to teammates over long distances. The free kick specialist started his career at Manchester United with whom he won the treble in 1999. After that, Beckham became a world icon for football, winning titles in England, Spain, America and France.
In total, Beckham made 115 appearances for the English national team. Only Peter Shilton and Wayne Rooney have more appearances for England. In 2002, Beckham personally secured England a spot in the European Championships of 2002. Against Greece he scored a last minute free kick goal, making up for the red card he had been given against Argentina in the last World Cup.
5. Steven Gerrard
A versatile midfielder, who for years wore the captain’s armband at Liverpool and the national team. In 2005 Steven Gerrard was named UEFA player of the year after he had won the Champions League with Liverpool in an exhilarating final. Gerrard was a box-to-box player with many qualities, both a ball conqueror and a play maker. He was voted into the English team of the year (PFA Team of the Year) eight times and named to UEFA’s and FIFA’s team of the year three times.
Gerrard played for England between 2000 and 2014, making 114 appearances for the three Lions. He was part of the teams that played in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups and the European Championship in 2012.
4. Frank Lampard
In the thirteen years that he played in the midfield for Chelsea, Frank Lampard scored so many goals that he is now known as the top scorer of the club of all times. The current coach of the Blues grew up at West Ham, but developed into an all-round midfielder at Chelsea, who could be decisive due to his endurance and strong scoring ability. With the London club, Lampard won the Premier League three times, the Champions League once and the Europa League. In 2004 and 2005 he was chosen as the Premier League player of the year and in 2008 he was named European midfielder of the year.
Together with Steven Gerrard, Lampard formed the best midfield in England for many years. After his debut in 1999, he played in 106 international games. To the disappointment of the English fans, the generation of Lampard, Gerrard and Beckham never won a prize, despite being a group of talented players.
3. Alan Shearer
Alan Shearer can proudly call himself the top scorer of the Premier League of all times. The former attacker scored for the Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle and played in 260 games in the highest English league. Shearer is characterizes as a classic English centre-striker: physically strong and a hard shot and throbbing power. In total he scored for Newcastle 49 times with his head. Shearer never won a national title, but was named top scorer of the Premier League three times. He also scored the most hattricks in the Premier League: 11.
On a international level he also found the back of the net a lot. In 63 international goals, he scored 30 times.
2. Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney also put his name into the history books. With 253 goals he is the leading scorer at Manchester United, 4 goals above Sir Bobby Charlton. Additionally, Rooney is second in the all time leading scoring list of the Premier League (183 goals) and third on the list for the leading assists in the Premier League (103 assists). As a strong leader, Rooney was praised for his dedication and drive, apart from his goals. In the thirteen years that he was active with The Reds, he won five league titles, the Champions League, the Europa League and several individual prizes, including the best player in England four times.
Rooney isn’t just the leading goal scorer at Manchester United, he also holds this title at the national team. In the 120 international games he played for England, he scored 53 goals.
1. Sir Bobby Charlton
Before Wayne Rooney took over his titles, Sir Bobby Charlton was the top scorer of Manchester United and England. The attacker survived the Munich Air Disaster with the Manchester United team in 1958, won the championship three times with the club and raised the European Cup as the captain of the team. Ten years after the Munich Air Disaster, the famous dribbler scored twice in the final against Benfica.
In 1966 Sir Bobby Charlton was part of the team that won the 1966 World Cup. He made an important contribution by scoring both goals in the semi-final against Portugal. Because of his performance at the tournament, he was awarded the Golden Ball. He became the only Englishman to win the three biggest prizes in football: the World Cup, the European Cup and the Golden Ball.
In 1994 Bobby Charlton was knighted for his merits. Many English football fans agree: Sir Bobby Charlton is the best English footballer of all times.
Do you want to see the current English stars play? Take a look at our selection of football trips to England here.