Kane, Mead, Beckham, White: Ranking England's greatest players

England's greatest players

As the Lionesses lifted the Euro 2022 trophy at Wembley, it reignited an age-old debate.

Bobby Charlton, Wayne Rooney, Lucy Bronze, Fara Williams – these world-class players have all pulled on an England shirt during their career and put in a decent shift for their country.

But who is the greatest England player of all time? We may have only won two major titles – the 1966 World Cup and Euro 2022 – but there are so many contenders.

So, we’ve turned to our trusty medium of “Tiermaker” to rank the very best of England’s footballing talents.

Both male and female players are included in this list, but is by no means an attempt to directly compare them. Instead, it is a celebration of their achievements for their respective team.

In addition, the players here have been ranked based on their performances for England alone. They may have been the GOAT for their club, but that doesn’t mean they were the crème de la crème for their country.

Without further ado, let’s work our way through the ranking of England’s greatest players.

Reliable squad members:

Ashley Cole, Steph Houghton, Keira Walsh, Millie Bright, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Alex Scott

These are the players that might not have set the world on fire for England, or received much of the plaudits, but you’d always want them on your team. Dependable and dedicated, they will always be a safe bet to include in the starting line-up.

It’s often debated whether Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard was the best English midfielder, but unfortunately neither were able to truly excel when playing for their country.

Ashley Cole, Steph Houghton and Alex Scott appeared regularly for England during their careers, while Keira Walsh and Millie Bright impressed at Euro 2022 but were often overshadowed by their teammates further up the pitch.

England defender Ashley Cole

Legends in the making:

Beth Mead, Harry Kane, Leah Williamson, Mary Earps

These are the players who are well on their way to becoming all-time legends for England – but not just yet.

Harry Kane is the third in the list of England’s all-time top goalscorers, behind Wayne Rooney and Ellen White.

He captained his country to the Euro 2020 Final, and if he leads England to World Cup glory later this year, he will be propelled up these rankings.

England star Beth Mead

Beth Mead, Leah Williamson and Mary Earps were all key players for the Lionesses as they won Euro 2022. This is already a historic accomplishment, but with these stars at the peak of the respective careers, there’s still room for further stunning achievements.

Oh, and Earps dancing on a press conference table after winning Euro 2022? A true legend in the making.

England striker Harry Kane

Fan’s favourites:

Lucy Bronze, Rachel Yankey, David Beckham, Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker, Jill Scott, Raheem Sterling

These players are some of the most iconic to have played for England. They have all made a significant contribution during the matches and tournaments they’ve played in.

Lucy Bronze’s screamers against Norway at the 2015 and 2019 Women’s World Cup? David Beckham’s free-kick which secured qualification for the 2002 World Cup? Raheem Sterling’s opener against Germany at Euro 2020? Iconic, iconic, iconic.

Don’t forget Rachel Yankey, Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker and Jill Scott, who have hundreds of England caps between them.

England's Lucy Bronze

England’s elite:

Ellen White, Fara Williams, Faye White, Gordon Banks, Geoff Hurst, Wayne Rooney, Paul Gascoigne, Bobby Moore, Marieanne Spacey, Peter Shilton

We have been truly blessed to watch this group of players in an England shirt.

Let’s start with Wayne Rooney and Ellen White, the all-time top goalscorers for the men and women’s national teams.

Rooney, who has 53 goals for England to his name, could well be overtaken by White, who is currently on 52 goals.

England star Wayne Rooney

Fara Williams is England’s most capped player of all time, with 172 caps, while Peter Shilton is the most capped male player with 125 appearances.

Gordon Banks, Geoff Hurst and Bobby Moore were all part of England’s World Cup winning side in 1966, Marieanne Spacey and Faye White pushed the women’s team forward with their sheer quality and perseverance, and Paul Gascoigne was just a magical, magical player.

England's Faye White

The Greatest:

Bobby Charlton, Kelly Smith

We’ve reached the top of our rankings, and we’ve been joined by two GOATS.

Both Bobby Charlton and Kelly Smith are two of the greatest footballers to grace the pitch, and both scored an impressive amount of goals for England.

Charlton scored 49, helping his side to World Cup glory in 1966. Smith hit the back of the net 46 times, becoming one of the most recognisable female footballers of her generation.

England legend Bobby Charlton

What do you think?

It’s likely not everyone will be in agreement with this exact ranking, but it’s surely impossible to disagree with the fact that some incredible players have starred for England over the years.

And with the men’s team reaching the Euro 2020 Final and the women’s side winning Euro 2022, the future looks very bright.

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