When we are looking at players who have lit up the European football world, it will not be far – fetched to look towards England. True, as hard as they might be trying, they have not been able to replicate the kind of performance that won them the World Cup in 1966 – but it will also be a shame to look beyond all their proficiency just because of that single deficiency. Over the years, England has produced a lot of players who can easily look back at their performance, beat their chests, and say proudly that they really “came, saw, and conquered”
It is true that they have not won the World Cup in a while but performance-wise, they have been able to compete with their contemporaries and to some extent, have been able to show glimpses of brilliance, especially individually.
Last time out too, they got to the semi-final of the world cup, eventually losing the third-place match to a brilliant Belgium side. That is to show the rate at which they have really tried to sharpen their chances of winning the World Cup.
Furthermore, an all – English – team European competition finals last time out proved we have a lot of talents from the English football world. You may argue that the teams were not entirely English, but Tottenham can boast of, at least, six to seven English players in their team that went to that Champions League final last season, and Liverpool can boast of about seven or eight.
What about the two teams in the Europa League final – it appears there is but one if there is none at all. But all in all, England players featured heavily in the teams in the Champions League final. That shows how deep the England team is. But are the recent crops of players the best English players ever? That is what this piece is willing to shed a light on:
- Duncan Edwards
Despite being just 21 years old before his death in the tragic Munich air crash, he had been a regular starter in the Manchester United team of the 50s for over four years.
He played under the United Manager, Matt Busby, in the young United team known as the Busby Babes. He managed about 151 appearances for the Red Devils scoring 20 goals and 18 appearances for the three lions, scoring 5 goals.
It is not sure how good he’ll have been, had he not died so young, but people who played with him, or that had close contact with his playing days rated him highly, which made a case for him being on this list.
He was the youngest player to ever play in the Football League First Division, and during his time, the youngest England player. He won two Football League Championship titles with United, two FA Charity Shields, and got to the European Cup semi-final
- Gary Lineker
This is another wonderful striker, who started his football career at Leicester City in 1978. After his stint with Leicester, he moved to Everton where he scored 30 goals in 41 games. His success in football started at Barcelona when he won the Copa Del Rey with them in 1988 and the European Cup Winners’ in 1989 before coming back to England with Tottenham Hotspur.
With the Lilywhites, he won the 1991 FA Cup and the FA Charity Shield, also in 1991. He started his England career in 1984, making 80 appearances and scoring 48 goals. He is England’s third-highest goalscorer, only behind Bobby Charlton and Wayne Rooney.
At club level, he scored 30 goals in 41 appearances at Everton, 42 goals in 103 appearances at Barcelona, and 67 goals in 105 games at Tottenham Hotspur. His place on this list of the top English legends is a well-deserved one.
- Billy Wright
The next English football legend on the list is the famous Billy Wright. He is the first footballer to earn 100 appearances for his national team. He also holds the record for the longest unbroken run in a competitive international football.
He was actually a central defender, who played his entire club career with Wolverhampton Wanderers. He made his debut in 1939, but it was not recorded as his official debut because the match was played during war times. His official debut was put at a match against Lovells Athletic in the 1945/46 FA Cup.
He captained Wolves to their three First Division titles in 1954, 58 and 59, and also won the FA Cup with them in 1949. He retired in 1959 after making around 541 appearances for the club.
His England debut came on 19 January 1946, although his full debut was to come at a later date, 28 September 1946. He was made captain in 1948, and he went on to captain the team for a record 90 times (a record he shared with Bobby Moore). He made a total of 105 appearances for England, scoring 3 goals.
- Bryan Robson
This is another England player who had managed to carve a niche for himself by having racking records upon records. First, he is on fifth on the most appearance list with 90 appearances. He also placed eighth on the goal-scoring tally with 26.
He is also third, behind Bobby Moore and Billy Wright on the most times captaining the team with 65 times. He began his football career with West Bromwich Albion in 1972 before he moved to Manchester United in 1972, where he had a very glistering career.
At United, he won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two FA Charity Shield, and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991. In August 2011, Bryan Robson was named the greatest ever player to play for United. He made 90 appearances for England and he scored 26 goals in his exploits in the international scene.
- Steven Gerrard
Gerrard played most of his football career with Liverpool, and most of the time, as the club captain. He joined the club’s Youth Academy when he was 9 and signed his first professional contract with them when he was 17. He made his debut in 1998. In 2000/01, Gerrard won a treble of the League Cup, UEFA Cup and the FA Cup with Liverpool and he was made club captain in 2003.
Known as Liverpool’s greatest ever player, Gerrard won a total of two FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Cup, one FA Community Shield, and one UEFA Super Cup from his time at Anfield. He also made a total of 504 appearances for the club, scoring 120 goals.
He later went to LA Galaxy in the Major League Soccer, but only stayed on for a year. He had only 34 appearances for Galaxy, scoring 5 goals. On the international scene, Gerrard made a total of 114 appearances for the three lions and scored 21 goals.
- Alan Shearer
Talk of an England player who can score goals at will, whose goal-scoring exploits in the English top-flight is not broken to date, then Alan Shearer’s name comes to mind.
Shearer had his debut in English top-flight for Southampton on 26 March 1988, and two weeks later, at his full debut, he had all newspapers talking about him – as he scored a hat – trick against Arsenal, making him the youngest player to score a hat – trick in the top division at the age of 17 years and 240 days.
After his exploits at Soton had given him a nationwide recognition, he moved to Blackburn Rovers in a record-breaking transfer of £3.6 million. He won the Premier League with Blackburn in the 1994/95 season, scoring 112 goals in 138 appearances for the Rovers.
He moved to Newcastle United in 1996, where he scored 148 times in 303 appearances. He made his international debut in 1990, going on to score 30 goals in 63 appearances for the three lions
- David Beckham
Here’s another name that many would have been expecting to find on the list. Becks, as he is fondly called, is the first English player to win league titles in four different countries: England, Spain, the United States, and France.
He made his English Premier League debut with Manchester United in 1992, where he won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the 1999 UEFA Champions League. After this, he went to Spain with Real Madrid, where he made 116 appearances, scoring 13 goals. He went to LA Galaxy in the Major League Soccer, where he made 98 appearances and scored 18 goals.
During his time at LA Galaxy, he spent a two – year loan with AC Milan, where he had a total of 29 appearances and 2 goals before heading to France with PSG. In all, his club appearances stood at a total of 523 appearances and 97 goals. He had his Three Lions debut on September 1, 1996. He went on to represent them 115 times, scoring 17 goals.
- Wayne Rooney
Rooney is one of two English players to win the Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, League Cup, UEFA Europa League, and FIFA Club World Cup. The other player is Michael Carrick. He has won every club honors available in English, European, and Continental competitions. The UEFA Super Cup is the only trophy that is still eluding him.
Rooney started his professional career with Everton in 2002, where he spent two seasons. He appeared in 67 matches for them and scoring 15 goals. He moved to Manchester United in 2004 in a deal worth around £25.6 million. He won 16 trophies at Old Trafford, which includes five Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the Champions League.
He scored 208 Premier League goals to place second only behind Alan Shearer on the all-time Premier League goalscorers’ list. He made his England debut in February 2003, where he scored 53 goals in 120 appearances.
- Bobby Moore
Bobby Moore is a legend that will always remain in the hearts of English football fans. Moore started his football career with West Ham United. He played over 600 games in a 16 – year tenure. He won the FA Cup, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup with West Ham United.
During his time at West Ham, he won the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1964 and West Ham Player of the Season four times in 1961, 63, 68 and 70. The most glittering part of his career came up during his time with the national team.
He was made the England captain in 1964, and he went on to win the World Cup trophy in 1966. He played 544 matches at West Ham, scoring 24 goals, 124 appearances for Fulham and scored 1 goal among other club appearances. He played for England 108 times and scored 2 goals.
- Sir Bobby Charlton
We conclude the list with the inclusion of the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton. One of the greatest footballers of all time and England’s best player. He was a member of the team that won the 1966 World Cup and he won the Ballon d’Or in that same year.
He started his football career with United in 1956, where he won 3 Football League First Division, 1 FA Cup, 4 Charity Cups, 1 European Cup and 3 FA Youth Cups. He made 606 appearances at United, finding the back of the net 199 times.
He started his international journey on April 19, 1958, and he had a total of 106 appearances for the Three Lions and scored 49 goals during his time with the team. He is, without doubt, the greatest football talent England has witnessed in its long and illustrious history.