The Greatest British Footballing Legends of All Time: Our Expert Ranking
If there is one question that’s asked time and time again by football fanatics, it’s who is the best footballing star of all time? Of course, each person will have a completely different view on this. Whether they stick to a legend who’s played for their club or are more open-minded and see the bigger picture, there is no denying that some football stars rank higher than others.
From generational talents to world champions and modern-day greats, here is a run-down on what we believe are the 10 greatest British footballing legends to grace the sport.
Often referred to as one of the greatest footballing stars of the British game, Stanley Matthews is the only player to date to have been knighted and continue playing football. During his career, Matthews enjoyed stints at Stoke City and Blackpool. As the son of a professional boxer, this footballing legend started his professional career with Stoke City in 1932. With his accurate ball control, passing, and balance, he soon became known as the ‘wizard of dribble’. Just a few short years later, Matthews represented England in international matches. Over time, he appeared in 54 full international contests.
Matthews was also named the first European footballer of the year in 1941. In 1946, the star transferred to Blackpool. During his sting at the club, Mathews competed in the 1953 Football Association Cup Final. Known as his most famous game, the star set up Blackpool’s last three goals in the quest to defeat the Bolton Wanderers.
To many, Wayne Rooney is considered one of the greatest football stars of his generation. In fact, Rooney is the record goal scorer, both for Manchester United and the England national team. What’s more, Rooney holds the record for the most appearances of any England outfield player. Born in Liverpool, Rooney burst onto the scene in 1996, playing for Everton under 23’s before going on to play for the main team in 2002.
Over the course of 2 decades, Rooney enjoyed seasons at Everton, Manchester United, D.C. United and Derby County. To date, the footballing star has scored over 230 goals across 569 appearances. Wayne Rooney has also played for England’s national team. There, he enjoyed many successes, including 53 goals across 120 appearances. As of 2022, Rooney is the manager of D.C. United. If you’re a Manchester United fan, you may have placed many bets on Rooney over the years. While he may now be in coaching, why not continue making bets on the best gambling sites?
Bobby Charlton, or Sir Robert Charlton, is another star who is regarded as one of Britain’s greatest footballers. From 1957 to 1973, the star made over 100 international appearances for England which was known as a national record during this time. Charlton was the long-time record goal scorer for the Red Devils and England. What’s more, the footballing legend once held the long-time record for appearances for Manchester United, playing in 758 matches. It took until 2008 for this record to be beaten.
What many Bobby Charlton fans will remember is his victory at the World Cup in 1966 playing for the English national team. Because of this, Charlton was voted European Footballer of the Year. He also captained Manchester United when they were the first English club to earn the European Cup in 1968. After retiring from football, Charlton managed Preston North End and later became the director for Wigan Athletic Football Club. We could go on and on about Charlton’s achievements. But, it’s safe to say the ones listed clearly give him a well-deserved spot on our list.
Alan Shearer is another British footballing legend who we couldn’t miss off our rankings. Shearer possesses the record for the most successful penalties taken in the English Premier League. During his reign, he scored 58 penalties while playing for Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers. Shearer is one of Tyneside’s best-known figures. During his 10-year stint at Newcastle United, the star ended up scoring a record 206 goals.
Since retiring from football in 2006, Shearer has become a football pundit. Regularly seen on match of the Day, Shearer has become a common BBC fixture. Alan Shearer also played for England, most notably seen n the 1998 World Cup. The star played 4 matches and scored 2 goals.
Bobby Moore is widely known by the football community as one of the most successful players of all time. In fact, he is the one and only Three Lions skipper to win the World Cup! Most notably known for playing for West Ham United, Moore made 544 league appearances (a record at the time) scoring 24 goals. Moore also played 49 League Cup games and 36 GA Cup games. His debut started way back in 1958, playing against Manchester United. Moore’s last match for West Ham took place in 1974 against Hereford in the FA Cup.
After leaving West Ham, Moore enjoyed a stint at Fulham before moving across the pond to America. Here, he played for Seattle Sounders, San Antonio Thunder, and Carolina Lightnin’. Moore also had a brief spell in Denmark playing for Herning Fremad.
Last but by no means least, George Best ranks top of our list. Best is arguably the globe’s first true football superstar. The star was one of the premier forwards in football history, not to mention a fashionable playboy off the pitch.
Playing for many years for Manchester United, Best made 361 league appearances for the Red Devils in which he scored 136 goals. Best also holds the post-War record for the most goals by a Manchester United player in a single match – 6 versus Northampton Town. Many regard Best as the most talented Manchester United Player of all.
Of course, we don’t doubt that you may not entirely agree with our list. But, what we will say is all the football legends above have made a significant impact on the sport, and helped their teams to victory, and many are still spoken about and admired decades after they retired from playing football.