Rooney, Lampard, Beckham: Who are the greatest England players of all time?

Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney

English football is steeped in history, but for a nation that supposedly invented the game, it’s not really enjoyed the best success. 

They have one World Cup win in 1966 and since that moment, they’ve struggled to get close to winning it again.

Of course, they’ve gone deep in European Championships and reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2018, but England has struggled to get over the line when it matters most.

Even when it had a golden generation towards the beginning of the millennium they failed.

They reached the quarter-finals at Euro 2004 before suffering heartbreak at the hands of Portugal. Managed by Sven Goran Eriksson, they were then knocked out at exactly the same point by the same opposition at the 2006 World Cup.

There was so much expectation of the players at that stage, but they crumbled under the pressure and never won a trophy. 

The hopes of England as a nation are now slimmer. Three Lions supporters rarely get their hopes up and after coming up short in the inaugural UEFA Nations League last summer, who can blame them. 

Gareth Southgate

That being said, fans have had the pleasure of watching some fabulous talent down the years and with it being an international break, we’ve looked at a list that was once put together by Football Trips, who named the ten best English players ever.

It’s quite the party of names…

10. Paul Scholes

66 caps, 14 goals

The red-haired Scholes retired from international duty early when he was just 29 but he was a fantastic player in his day, becoming the mainstay of Manchester United’s midfield for a considerable period of time.

Scholes played 718 times for the Red Devils and won 11 Premier League titles in the process. He also won the Champions League on two occasions – it’s clear to see why he makes this list.

Paul Scholes

9. Gary Lineker

80 caps, 48 goals

Lineker is, of course, the current face of Match of the Day and big Champions League nights on BT, but when he was still playing he was a striker full of goals. His record for England speaks volumes and he enjoyed a successful career not only in England but also abroad. 

The forward ended up having spells at Barcelona and also in Japan with Nagoya Grampus Eight. He was once named as the third-best player in the world and even won the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup.

Gary Lineker 1992

8. Kevin Keegan

63 caps, 21 goals

Keegan played for the Three Lions between 1972 and 1982, before going onto manage the national side for a year at the turn of the millennium when he took charge during Euro 2000. Before that, he’d played at two major tournaments for England.

The former Newcastle man was a joy to behold during his playing days and scored over 300 career goals. Not bad at all.

Kevin Keegan

7. Bobby Moore

108 caps, 2 goals

The West Ham legend was an absolute stalwart both at club and international level and simply has to make this list. He was captain during England’s only World Cup triumph and has even been hailed by Pele as the best defender he’s ever played against. 

If that doesn’t get you onto this list, I’m not sure what will. He is the epitome of an English footballer.

Bobby Moore

6. David Beckham 

115 caps, 17 goals

Beckham racked up over 100 caps for his country and came close to equalling that in terms of the number of hairstyles he had over the course of his career. But for all the fashion and amazing charity work he’s done, he was an outstanding footballer first and foremost.

His crossing and set-piece abilities are some of the best we’ve ever seen and it’s quite incredible to think he scored so few goals for England. That being said, he is one of his country’s greatest servants and that moment against Greece in 2001 still lives long in the memory.

David Beckham free-kick

5. Steven Gerrard 

114 caps, 21 goals

Gerrard’s record for England is remarkably similar to Beckham’s and that’s probably why he finds himself in and around the same area. The Liverpudlian’s trophy record may not be as a great as Beckham’s, but he was one of the most consistent players around, regularly scoring important goals during a 14-year England career.

Possessing one of the fiercest shots of a football, his inclusion this high up is a no-brainer.

Steven Gerrard

4. Frank Lampard

106 caps, 29 goals

We’re now getting towards the real meat and drink of this list. Lampard is one of the finest goalscoring midfielders to play the game and although he only netted 29 for his country, scored 211 times for Chelsea.

It’s intriguing to see him so high up on this list of names, but at least it settles one debate – who was the better player between Scholes, Gerrard and Lampard.

Frank Lampard

3. Alan Shearer

63 caps, 30 goals

Alan Shearer is undoubtedly one of the best players to have come out of English football and it almost defies belief that he didn’t achieve 100 caps.

He is the Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer with 260 strikes and had a mighty fine record for England too. Shearer went to four major tournaments and was part of the squad that took third place at Euro 96. 

Alan Shearer

2. Wayne Rooney

120 caps, 53 goals 

Remember the name, Wayne Rooney. Those were the words muttered when he first burst onto the scene with Everton and he quickly made it very hard to escape the headlines. Not only is he England’s all-time record goalscorer, but once he retired, he was also just five games shy of becoming the most capped player in their history. He’s still playing for Derby but the last of his England appearances came in 2018. 

From a cheeky teenager to a mature and experienced footballer, Rooney is one of the finest gifts the English game has been given.

Wayne Rooney

1. Sir Bobby Charlton

106 caps, 49 goals 

It was always going to take a special player to usurp Rooney at the top of this list, but a certain Bobby Charlton deserves to. Another Manchester United legend, the attacking midfielder was part of the squad that won the World Cup in 66 and is one of a few Englishman to win France Football’s prestigious Ballon d’Or award.

Charlton brothers

Considering he was once touted as the best in the world, it’s no surprise to see him sit at the top of this list.

He is one of the best to grace the game. 

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