England Best Football Players of All Time

A look at England best football players of all time. A list of players who are considered invaluable for English & European football.

England Best Football Players of All Time

England always lines up with a star-studded national team when it comes to championships. And if you look player by player, England should be more successful internationally – but they always manage to get out of the way. 

The only time the country won the World Cup was in 1966 at home. Therefore, it is no wonder that many in this article were playing at the time. 

But even though they are behind many other great football nations in the number of medals, they still always have incredible players, and probably the world’s most entertaining league. 

Who are England’s Best Football Players?

In this article, we will take a closer look at England’s best football player of all time. It was definitely not easy. England has produced hundreds of fantastic players over the years. 

13. David Beckham

Position:  Midfielder
Manchester United, Milan, LA Galaxy, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain
Matches: 650
Goals: 114

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A post shared by David Beckham (@davidbeckham)

David Beckham is the football phenomenon that transformed the sport forever. Before he appeared, football players were known as just football players. But David Beckham could just as easily be seen as a brand and fashion icon. 

In the early 2000s, people were completely crazy about Beckham, and his move from United to Real Madrid toned it down a few more levels.

He is above all known as an incredibly skilled midfielder with a superb right foot. He has always been the free-kick shooter in his teams with great success. He has six league titles with Manchester United, and one Champions League gold.

He was also team captain for the English national team from 2000 to 2006. But there was no international success, and it was mainly in the clubs that he won his titles. 

12. Rio Ferdinand

Position: Defender
Manchester UnitedWest Ham United, Leeds United, Queen Park Rangers, Bournemouth
Matches: 600
Goals: 14

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Rio Ferdinand together with Nemanja Vidic formed a back pair at Manchester United for several years. They are probably the Premier League’s best back pair in the last 20 years. Rio was a giant in the backline and a contributing factor to how Manchester United could dominate the Premier League for several years in a row.

He has six league titles with the club and a Champions League gold from 2008. He together with Chelsea’s legend John Terry was the dominant defender in England, but unlike Terry, Ferdinand had a relatively quiet life alongside the pitch – which also explains why we have chosen to exclude Terry from this list. 

11. Gary Lineker

Position: Striker
Leicester City, Barcelona, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Nagoya Grampus Eight
Matches: 546
Goals: 291

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Gary Lineker is a funny jerk who loves football & Twitter. Today he is an expert commentator on English TV, but in the 80’s he was a great striker with great success.

He lacks many merits that other players have on this list, but individually he won a lot. Both in the league and internationally, he often won the top scorer, and he is the only Englishman together with Geoff Hurst who scored a hat trick in a World Cup context. 

He is also unique in that he never wore a yellow or red card throughout his career. Summarizing his career, he is not England’s best footballer, but probably one of their sharpest strikers ever. 

10. Alan Shearer

Position: Striker
Southampton, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United
Matches: 633
Goals: 326

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Here we have one of England’s best scorers ever, who still holds the record for the number of goals in the Premier League. He has only won the league once, and that was with Blackburn Rovers in 1994/1995.

After that, he was bought by Newcastle United, where he is a legend nowadays. He scored 267 goals in 303 games for the team. He was an exceptional goal scorer and won the internal shooting league in the teams he played the following seasons: 

  • 1994-95
  • 1995-96
  • 1996-97
  • 1998-99
  • 1999-00
  • 2000-01
  • 2002-03
  • 2003-04
  • 2004-05
  • 2005-06

9. Paul Scholes

Position: Midfielder
Manchester United
Matches: 565
Goals: 121

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Paul Scholes is probably the world’s most loyal football player. He was raised in Manchester United and remained loyal to the club until he put his shoes on the shelf. Opinions about Scholes vary quite a bit, whether you love him or not at all. Many people probably do not think he belongs here either, but we do. He kept an incredibly even level, with a very high minimum level. 

He was also a tough player, who often had to endure criticism for his tough tackles. During his career, he picked up a total of 97 yellow and 4 red cards. Only Sergio Ramos has received more cards in the Champions League than Scholes. 

He was also known for his fantastic shot from distance, and many of his most delicious goals came from outside the goal area. He won the Premier League ten times with United, and took home two golds in the Champions League, making him ranked as one of England’s best football players. 

8. Sir Geoff Hurst

Position: Striker
West Ham United, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, Seattle Sounders, Cork Celtic.
Matches: 611
Goals: 248

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Geoff Hurst was a superb scorer for his club teams, no talking about it. But the reason why he became so famous is for his hat-trick in the World Cup final against Germany in 1966 – which England won at home.

Since then, England has not won any more medals in the World Cup, so it is no wonder that he has the legendary status he has. His success that year was really a coincidence when the team’s regular striker Jimmy Greaves was unhappily injured in the group stage, and Hurst got the chance after that. 

It was in West Ham that he scored the majority of his goals, where he became the team’s best player for several years in a row. He is also one of the few football players who have been knighted for his efforts for the country. 

7. Frank Lampard

Position: Midfielder
West Ham United,  Chelsea,  Swansea City, Manchester City, New York City
Matches: 772
Goals: 231

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Frank Lampard is one of England’s best players ever. He is the only midfielder in Premier League history to score 150 goals. He also has some assists to his name and is in fourth place in the league’s history.

Lampard was one of the big reasons for Chelsea’s dominance in the 2000s and managed to win three league titles with the team. He also won the Champions League season 12/13, and the Europa League the following year.

He has been named Chelsea’s best player three times, and England’s best footballer twice. He was extremely popular as a player and seems at least as respected today as a coach. 

6. Steven Gerrard

Position:  Midfielder
Liverpool, LA Galaxy
Matches: 656
Goals: 147

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Liverpool’s best player of all time, who never managed to win the league title. Steven Gerrard is a legend in Liverpool, who played his entire professional career for the team until it was time to retire from the LA Galaxy. 

He has been loyal to the club throughout his career, even though on most occasions he had the opportunity to move on to more successful clubs. 

He took his Liverpool against all odds for the Champions League gold in 2005 in Istanbul. A match that the club’s fans will never forget. He was the club’s captain for several years, leading the team from midfield. A fantastic player in every way, who unfortunately never managed to take home the league victory. 

Instead, he is remembered as the player who slipped against Chelsea in the third last match of the season in 2014. A match they were playing a draw, but a back pass and a lap by Gerrard gave Chelsea’s Demba Ba a free-kick he managed easily.

It later helped Manchester City take home the gold instead. 

5. Wayne Rooney

Position: Striker
Manchester UnitedEverton, DC United, Derby County
Matches: 687
Goals: 296

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Wayne Rooney is one of the few players on this list who still plays. He plays in Derby County nowadays, where he has done surprisingly well. But he is undoubtedly best known as a striker at Manchester United, and that is also where he won basically all his medals.

He is both United’s top scorer ever with 253 goals, and England’s top scorer with 53 goals. He was only 17 years old when he got the chance in the national team and was during many championships one of the country’s most important players. 

He won the Premier League five times with United, and also took home a Champions League gold season 07/08, and gold in the Europa League season 16/17. 

4. Jimmy Greaves

Position: Striker
Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Brentwood, Chelmsford City, Barnet, Woodford Town
Matches: 597
Goals: 423

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Here we have another of England’s top scorers. Jimmy Greaves holds the record for the number of goals scored for the club Tottenham, for which he played for many years. Before that, he played his first years as a professional football player at arch-rival Chelsea, where he also injected goals. 

He is perhaps best known as the player who shouldered the attack in 1966 at the start of the World Cup, which England eventually won at home. In the group stage, he was unhappily injured and was replaced by Geoff Hurst who was superb in the coming matches. He was ready to play for the final but the coach did not want to play him, as he was afraid of disturbing a winning team.

Instead, Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick and secured the World Cup gold for England. At the time, only the players on the pitch won medals, so Jimmy Greaves never got one – which he was extremely disappointed with later in life. In interviews in recent days, Greaves told how it really felt: 

– ‘I danced around the pitch with everyone else but even in this moment of triumph and great happiness, deep down I felt my sadness. Throughout my years as a professional footballer, I had dreamed of playing in a World Cup Final. I had missed out on the match of a lifetime and it hurt.

3. Gordon Banks

Position:  Goalkeeper
Chesterfield, Leicester City, Stoke City, Cleveland Stokers, Hellenic, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, St. Louis Louis Patrick’s Athletic 
Matches: 631
Goals:  0

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A post shared by Gordon Banks (@gordon.banks_1966)

Another World Cup legend, though this time the goalkeeper who was with when England took the gold. Gordon Banks is perhaps best known for his enormous save against Pelé in the 1970 World Cup.

But it was in 1966 that he participated and won at home in England. He was the country’s first goalkeeper for several years and was on several occasions named the best goalkeeper of the year when he played. In the club context, he was not as successful, but there were a few cups wins with both Leicester and Stoke. 

In the fall of 1972, Banks was involved in a car accident, which unfortunately cost him his right eye, and eventually his professional career. But he continued to score for smaller clubs, officially retiring in 1977. The English will never forget his huge saves, and he is undoubtedly the country’s best goalkeeper of all time. 

2. Bobby Moore

Position: Defender
West Ham United, Fulham, San Antonio Thunder, Seattle Sounders, Herning Forward
Matches: 815
Goals: 28

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A post shared by Bobby Moore (@bobbymoorefan)

The article is clearly overrepresented by strikers, but England’s second-best player of all time is a defender. And not just any defender. Bobby Moore is considered one of the world’s best defenders and had a game understanding on the field like no other.

He was the giant in the backline during the successful year 1966 when England won the World Cup gold at home, and today has a large statue outside the national arena Wembley. He played basically his entire career for West Ham United, where his number 6 is now retired, and may not be used by the team’s future players. 

1. Sir Bobby Charlton

Position: Forward / Midfielder
Manchester United, Preston North End, Waterford United
Matches: 780
Goals: 274

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A post shared by Manchester United (@mufcscoop)

Finally, we have Sir Bobby Charlton, who most consider being England’s best football player of all time. He spent virtually his entire career at Manchester United, scoring 249 goals in 606 appearances. Only Wayne Rooney has done more.

The same applies at the international level. He was England’s top scorer for a long time until Rooney also broke that record. In 1966, when England won World Cup gold, Charlton was an extremely important cog, and he was named the world’s best player that year. 

He was known as a true gentleman, and never drew a red card during his entire career. He has a wealth of merits, both individually and at the club level.

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