I suspect that for most players though, bestowing a similar honour as the best player ever to have played for Southampton wouldn’t mean quite as much.
This is by no means disparaging to the club that I have spent over 30 years supporting but more that most ‘great’ players have effectively just ‘passed through’ the doors of The Dell and St Marys either on their way to or from other things.
The shortlist of candidates for this title could include such names as Peter Shilton, Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer, Alan Ball, Mick Channon and Matthew Le Tissier. One day, assuming potential is fulfilled you could also be including Gareth Bale and possibly even Theo Walcott in this line up.
There is absolutely no doubt that the title of Southampton’s Greatest Player can only be awarded to the man known as Le God. 210 goals in 463 appearances is only part of the story of the one club man who, according to many, didn’t work hard enough. He will have had at least as many assists as goals in the 16 seasons he graced The Dell and why he was continually overlooked by successive England managers is a mystery to the vast majority of Saints fans.
The title of the greatest player ever to have played for Southampton, if it doesn’t go to Le Tiss, would probably go to someone who enjoyed their greatest achievements away from the South Coast . Like most things in football, how you choose that player from my or any other shortlist, is down to personal preference.
If you’re looking for someone with consistency over a long period of time for both club and country then you wouldn’t look much further than Shilton. If your criteria is scoring goals then you would probably end up choosing between Micky Channon and Alan Shearer. The remaining two of Keegan and Ball would take the title if your preference was for a player with a big heart and lots of endeavour.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.