The top 25 British players that I have seen in my lifetime. Having already done a similar list with Goalkeepers and World Players, I am now going to try and tackle arguably the hardest one yet. I have excluded goalkeepers as I have done a separate list for them and I find comparing a GK to a Striker near impossible.
For those of you who have read my previous two “Best I’ve Seen” lists, you will all know that I only include players during my lifetime as how can I possibly rank Bobby Moore, Jim Baxter, George Best or John Charles when I never watched them play, all I have of these legends is old footage and its unfair to use that as an example of their extensive talents.
Also the likes of Bryan Robson, Davie Cooper, John Barnes and Peter Beardsley all may have played in my lifetime but I was simply too young to remember them properly.
So here it is The 25 Greatest British Players I’ve Seen. Feel free to comment below or contact us on Twitter @euroleaguenews with your top players, and let me know what you think of the list.
25. Paul Merson. England. Arsenal, Aston Villa & Portsmouth (various others)
Merse started his career at Arsenal, bursting onto the scene in the 1988-89 season, winning the league title and the PFA Young Player of the Year award. He went on to win another league title with the gunners in 91′, alongside the FA Cup and League Cup in 1993. He played in two UEFA Cup Winners Cup Finals, winning in 94. His career threatened to unravel in November 1994 after admitting to a cocaine problem. He bravely battled his demons and had three more good year’s at Arsenal before moving to Middlesbrough for £5 million. He later was instrumental in Portsmouths promotion to the Premier League. Merson played 21 times for England.
24. Gary McAllister. Scotland. Motherwell, Leicester City, Leeds United, Coventry City & Liverpool.
McAllister was a fine footballer, great range of passing and a fantastic set piece taker. He won the league championship in 1992 at Leeds United, and then spent several years at Coventry City. He signed for Liverpool in 2000 in a surprise move, considering he was 35 years old at the time, but in a sensational year he won the UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup, League Cup and Charity Sheild. He was so good that year that Gerard Houllier recently called him his “most inspired signing”. He won 57 Scotland caps.
23. Ally McCoist. Scotland. St Johnstone, Sunderland & Rangers.
Super Ally was a goal machine, so much so that he won the European Golden Boot not once but twice, he is joined on that list of double winners by Gerd Muller, Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Eusebio. That says it all about his goalscoring exploits. Coisty spent his best years at Ibrox winning an amazing 10 league titles, 9 league cups and being named Scottish Player of the Year in 1992. The larger than life McCoist won 61 Scotland caps and is Rangers all time leading league goalscorer.
22. Steve McManaman. England. Liverpool, Real Madrid & Manchester City.
Steve McManaman played for England 37 times a number that I feel should of been higher, at Liverpool, Macca won the FA and League Cup before moving to Spanish giants Real Madrid on a bosman. It was at Madrid that he would cement his legacy winning La Liga twice and of course winning the Champions League twice including a Man of the Match performance in the 2000 final.
21. Sol Campbell. England. Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal & Portsmouth (various others)
Campbell started out as Spurs, captaining the club to the 1999 League Cup. He was well on his way to becoming a Spurs legend, then he signed for Arsenal. Altough criticised for it at the time, looking back who can argue with his decision, at Arsenal he won 2 league titles and 3 FA Cups. In 2006 Campbell scored in the champions league final although Arsenal went onto lose 2-1. He was the rock which the invincibles were built around. He left Arsenal to join Portsmouth and added another FA Cup to his bulging trophy cabinet. He featured for England 73 times.
20. Jamie Carragher. England. Liverpool. Carra represented his country 38 times, but it is his contribution with Liverpool that he will forever be remembered for. A one club man, he has made over 700 appearances for the Reds winning 8 major honours including the incredible 2005 champions league win in Istanbul. That season he was simply sensational at the back for Liverpool. He was named in the PFA team of the year in 2006.
19. Mark Hughes. Wales. Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich & Chelsea (various others)
Sparky played for three of the biggest clubs in the world in a tremendous career. He won a multitude of honours including 2 premier league titles, 4 FA Cups and two UEFA Cup Winners Cups. Named as PFA Player of the Year in 1989, Hughes played for Wales 72 times. He is a member of The English Football Hall of Fame.
18. Robbie Fowler. England. Liverpool, Leeds United & Manchester City (various others)
One of the most natural goalscorers in British football history, Fowler was a deadly marksman. He is the 4th highest goalscorer in premier league history. He won the PFA Young Player Of The Year two years running and was a member of the 2001 Liverpool squad that won all before them (except the league). He was unlucky to only make 26 appearances for England.
17. Paul Lambert. Scotland. St Mirren, Motherwell, Borussia Dortmund & Celtic.
Lambert won the Scottish Cup with St Mirren at the tender age of 17, he moved onto Motherwell where he spent 3 years, he played against Borussia Dortmund in a UEFA Cup game and impressed so much they signed him. He only spent a year in Germany but what a successful year it was, Lambert won the Champions League with Dortmund and his performance in the final when he kept Zinedine Zidane quiet will go down in Dortmund folklore. He signed for Celtic soon after the final and won 4 league titles along with 3 Scottish Cups. He was named SFWA Player of the Year in 2002. Lambert won 40 caps for Scotland and has now turned his hand to management.
16. Gary Neville. England. Manchester United
As a player he was often the one player opposing fans despised, as he was known for his passion and commitment to the cause. A Manchester United great, Red Nev won countless honours with his boyhood team, he also played for his country 85 times. Often underrated as a player (at one point I would say he was best right back in the world) his crowning moment came when he won the champions league in 1999 as part of the clubs historic treble. Now a pundit, he has drew praise from all over for his insightful, honest and intelligent analysis.
15. Gareth Bale. Wales. Southampton & Tottenham Hotspur.
Bale is still young, only 23 years old, and yet his name rightfully deserves to be on this list. He will only keep getting better, a terrifying thought for defenders, Bale has already got 40 caps for his country and will surely reach at least 100. He has been heavily linked with the biggest clubs in the world and if he continues to fulfill his massive potential, he may well be top 5 on this list in years to come.
14. Michael Owen. England. Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United & Stoke City.
Owen had a truly fantastic career, and yet you can’t help but feel he should of had more, done more. Injuries prevented him from fulfilling his massive potential. He burst onto the scene at Liverpool having a great end to the season and was picked for the world cup squad in 1998, the goal he went onto score against Argentina was arguably the peak of his career although few knew it at the time. He scored a fantastic hat trick in Munich versus Germany in Englands memorable 5-1 win. He was a key member of Liverpools great 2001 squad that won every cup competition they entered, and was rewarded for his individual brilliance winning the Ballon D’or that year. He spent time at Real Madrid scoring in el Classico and then moved to Newcastle where injuries again got in the way. He spent a few years on the fringes of the team at Old Trafford where he picked up a league title but had few opportunities to start. Owen was among the most talented strikers England have ever produced, its just a shame injuries prevented him from fully fulfilling his vast potential.
13. Rio Ferdinand. England. West Ham United, Leeds United & Manchester United.
Rio is a great ball playing centre half, composed under pressure and a great reader of the game. He broke into the West Ham side and quickly made a big impact, becoming the youngest defender to ever play for England, this attracted Leeds United and they signed him for a mammoth £18 million. His performances for Leeds again impressed, he was central to them reaching the champions league semi final in 2001. Manchester United came calling and after a £30 million move he signed for Leeds’ rivals. His time at United has been incredibly successful winning 5 league titles, a champions league and world club cup. Rio has been named in the PFA Team of the year 5 times and represented England 81 times.
12. Paul Ince. England. Manchester United, Inter Milan & Liverpool (various others)
Ince made 53 England appearances, he was named in the PFA Team of the Year three years in a row and the domestic team of the decade in 2001. The Guv’nor won 2 league titles and a Cup Winners Cup at United before he moved on to Inter Milan where he was a runner up in the UEFA Cup. He made a controversial move to Man Uniteds big rivals Liverpool, but failed to add to his trophy cabinet.
11. David Beckham. England. Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan & Paris St-Germain.
Becks is the most famous footballer on the planet, probably the most famous to ever play the game. His fame has probably eclipsed his talent in recent years but that shouldnt take away anything from his exceptional abilities. A hard working, dedicated pro, much more than just a set piece maestro. His passing ability was second to none. He won everything on offer at Manchester United and La Liga with Real Madrid. He played for his country 115 times, 58 of which were as captain.
10. John Terry. England. Chelsea.
Perhaps not the most popular footballer to ever play the game, although I’m sure even his biggest detractors would want him as centre back in their team. Terry has played for England 78 times and has been the backbone of Chelseas team for more than a decade. Winner of the UEFA Club Defender of the Year 3 times, he has won 3 league titles and four FA Cups. A rock at the back, Terry also chips in with an unusually high percentage of goals for a defender.
9. Tony Adams. England. Arsenal.
Adams spent his entire 22 year career at Arsenal. The centre back and captain Adams was a born leader in every sense of the word. During that time at Highbury, he won four league titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 league cups and a UEFA Cup Winners Cup. As an England player he made 66 appearances. In 1996 Adams admitted to being an alcoholic and it is testament to his character that he battled through that dark period of his life and lifted more trophies in 1998 and 2002. He remains the only man to ever captain three title winning sides in three different decades.
8. Ashley Cole. England. Arsenal & Chelsea.
Ashley Cole has been arguably the best left back in world football over the past 6 or 7 years. He has been named in the PFA Team of the Year four times and has won a century of caps for England. Cole has picked up 3 league titles, a champions league winners medal and an incredible 7 FA Cups.
7. Wayne Rooney. England. Everton & Manchester United.
Rooney announced himself to the world with a great goal against Arsenal as a 16 year old. The young Evertonian had the footballing world at his feet. He was quickly snapped up by Manchester United and made an immediate impact, a hat trick on his Debut against Fenerbahce. He has went on to win the champions league, 4 league titles and 2 league cups. Individually he won both the PFA and FWA Player of the Year in 2010. Strong, with a great eye for the goal yet always willing to work very hard for the team, Rooney still has so much to offer his club and country.
6. Alan Shearer. England. Southampton, Blackburn Rovers & Newcastle United.
379 goals in his club career and 30 goals in his 63 England career. Shearer was born to score goals. He only ever collected one team medal- the 1995 premier league. But individually he stacked up the accolades, the all time top premier league goalscorer won the PFA Player of the Year award in 95 and 97. He was named in the FIFA 100 by Pele as one the greatest players to play the game. His power and shooting were sensational and he used these tools to full effect throughout his career.
5. Paul Gascoigne. England. Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio, Rangers & Everton (various others)
Gazza had it all, unfortunately he didn’t have somebody watching over him, guiding him. A troubled genius, Paul Gascoigne will go down as one of sports greatest characters, a flamboyant midfielder who possesed rare gifts on the pitch. He won 57 England caps and captured the worlds heart with his teary eyed world cup semi final performance in 1990. At Spurs he won the FA Cup, but its his time at Scottish giants Rangers that was his most trophy laden, winning 2 lsayue titles along with a Scottish Cup and a league cup. He was inducted into the English Football hall of fame in 2002.
4. Frank Lampard. England. West Ham United & Chelsea.
Lampard is a Chelsea and England legend, he has scored over 200 goals for Chelsea, a phenomenal return for a midfielder. His midfield play truly a joy to behold, he can tackle, defend, score goals aplenty, his passing is superb. Lamps has won the premier league title 3 times, 4 FA Cups and the champions league with Chelsea. He was runner up in the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2005.
3. Ryan Giggs. Wales. Manchester United.
Giggsy is the most decorated player in English football. An incredible player, Welshman Giggs broke into a Manchester United team full of stars, at an early age, and he never looked back. He was awarded the Player of The Year award in 2009, somewhat controversially but nobody can deny it wasn’t long overdue. A tricky winger with an eye for goal in his youth, Giggs has evolved into the compete player. He recieved a standing ovation from the home fans at the Bernabeu recently, proof of ever it was needed of his standing in the world game.
2. Steven Gerrard. England. Liverpool.
Liverpools talisman for well over a decade, Gerrard is known for scoring some of the best last gasp goals in recent memory. His Olympiacos and West Ham last minute strikes not only two of the best of his career but also two of the most important. If ever a captains influence was captured in modern football, it was the famous second half in Istanbul, 3-0 down in the champions league final to AC Milan, Gerrard pulled his team back into the game and went on to lift the trophy, a peak in his fabulous career.
1. Paul Scholes. England. Manchester United.
Scholes is surely Englands most talented player of all time. The Manchester United legend has done it all with his club, and he has done it for so long. The national team never really utilised him, if I was England Manager during Scholes golden era I would of built the team around him. Unfortunately for England, the management team never did this and Scholes international career isn’t as fondly remembered as his sensational club career. His range of passing and his shooting were unequalled, some of the goals he scored were truly marvelous.
What do you think of the list? Comment below, or contact us on Twitter @euroleaguenews