Gerrard, Scholes, Beckham: Who is the greatest English player ever?


England manager Gareth Southgate has a plethora of talent to choose from right now.

Whether it’s attacking midfielders with the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, James Maddison, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount.

Or at right-back where Southgate couldn’t even find space for Champions League and Premier League winner Trent Alexander-Arnold in his latest 26-man squad for World Cup 2022 qualifiers.

Is this another ‘Golden Generation?’

It’s not the first time England will enter a summer tournament as one of the favourites.

However, the Three Lions have just the 1966 World Cup to show for it as devastating exits from competitions have prevented them from adding to their solitary triumph.


Some world-class players have come and gone without winning any International honours and this current crop will hope to change that.

Trophies might be lacking but the talent we’ve seen put on an England shirt certainly hasn’t been.

But who is the greatest English player of all time?

Well, ranking website ‘Ranker’ has been asking that question with English football fans upvoting and downvoting players past and present to debater the player.

After 32,000 votes, we’ve decided to bring you the top 20.

Let’s take a look:

  • 20) Geoff Hurst
  • 19) Bryan Robson
  • 18) Rio Ferdinand
  • 17) Wayne Rooney
  • 16) Tom Finney

20-16 summary

Hurst can perhaps consider himself unfortunate to be named 20th considering it was his hat-trick that helped England win the 1966 World Cup final.

Robson’s 90 England caps aren’t enough to see him ranked higher with the former midfielder perhaps hampered by the fact he suffered injuries in the early stages of both the 1986 and 1990 World Cups.

Ferdinand is the second highest ranked defender as he makes the top 20 ahead of former England centre-back John Terry.

If Hurst and Robson can feel hard done by with their positions, so too can record England goalscorer, Wayne Rooney. 53 goals in 120 appearances for his country is only enough for 17th, apparently.

Finney once the record goalscorer for England once upon a time, as he scored 30 goals in 76 matches from 1946-1958.

  • 15) Gary Lineker
  • 14) Dixie Dean
  • 13) Michael Owen
  • 12) David Beckham
  • 11) Paul Scholes

15-11 summary

Lineker is one of England’s greatest goalscorers with 48 in 80 matches, earning the Golden Boot during the 1986 World Cup.

Everton legend, Dean, is certainly an interesting name to appear in this list. He only played 16 times for England - although he did score 18 goals during that time. His 350 goals in 400 matches for Everton may have had some impact on his ranking.

Owen shot to fame during the 1998 World Cup with THAT goal against Argentina, while he also scored at Euro 2000, 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004. He ended his England career with 40 goals in 89 matches.

Beckham captained his country for six years, earning 115 caps and appearing in five international tournaments.

Scholes is often considered the most gifted English player of all time but he would sometimes be shifted onto the left of midfield to accommodate Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. It meant the midfielder only earned 66 caps, scoring 14 goals for England.

  • 10) Peter Shilton
  • 9) Frank Lampard
  • 8) Alan Shearer
  • 7) Kevin Keegan
  • 6) Jimmy Greaves

Shilton’s record 125 appearances for England is only enough to see him claim 10th place.

Lampard beats former midfield rival, Scholes, by two places thanks to playing 50 more matches for England, scoring 15 more goals.

The Premier League’s greatest goalscorer and former England captain, Shearer, comes next with 30 goals in 63 appearances from 1992-2000.

One of Shearer’s former England managers, Keegan, is seventh. The forward played 63 times for his nation, scoring 21 goals during an 11-year period before going on to manage the Three Lions.

The legendary Graves just misses out on the top five after scoring 44 goals in 57 appearances. He played the three group matches in the 1966 World Cup but suffered an injury that required 14 stitches. That saw Hurst replace him for the remainder of the tournament and we all know how that went…

  • 5) Gordon Banks
  • 4) Sir Stanley Matthews
  • 3) Steven Gerrard
  • 2) Bobby Charlton
  • 1) Bobby Moore

So, the greatest player in England’s history is the captain of the 1966 World Cup winning side, Moore. There won’t be too many arguments there. The defender played 108 times for England.

Charlton, who held the goalscoring record before Rooney broke it, is in second. The Manchester legend played a big role in the 1966 World Cup triumph and scored 49 goals in 106 appearances.

Gerrard finds himself in esteemed company in third with the former England captain earning 114 caps.

Matthews played for England from 1934-1957 and scored 11 goals in 54 matches - a time when fewer international matches were played.

The late, great Banks finishes up the top five with the legendary goalkeeper playing 73 times for England and was remember for THAT save against Pele.

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