The 10 Best English Players in History

Best English Players in History: The concept of modern football, as we know it today, originated in 19th-century England among the working class. Initially, it was a variation of rugby with a rounder ball and lacked clear strategies or regulations. However, with time, the sport gained popularity in the country and underwent significant developments.

Best English Players in History

In recognition of this, we have compiled a list of 12 English footballers who have had a profound impact on the sport in their respective eras. By ranking these historical figures, we aim to determine the best player in the history of England.

12. David Beckham

  • Full Name: David Robert Joseph Beckham
  • Born: 2 May 1975 (age 48)
  • Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

We begin this ranking with one of the most iconic figures in football history, David Beckham. Known for his global celebrity status, Beckham made a significant impact during his successful spells at Manchester United and, to a lesser extent, Real Madrid.

However, Beckham’s influence on English football cannot be underestimated. He holds a prominent place in the history of the England national team, being the third player with the highest number of appearances for the Three Lions. Beckham played 115 games with the senior team, leaving an indelible mark on the international stage.

Career Stats With England:

YEARMATCHESGOALS
1996–200911517

11. Tom Finney

  • Full Name: Thomas Finney
  • Date of Birth: 5 April 1922
  • Position(s): Winger and centre-forward

Tom Finney, one of the standout English players of the 1950s, was known for his exceptional dribbling skills and versatility. He was capable of playing both as a central striker and on the wings.

Throughout his entire career from 1946 to 1960, Finney remained loyal to Preston North End, the club he represented. He played an impressive 433 games and scored 187 goals for his beloved club. His unwavering commitment to Preston North End earned him legendary status among fans and in the local community.

Finney also made significant contributions to the England national team, participating in three World Cup tournaments in 1950, 1954, and 1958. In total, he played 76 matches for the national team, scoring 30 goals. His goal-scoring prowess placed him among the top scorers in the history of the England national team.

Career Stats With England:

YEARMATCHESGOALS
1946–1958 7630

Honours At England:

British Home Championship1946–47, 1947–48, 1949–50, 1951–52, 1952–53, 1953–54, 1955–56, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1958–59

10. Jimmy Greaves

  • Full Name: James Peter Greaves
  • Date of Birth: 20 February 1940
  • Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
  • Position(s): Striker

Jimmy Greaves, a former England international footballer, was known for his role as a striker. He holds several impressive records, including being England’s fourth-highest international goalscorer with 44 goals, Tottenham’s leading goalscorer with 266 goals, and the all-time leading goalscorer in English football with 357 goals. Throughout his career, he finished as the top scorer in the Premier League on six occasions.

Greaves began his professional career at Chelsea in 1957, where he spent four seasons and scored an impressive 124 goals. After a brief period at AC Milan, he returned to England and joined Tottenham. With the Spurs, he won two FA Cups and a Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963.

In the 1966 World Cup, Greaves participated but unfortunately suffered an injury during the group stage. As a result, he lost his starting position to Geoff Hurst and did not play in the final. Greaves was renowned for his exceptional dribbling skills and goal-scoring ability. His speed, positioning, and composed finishing allowed him to score goals at any given moment.

Career Stats With England:

YEARMATCHESGOALS
1959–19675744

Honours At England:

FIFA World Cup1966
British Home Championship1959–60, 1960–61, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1965–66

9. Frank Lampard

  • Full Name: Frank James Lampard
  • Date of Birth: 20 June 1978 (age 44)
  • Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.84 m)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

The current manager of Chelsea, Frank Lampard, is also regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of English football. Despite starting his career at West Ham United’s youth system, he truly made a name for himself during his time at Chelsea.

During his tenure with the Blues, Lampard achieved significant success, winning the Premier League title on three occasions and experiencing the joy of winning the UEFA Champions League in 2012. Furthermore, Lampard holds the record for being the top scorer in the history of Chelsea Football Club.

However, Lampard recently faced dismissal as the coach of Chelsea following a disappointing first half of the season. Despite his departure, he remains an idol at Stamford Bridge, and it is not out of the question that he may have another opportunity to manage the team in the future.

Career Stats With England:

YEARMATCHESGOALS
1999–201410629

8. Gary Lineker

  • Birth Name: Gary Winston Lineker
  • Date of Birth: 30 November 1960 (age 62)
  • Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.77 m)
  • Position(s): Striker

Gary Lineker is considered one of the greatest goal-scorers in the history of the England national team. He is currently ranked third in terms of all-time goal scorers, with Wayne Rooney and Bobby Charlton ahead of him.

Lineker was known for his agility and relied on his technical skills to score goals. He had a remarkable ability to position himself well and deceive defenders, earning him the nickname ‘El Matador’ during his time at Barcelona.

Throughout his career, Lineker scored a total of 281 goals in 567 appearances. He also holds the record for the most goals scored by an English player in the World Cup, with 10 goals. Additionally, Lineker received the FIFA Fair Play Award in 1990 for his remarkable achievement of never receiving a card throughout his entire career.

Career Stats With England:

YEARMATCHESGOALS
1984–19928048

Honours At England:

FIFA World Cup Fourth Place: 1990

7. Steven Gerrard

  • Full Name: Steven George Gerrard
  • Date of Birth: 30 May 1980 (age 42)
  • Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

It is undoubtedly impossible to discuss the greatest players in the history of England without mentioning Steven Gerrard. The legendary captain of Liverpool is revered as a living legend in the Premier League and holds the distinction of being the fourth-highest capped player in the history of the England national team, with 114 appearances.

While it is a regrettable fact that Gerrard never won a Premier League title, he experienced the glory of lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy. He is also regarded as an iconic figure at Anfield, leaving an indelible mark as a true legend of the club.

Career Stats With England:

YEARMATCHESGOALS
2000–201411421

6. Alan Shearer

  • Born: 13 August 1970 (age 52)
  • Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
  • Position(s): Striker

Alan Shearer was a famous English striker known for his ability to score goals in any situation. He was tall and strong, making him a constant threat in the air. His talent was evident as he scored an impressive 46 headers out of his total of 260 goals in the Premier League.

Shearer rose to prominence when he led Blackburn to win the Premier League title in 1995. His remarkable goal-scoring abilities earned him numerous awards, including a third-place finish in the 1996 Ballon d’Or, which recognizes the best player in the world.

At Newcastle United, Shearer became the club’s all-time leading goal scorer, with an impressive tally of 204 goals. His goal-scoring prowess also earned him the Premier League Golden Boot award three times, which is given to the league’s top goal scorer. Shearer also excelled while representing England, and he became one of the highest-scoring players in the history of the UEFA European Championship.

Career Stats With England:

YEARMATCHESGOALS
1992–20006330

Honours At England:

Tournoi de France1997

5. Paul Scholes

  • Full Name: Paul Scholes
  • Date of Birth: 16 November 1974 (age 48)
  • Height: 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

Paul Scholes was a player who, during his active career, was often underrated. However, as time has passed, it has become evident that he was a key figure in Manchester United’s unprecedented success under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Scholes achieved remarkable success with the Red Devils, playing a vital role in every triumph of the club. His impressive trophy collection includes 11 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 7 Community Shields, 3 League Cups, 2 UEFA Champions League titles, 1 Club World Cup, and 1 Intercontinental Cup.

One unforgettable moment etched in memory is Scholes’ superb goal against FC Barcelona in the 2007/08 season, which eliminated the Spanish club from the competition. Manchester United went on to win the Champions League that season, defeating Chelsea in a thrilling penalty shootout to claim the title. Scholes’ contribution was invaluable throughout that successful campaign.

Career Stats With England:

YEARMATCHESGOALS
1997–20046614

4. Stanley Matthews

  • Full Name: Stanley Matthews
  • Date of Birth: 1 February 1915
  • Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
  • Position(s): Outside right

Sir Stanley Matthews is undeniably one of the greatest English players of all time, known for his incredible longevity in the sport. Despite not having the most impressive list of accolades, his career spanned an astonishing 34 years, from 1931 to 1965. In fact, he was voted as the best player in the league in 1963 at the remarkable age of 48.

Having played 19 seasons for Stoke City and 14 seasons for Blackpool, Matthews retired from professional football at the age of 50. He was renowned for his exceptional dribbling skills, earning him the nickname “The Wizard of the Dribble.” Matthews is also included in our list of the top 10 greatest dribblers in history. Additionally, he had a strong reputation as a skilled passer while playing as a right winger for his clubs and the national team.

Despite football often being considered a tough and physical sport, Sir Stanley Matthews stood out as a true gentleman of the game. He holds the rare distinction of never receiving a card throughout his entire career. Moreover, Matthews achieved immortality in football history as the first-ever winner of the Ballon d’Or award.

Career Stats With England:

YEARMATCHESGOALS
1934–19575411

Honours At England:

British Home Championship1935, 1938, 1939, 1947, 1948, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957

3. Wayne Rooney

  • Full Name: Wayne Mark Rooney
  • Date of Birth: 24 October 1985 (age 37)
  • Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.76 m)
  • Position(s): Forward, Midfielder

Wayne Rooney secures the third position in our ranking, making him one of the best players in the history of England. Born in Liverpool, Rooney began his football journey in the youth squad of Everton but is renowned as a Manchester United legend.

During his impressive tenure of over 10 years at Manchester United, Rooney became the club’s all-time leading goal scorer. At the national team level, he also holds the record for the most goals scored for the England national team, finding the back of the net 53 times in 120 games. This achievement places him as the second player with the most appearances in the history of the national team.

Rooney’s success with Manchester United is remarkable, having won five Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League, a Club World Cup, and numerous other domestic honors. Currently, he serves as the coach of Derby County in the English football’s second-tier league.

Career Stats With England:

YEARMATCHESGOALS
2003–201812053

2. Bobby Moore

  • Full Name: Robert Frederick Chelsea Moore
  • Date of Birth: 12 April 1941
  • Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
  • Position(s): Defender

The silver medal in our ranking goes to Bobby Moore, the legendary captain of the English team that won the world championship in 1966. He, is the former West Ham United defender, holds a special place in the hearts of English football fans. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest English players ever. Moore achieved a remarkable feat by captaining England to their World Cup victory in 1966, a distinction that sets him apart from others.

His talent and impact were recognized nationally when he was named Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association in 1964, primarily due to his outstanding performances with West Ham. Additionally, Moore is included in our list of the top 10 greatest central defenders in history, highlighting his exceptional skills and contributions.

Despite being diagnosed with cancer two years prior to the World Cup triumph, Moore’s game never suffered. He faced various personal challenges off the field, but once he overcame them, he became an unstoppable force and cemented his status as the greatest defender in English history.

Career Stats With England:

YEARMATCHESGOALS
1962–1973 England 108 (2)1082

Honours At England:

FIFA World Cup 1966
UEFA Euro Third Place 1968
British Home Championship1964–65, 1965–66, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1970–71, 1972–73

1. Sir Bobby Charlton

  • Full Name: Robert Charlton
  • Date of Birth: 11 October 1937 (age 85)
  • Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
  • Position(s): Midfielder, Forward

In our opinion, the greatest player in the history of England is Sir Bobby Charlton. He was an iconic striker who formed a highly successful trio with George Best from Northern Ireland and Denis Law from Scotland.

Charlton is a living legend in football, renowned for his performances at Manchester United and the English national team. He held the record for the most goals scored for both his club and the national team until Wayne Rooney surpassed him, a feat that Charlton himself acknowledged and recognized. He is widely regarded as one of the best players in the history of the sport.

Despite facing a potential end to his career due to the tragic Munich air disaster, Charlton persevered and became one of the key players in Matt Busby’s Manchester United, being one of the few survivors of the tragedy. He also played a crucial role in leading England to their only international title, the World Cup in 1966.

Unfortunately, it has been confirmed recently that Charlton is suffering from dementia, which is believed to be a result of the frequent head collisions he experienced during his playing days with the heavy soccer balls of that time.

Career Stats With England:

YEARMATCHESGOALS
1958–1970106(49)

Honours At England:

FIFA World Cup1966
UEFA European Championship Third Place: 1968
British Home Championship1961, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1964, 1970

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