The 20 Best Manchester United Players of All Time

Best Manchester United Players of All Time: We’re continuing our series on Manchester United’s top achievements, focusing on the best players in the club’s history. Manchester United, founded in 1878 as Newton Heath, has a remarkable record with 20 English championships, 12 FA Cup wins, and 3 Champions League victories.

Throughout the years, from the legendary “Busby Babes” era to the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson, many outstanding players have contributed to the club’s success. These players played a crucial role in making Manchester United the esteemed club it is today.

Best Manchester United Players of All Time

Now, let’s take a look at the 20 best Manchester United players of all time.

1. Ryan Giggs

  • Date of Birth: 29 November 1973
  • Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.79 m)
  • Position(s): Wide midfielder

Ryan Giggs, a versatile midfielder, is considered the best Manchester United player ever. Spending his entire career at the club, he excelled on the left side with speed and dribbling. Known for extraordinary passing and goal-scoring, Giggs won 13 championships, 4 FA Cups, and 2 Champions League titles with the Red Devils.

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Remarkably fair play, he played 963 matches over 24 seasons without a red card. While his international career with Wales lacked major tournament success, his legacy is firmly established as one of Manchester United’s greatest.

2. Eric Cantona

  • Date of Birth: 24 May 1966
  • Height: 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)
  • Position(s): Forward

Eric Cantona, ranked second among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time,” is a legendary figure in the club’s history. Known for his exceptional technical skills, he was a powerful and aggressive player, excelling as both a scorer and a crucial passer.

Best French Forward of all time
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Cantona won four league titles and two FA Cups with Manchester United, earning the nickname “Eric the King.” While his international career with France had mixed results, he remains widely considered one of the best French players of all time.

3. George Best

  • Date of Birth: 22 May 1946
  • Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
  • Position(s): Winger, attacking midfielder

Ranked third among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is George Best, a legendary striker known for his creativity, agility, and exceptional dribbling skills. Starting his career with Manchester United at 17, Best played a crucial role in winning the league in 1965 and 1967 and the Champions League in 1968.

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He was the league’s top scorer that season and received the Ballon d’Or. Despite not leading Northern Ireland to major international competitions, Best is celebrated as the best player in his country’s history and an iconic figure in Manchester United’s legacy.

4. Bobby Charlton

  • Date of Birth: 11 October 1937
  • Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
  • Position(s): Midfielder, Forward

Ranked fourth among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is Bobby Charlton, an English football legend. Known for his playmaking skills, powerful low-to-the-ground strikes, and the iconic diving ball move, Charlton spent nearly his entire career with Manchester United.

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Despite the Munich air crash tragedy, he played a key role in the club’s reconstruction, winning three league titles, an FA Cup, and the 1968 Champions League. Charlton was a crucial part of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team and received the Ballon d’Or the same year for his exceptional performances.

5. Cristiano Ronaldo

  • Date of Birth: 5 February 1985
  • Height: 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)
  • Position(s): Forward

Ranked fifth among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is Cristiano Ronaldo, a 21st-century football icon. Known for his exceptional work ethic and professionalism, CR7’s precise goal-scoring and strategic positioning have made him one of the best in history.

Best Footballers in the World in 2024
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Joining Manchester United in 2003, he quickly became a key player, winning three Premier League titles, an FA Cup, and the Champions League. After successful years with Real Madrid, Ronaldo returned to Manchester United in 2021. Internationally, he’s a Portuguese legend, holding records for most caps and goals. Ronaldo led Portugal to victory at Euro 2016, marking him as one of the greatest Portuguese players of all time.

6. Paul Scholes

  • Date of Birth: 16 November 1974
  • Height: 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

Ranked sixth among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is Paul Scholes. Known for his versatility and hard work, Scholes, a loyal player trained at Manchester United, boasts an impressive record with 11 English championship titles, 3 FA Cups, and two Champions League victories.

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With 718 matches, he’s the third most-capped player in the club’s history. Scholes also represented England in two World Cups and two Euros, earning recognition as one of the best English players in history.

7. David Beckham

  • Date of Birth: 2 May 1975
  • Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

Ranked seventh among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is David Beckham. Beyond his football success, he’s a global advertising icon and was named one of the world’s most influential people in 2004.

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Beckham began his career at Manchester United, winning the 1999 Triple, before joining Real Madrid. Known for his free kicks, he’s the only Englishman to score in three World Cup tournaments. After retiring, Beckham co-founded the MLS franchise Inter Miami, which started playing in 2020.

8. Roy Keane

  • Date of Birth: 10 August 1971
  • Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

Ranked eighth among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is Roy Keane, known for his aggressive and powerful playing style. With a relentless will to win, he’s recognized among the best defensive midfielders in history.

Starting his career at Irish club Cobh Ramblers, Keane joined Manchester United and became captain, winning 7 English championships, 4 FA Cups, and a Champions League title. While his international success was limited, Keane is considered one of the greatest Irish players of all time.

9. Peter Schmeichel

  • Date of Birth: 18 November 1963
  • Height: 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)
  • Position(s): Goalkeeper

Ranked ninth among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is Peter Schmeichel, an iconic goalkeeper known for his towering presence, excellent reflexes, and the famous “star jump” move. Joining Manchester United in 1991, he played a crucial role in winning 5 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, and a Champions League.

Schmeichel is not only a Manchester United legend but also one of the greatest Danish players, earning 129 caps and playing a key role in Denmark’s Euro 1992 triumph with numerous decisive saves.

10. Wayne Rooney

  • Date of Birth: 24 October 1985
  • Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.76 m)
  • Position(s): Forward, midfielder

Ranked tenth among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is Wayne Rooney, the club’s all-time top scorer with 253 goals. Active with United until 2017, Rooney became the club’s icon during a transitional period when many stars, including Sir Alex Ferguson, left.

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Arriving from Everton in 2004, he was a promising talent in English football, contributing to the national team and setting records for the Three Lions. Rooney is still adored by Manchester United fans for his achievements, which include five Premier League titles, a Champions League, a Europa League, a Club World Cup, an FA Cup, and being voted Player of the Season four times.

11. Duncan Edwards

  • Date of Birth: 1 October 1936
  • Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
  • Position(s): Left half

Ranked eleventh among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is Duncan Edwards, a versatile midfielder known for his powerful play and nicknamed “The Tank.” Joining Manchester United at 16, he won the English championship twice and reached the Champions League semi-finals.

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Despite playing only 175 matches, his promising career was tragically cut short by a plane crash in 1958 at the age of 21. Edwards, part of the Busby Babes, also had an early international career, earning 18 caps and scoring 5 goals. Despite his brief career, he is celebrated as one of Manchester United’s best players.

12. Denis Law

  • Date of Birth: 24 February 1940
  • Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
  • Position(s): Centre forward

Ranked twelfth among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is Denis Law, an extraordinary and combative scorer. The only Scottish player to win the Ballon d’Or, Law’s career included successful stints with Huddersfield Town, Manchester City, Torino, and, most notably, Manchester United.

Top Goalscorers For Manchester United
Image Source: Man United

With United, he won the FA Cup, two league titles, and the 1968 Champions League. Law, one of the greatest Scottish players, scored 30 goals in 55 international matches and played in the 1974 World Cup in the final year of his career.

13. Rio Ferdinand

  • Date of Birth: 7 November 1978
  • Height: 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)
  • Position(s): Centre-back

Ranked thirteenth among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is Rio Ferdinand. Initially criticized for his high price tag of 33 million, Ferdinand quickly established himself as a key central defender. It took only two Premier League matches for him to become a starter under Ferguson.

Remaining with the club until June 30, 2014, Ferdinand played 455 matches, scoring eight goals and providing nine assists in 39,830 minutes of play. His impressive tenure at United included winning 15 titles, including six Premier League titles, a Champions League, and a FIFA Club World Cup. A leader on and off the pitch, Ferdinand continued to excel until his last match with the Red Devils.

14. Bryan Robson

  • Date of Birth: 11 January 1957
  • Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
  • Position(s): Midfielder

Ranked fourteenth among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is Bryan Robson, a midfielder who led the team through challenging times. Spending 13 seasons with the Red Devils, he played a key role in the club’s transition to success under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Robson’s contributions include two Premier League titles, a European Cup Winners’ Cup, an FA Cup, three League Cups, and four English Super Cups. With 257 appearances, 50 goals, and three assists, he is now a Manchester United legend and club representative, solidifying his place among the greatest players in the club’s history.

15. Gary Neville

  • Date of Birth: 18 February 1975
  • Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
  • Position(s): Right-back

Ranked fifteenth among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is Gary Neville. Between 1995 and 2007, he held the record for the most appearances as a right full-back in the English national team. Widely regarded as one of the most experienced and best footballers in the world in his position, Neville participated in two World Championships (1998 and 2006) and three European Championship finals (1996, 2000, 2004).

During his illustrious career with Manchester United, Neville won multiple honors, including two Champions League titles (1999, 2008), two FA Cups, three English championships, and several League Cup editions. A product of the club’s youth system, he played a crucial role in securing eight Premier League titles for Manchester United.

16. David de Gea

  • Date of Birth: 7 November 1990
  • Height: 1.92 m (6 ft 4 in)
  • Position(s): Goalkeeper

Ranked sixteenth among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is David de Gea. Starting his career with Atlético Madrid, he joined Manchester United in 2011. With over 500 appearances for the club, he secured honors including a Premier League title, an FA Cup, two League Cups, three Community Shields, and the UEFA Europa League.

Recognized as United’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year four times, he also earned spots in multiple PFA Team of the Year selections. De Gea left Manchester United in 2023. Internationally, he captained Spain’s under-21 team to European Championship victories and represented Spain in World Cups and European Championships.

17. Roger Byrne

  • Date of Birth: 8 September 1929
  • Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
  • Position(s): Full-back

Ranked seventeenth among the “Best Manchester United Players of All Time” is Roger Byrne. He represented the England national football team in 33 matches between 1954 and 1957.

Tragically, shortly before his 29th birthday, Byrne lost his life in the plane crash of British European Airways Flight 609 in Munich, which claimed the lives of eight players from Manchester United.

18. Ruud van Nistelrooy

  • Date of Birth: 1 July 1976
  • Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
  • Position(s): Striker

Rio Ferdinand, ranks 18th among Manchester United’s best players. Starting in FC Den Bosch’s youth team, he played for SC Heerenveen and PSV Eindhoven before joining Manchester United in 2001. With Manchester United, he won the English Championship in 2003 and was a top scorer in the Champions League.

After leaving Manchester United, he played for Real Madrid, Hamburger SV, and FC Málaga, retiring at 35. Van Nistelrooy represented the Dutch national team in 70 games, scoring 35 goals, and participated in tournaments like the 2010 World Cup and 2008 European Championship.

19. Tommy Taylor

  • Date of Birth: 29 January 1932
  • Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
  • Position(s): Centre-forward

Tommy Taylor, ranked 19th among the best Manchester United players, tragically lost his life in the BEA flight 609 crash. His football journey began with a coal mine-owned team, Smithies United. At 16, he received an offer from Barnsley FC, and in 1953, he joined Manchester United for a then-record sum of £29,999.

Taylor made a memorable debut, scoring two goals. Despite an offer from Inter Milan in 1957, Manchester United’s manager, Matt Busby, declined a £65,000 bid. Until his untimely death, Taylor played 191 games for Man United, scoring 131 goals.

A prolific center forward, Taylor represented England 19 times, scoring 16 goals. He was part of the 1954 World Cup team, reaching the quarterfinals. His impact on the field remains an integral part of Manchester United’s history.

20. Denis Irwin

  • Date of Birth: 31 October 1965
  • Height: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
  • Position(s): Full back

Denis Irwin, ranked 20th among the best Manchester United players, was a prominent full-back during the era of the legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. The Irish international and 1994 World Cup participant played 56 times for Ireland.

Best Manchester United Players of All Time

Irwin’s tenure with Manchester United saw considerable success, winning seven English championships (1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2001) and two FA Cup trophies (1994 and 1996). Additionally, he secured the Cup Winners’ title in 1991 and the League Cup in 1992. Irwin’s contributions made him a key figure in Manchester United’s achievements on both domestic and European fronts.

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