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The greatest England internationals of all time - ranked

Mitchell Wilks
David Beckham had a love-hate relationship with England fans, but was an all-time great nonetheless
David Beckham had a love-hate relationship with England fans, but was an all-time great nonetheless / Phil Cole/Getty Images
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Gareth Southgate suckered in English people across the country when his England side made it to the last four of the 2018 World Cup. And while the nation is currently witnessing a boom of talented players, we've been here plenty of times before. Not with the waistcoats, though - keep them around for good fun.

90min has collated the pick of the bunch and ranked the top 30 greatest players to represent the Three Lions.

DISCLAIMER - Olly Murs does not make the cut, no matter how often he wishes to wear the kit for Soccer Aid in an attempt to earn a call-up.


30. Harry Kane

Harry Kane
Kane has a high ceiling for England / Fred Lee/Getty Images

It's a little risky putting in Kane considering he still has plenty left to do in an England shirt, but his 2018 World Cup exploits saw him become the first English player to win a Golden Boot at the tournament since 1986.

Should his ankles not crumble away, there's plenty of time for Kane to chase down some more records.

29. Stuart Pearce

Stuart Pearce
An image that says all you need to know about Pearce / Stu Forster/Getty Images

Perhaps a touch controversial, but England's resident hard nut has to be on the list.

'Psycho' Pearce worked his way up from non-league football and earned his first England cap in 1987. His greatest triumph in an England shirt was that penalty and celebration against Spain. Get in.

28. Des Walker

Des Walker of England is tackled by Hans Gilhaus of Holland
Great player, equally as great kit / Inpho Photography/Getty Images

Walker starred for England having impressed domestically with Nottingham Forest and was renowned for his defensive mind and excellent positional awareness.

He was a regular feature in the squad that made the 1990 World Cup semi-finals, enjoying a fine run in the tournament personally.

27. Darren Anderton

ENGLAND V URUGUAY
Injuries hampered Anderton's impact / Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

Injuries plagued Anderton's career from start to finish, but he still managed to forge a decent international career with England.

Seven goals from his 30 caps doesn't sound particularly special, but the winger was always included in the most important squads throughout the 1990s when available. Also rocked the greatest curtains hairstyle ever.

26. Paul Ince

England v Holland
Ince shares a laugh with Gazza / Stu Forster/Getty Images

The tenacious midfielder splits opinion for returning to England with Liverpool following a spell in Serie A having previously played for Manchester United, but Ince was undoubtedly one of the greats of the 90s.

When not being de-pantsed by Paul Gascoigne while trying to climb walls, he was covering for him in midfield at tournaments for the Three Lions.

25. Viv Anderson

Viv Anderson
Anderson's involvement in the England setup was incredible / Simon Bruty/Getty Images

Anderson was Sir Alex Ferguson's first ever signing as Manchester United boss and earned plaudits for his hard-line, effective approach to defending.

He was the first ever black man to play in a full international for England and made 30 caps, travelling for both the Spain and Mexico World Cups in the 1980s. A massively underrated player who was unfortunate not to feature more regularly.

24. Terry Butcher

Diego Maradona, Terry Butcher
Butcher holds up Diego Maradona / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

We've all seen the picture, haven't we?

A bloodied and bandaged Terry Butcher donned a crimson mask after splitting his head open against Sweden in 1989, gifting your dad his favourite image ever. Butcher's England career spanned across ten years as an always reliable centre back (even when likely concussed).

23. Glenn Hoddle

Glenn Hoddle
A touch ahead of his time. / Getty Images/Getty Images

Before he was a part of a questionable commentary panel on television, Glenn Hoddle was actually a really good footballer.

A seriously creative and technical player which put him ahead of the curve in the 80s, Hoddle was somewhat overlooked in an era that prioritised work rate. When given the chance, though, he excelled and brought all the flair and technical grace that England needed more often.

22. Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand
Cornrows Ferdinand was a strange time... / Stu Forster/Getty Images

Everyone's favourite footballer turned incredibly successful boxer, Rio Ferdinand was immense in his prime.

He won the lot at club level with Manchester United and thrived for England throughout the 2000s, racking up 81 caps and going to four World Cups - all while rocking some questionable haircuts along the way.

21. Michael Owen

Michael Owen
Michael Owen celebrates against Germany / Ben Radford/Getty Images

Ironicially, it was injuries suffered while away with England that basically ended his career.

Owen was electric in his earlier years and won a Ballon d'Or in 2001 following his incredible rise in the late 90s, but an ACL injury suffered at the 2006 World Cup seem to be the undoing of him at the top level. Still, he's the country's fifth highest goalscorer ever - which is pretty damn impressive.

20. Billy Wright

George Young, Billy Wright
Wright leads out England / Central Press/Getty Images

It's difficult to truly compare footballers from the early 20th century to those who play today's game. But while Billy Wright played his football around the second World War, nobody can deny his legacy.

A traditional centre half, Wright was the first footballer to reach 100 international caps and captained England a whopping 90 times.

19. Sol Campbell

Sol Campbell
Some say Campbell is still sliding / Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Campbell earned 73 caps throughout an incredible international career that lasted over a decade, and represented the Three Lions at six consecutive major tournaments.

The greatest of those 73 caps? The one against Croatia in 2007 that resulted in his infamous, never ending slide tackle.

18. John Terry

John Terry of England (C) celebrates sco
Terry celebrates a goal / IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

A physical presence and a true leader of men, Terry was one of several talented defenders that England had at their disposal in the 2000s.

Nobody loved a classic England shirt and a pair of Umbro football boots more than JT.

17. Bryan Robson

Demark v England Bryan Robson
Robson captains England against Denmark / Ben Radford/Getty Images

'They don't make 'em like that anymore' says your dad about everything that happened ever in the past. They're right when they say it about Bryan Robson, though.

The leader of all leaders, Robbo scored what was once the fastest goal ever at a World Cup when he bagged after 27 seconds against France in 1982. Injuries blighted the midfielder's later years, but he still brought a lot to the squad.

16. Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole
Cole in action at Euro 2012 / Ian Walton/Getty Images

Oh, Ashley.

Years and years spent working tirelessly to forge a reputation as one of England's greatest ever defenders for club and country. All of that thrown away with one endlessly awkward team photo at Roma in 2014.

15. Sir Tom Finney

Tom Finney
Finney is held in seriously high regard / Fox Photos/Getty Images

Again it's difficult to place footballers from wayyy back in the day, but no one can deny that Finney was one of the best of his generation.

Finney bagged 30 goals from 76 England caps after the second World War and retired from the professional game as a one club man, having only played for Preston competitively.

14. Peter Shilton

Peter Shilton in action for England
Shilton put together a long and storied England career / Getty Images/Getty Images

Shilton's 125 England caps is an unbelievable feat and a testament to just how reliable he was for the Three Lions from 1970 to 1990.

But please Peter - for the sake of the game - let go of the Maradona incident. Please.

13. Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard
Miles over the line. / Clive Mason/Getty Images

One of the most complete midfielders to ever play the game, Frank Lampard loved a goal and could always be called upon for England.

Society would definitely have flying cars by now had his goal versus Germany at the 2010 World Cup hadn't been wrongly disallowed. Nailed on.

12. Paul Gascoigne

Paul Gascoigne
Everyone's favourite mad man / Getty Images/Getty Images

Arguably the most talented Englishman to ever play the game.

Gazza's extraordinary talents yielded ten goals from 57 caps. His tears, his goal against Scotland, etc. etc.

His England career is an iconic one.

11. Sir Stanley Matthews

BLACKPOOL MATCH
Matthews playing for Blackpool / Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Dubbed 'the wizard of the dribble', Matthews put together an incredible 23-year long England career that sees him hold the record for the oldest player to turn out for the Three Lions at 42 years and 104 days.

10. Alan Shearer

England v Holland
The trademark Shearer arm raise / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

30 goals from 63 England caps is one hell of a record for the Geordie hero.

Alan Shearer's finest hour in an England shirt came at Euro 96, where his five goals won him the Golden Boot and dragged England to the semi finals.

9. Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker
Hasn't changed a bit / Getty Images/Getty Images

Everyone's favourite Match of the Day host actually played football himself once upon a time.

He wasn't bad either.

Lineker's six goals at the 1986 World Cup made him the first Englishman to win a Golden Boot at the tournament.

8. Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard
Gerrard was always counted on for England / Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Lampard and Steven Gerrard for England were the nation's sweethearts throughout the 'golden generation'. And while no manager could work out how to play them alongside one another (ever heard of a 4-3-3 Sven?), Gerrard still enjoyed a wonderful career for the Three Lions.

7. Jimmy Greaves

Jimmy Greaves
Greaves in action versus Uruguay / Getty Images/Getty Images

Among all of the England greats, Jimmy Greaves' name slips under the radar a fair bit.

It's completely unfair, though. Greaves has scored six (!) hat-tricks for the Three Lions and was denied a place in the 1966 final only through an injury. Bitterly unlucky for such a talented player, who racked up 44 goals in 57 caps.

6. David Beckham

David Beckham
Beckham made amends with that free-kick / Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

England fans went through pretty much everything with David Beckham, casting him as public enemy number one following a red card at the 1998 World Cup, to the unbridled joy he gave fans with his penalty against Argentina and the most unbelievably amazing free kick ever against Greece (no exaggeration).

A true Three Lions legend.

5. Sir Geoff Hurst

Geoff Hurst
Hurst bagged a hat-trick in England's biggest game ever / Express/Getty Images

The man that replaced an injured Greaves for the 1966 World Cup final.

As you have all heard literally a billion times, Hurst scored a hat-trick in that final to help England to a 4-2 victory and their only World Cup to date. Legendary.

4. Gordon Banks

Gordon Banks
Banks made goalkeepers endlessly cool / Getty Images/Getty Images

Banks was between the sticks for every game in England's 1966 World Cup campaign and was always relied upon to pull out a top performance when needed.

Beyond that involved some personal heroics in the 1970 World Cup to deny Pele on a number of occasions, including that save from the Brazilian's headed effort. Banks was truly one of the greatest.

3. Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney
Rooney is England's all-time top goalscorer / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

A little controversial, but it's hard to judge England on success when their most recent major success came over 50 years ago.

Rooney remains England's youngest scorer at 17 and, despite ups and downs, went on to become the nation's record scorer to cement his legacy among England's greats.

2. Sir Bobby Moore

Alan Ball, Bobby Charlton, Ray Wilson, Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Nobby Stiles, Jack Charlton
Moore lifts the World Cup / Central Press/Getty Images

Cited by Pele as the greatest defender he ever played against, West Ham legend Bobby Moore is one the greatest England captain of all time.

108 caps, a World Cup and an ungodly number of heroic performances throughout his England career.

1. Sir Bobby Charlton

Wayne Rooney, Sir Bobby Charlton
Charlton is England's greatest ever player / Clive Rose/Getty Images

The iconic Bobby Charlton tops the lot.

The goal-scoring midfielder is the second greatest goalscorer in the country's history (he was a midfielder) and he was the world class attacking talent who made the 1966 triumph possible.

The best to ever do it.


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