Best Wolverhampton Wanderers XI of All Time
Winning three first-tier league trophies, 4 FA Cups, and two League Cups, Wolverhampton Wanderers is one of the biggest English clubs due to their massive history. Here, we learn more about this huge club as we walk through the Wolves' rich history.
Thanks to a brilliant take-over by the Chinese conglomerate group Fosun International in 2016, Wolves earned promotion back to the Premier League in 2018. Wolves' return to the Premier League resulted in a seventh-place finish in their first season back, their highest placing in the top division since finishing sixth in 1979–80. This position also earned them a place in the Europa League and their first European campaign since 1980–81. Since then, the club have been highly lauded for their playing style as they succeeded to earn their spot in the first half of the Premier League table.
However, Wolves fans are not strange to success as their dominant side in the 50s that won three Football League First Division was one of the most successful sides in the post-war period. The club have also enjoyed several cup successes, such as the League Cup triumph in 1974 and the FA Cup success in 1960.
Currently 8th in the Premier League table with Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez as the best player on Wolverhampton 2021, we take a look at the Wolves’ history as we pick the bestWolverhampton Wanderers
XI of all time.
Honors of Wolverhampton Wanderers
Among the honors of Wolves we can mention these honors:
Champions (3) in 1953–54, 1957–58, 1958–59
Winners (4) in 1892–93, 1907–08, 1948–49, 1959–60
Winners (4) in 1949, 1954, 1959, 1960
Winners (2) in 1973–74, 1979–80
FA Charity Shield
Football League Cup
Runners-up (1) in 1971–72
All You Need to Know About Best Wolverhampton Wanderers XI of All Time
Set out in a 3-2-3-2 formation, we've compiled Wolves’ greatest players into one fearsome team. Players that have played at least two seasons were considered eligible for selection. Here, we face the best Watford players ever and learn more about this huge Premier League club. We will have some comparisons between players in the list with the current Wolverhampton squad 2021.
GK: Bert Williams
We start the
best Wolverhampton Wanderers XI of all time
with one of the finest English goalkeepers since the second world war, Bert Williams.
Nicknamed 'The Cat', Williams was Signed from Walsall in 1945 as he made his official debut on 31 August 1946 in a 6–1 win over Arsenal. He was essential when he gained his first Wolves’ honor in the 1949 FA Cup as the team lifted the FA Cup after defeatingLeicester City
. He won the league title with Wolves in 1953–54 as well before retiring in 1959. In a total of 14 years, Williams played 420 games for the club as well.
His official international debut came in Paris in 1949, when England won 3-1 and with a superb display at home against Italy in the same year, Williams secured the succession. Williams was England's goalkeeper the following year in the World Cup finals, and it was hardly his fault that they should fail so embarrassingly. He kept a clean sheet when Chile were beaten 2-0 in Rio in the opening game. Then came catastrophe; a 1-0 defeat by a scratch team from the US, followed by defeat against Spain by the same score. Williams won a total of 24 full England caps between 1949 and 1955, his last against Wales.
Williams was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2010 Birthday Honours for services to football and charity. After ending his football career, he ran a sports shop in Bilston, a sporting centre, and lived near Shifnal in Shropshire.
CB: Stan Cullis
Undoubtedly one of the best Wolverhampton players ever, Cullis served the club for 13 years as a player from 1934 to 1947. Were it not for the Second World War, Cullis may have gone on to achieve more in his playing career.
However, after retirement, in June 1948, aged just 31, Cullis became manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers and presided over the most successful era in the club's history, serving the club for another 16 years.
The centre-half was known to love dribbling out of his own half and his ball skills suggest he wouldn't have looked out of place in the modern game. The England international captained the club to two consecutive runner-up places in the First Division in the late 1930s, as well as a FA Cup final appearance againstPortsmouth
in 1939. However, when the Second World War started it took away many of the best years of Cullis's career.
When England played Germany in Berlin on 14 May 1938, Cullis refused to join the rest of his teammates in performing a Nazi salute before the match. Cullis, the only player to refuse, was dropped from the team; England won the match 6–3. When competitive football resumed in England in 1946–47, Cullis played just one more season for Wolves, in which the club once again narrowly missed out on a first league title.
Liverpool’s messiah,Bill Shankly
, wrote in tribute to Cullis:
"While Stan was volatile and outrageous in what he said, he never swore. And he could be as soft as mash. He would give you his last penny. Stan was 100 percent Wolverhampton. His blood must have been of old gold. He would have died for Wolverhampton. Above all, Stan is a very clever man who could have been successful at anything. When he left Wolverhampton, I think his heart was broken and he thought the whole world had come down on top of him. All round, as a player, as a manager, and for general intelligence, it would be difficult to name anyone since the game began who could qualify to be in the same class as Stan Cullis."
CB: John McAlle
Continuing through the best Wolverhampton Wanderers XI of all time, we reach John McAlle at centre-back, who played over 500 games for the Wolves.
McAlle joined Wolves as an apprentice in July 1965, turning professional in February 1967. He made his first-team debut on 29 April 1968, in a 1–0 defeat at Chelsea. Like the current Wolverhampton squad 2021 captain, Connor Coady, McAlle was from Liverpool and was known to his teammates as Scouse.
McAlle was the club's first-choice centre-back throughout most of the 1970s. During this period he played in the 1972 UEFA Cup final and won the League Cup in 1974. European football is the source of John McAlle’s finest memories from his time as a lynchpin in the Wolves defense.
McAlle’s long career at Wolves finally ended in August 1981, when he joined Sheffield United for £10,000 after he was not offered a contract extension. In total McAlle played 508 games for the Midlanders, making him the fifth highest-serving player in their history.
McAlle moved into landscape gardening after football, and in recognition of his outstanding service to Wolverhampton Wanderers, he was inducted into their 'Hall Of Fame' in May 2015.
On his best game at Wolves, McAlle said:
“The League Cup final at Wembley was, I suppose, one of the best games I ever played and one of the best games the team ever played. We were up for it, we were the underdogs, but were focused and it was a great day.”
CB: Billy Wright
The third centre-back in the best Wolverhampton Wanderers XI of all time is England legend, Billy Wright, who was the first-ever footballer to reach 100 international caps for England and captained the team a record 90 times. With Wright leading the team, they won the First Division title three times as well as the FA Cup in 1949. He was a virtual ever-present, missing only 31 games for Wolves during the 1950s. He retired from playing in 1959, a year before Wolves won another FA Cup. He made a total of 541 appearances both at and away from Molineux for Wolves. He was also Runner up in 1957 for the Ballon d’Or award missing out on it to Real Madrid’sAlfredo Di Stéfano
, making him one of the
best Wolverhampton players ever
His performances for the club saw him earn a call-up to the England team. He made his international debut on 19 January 1946 in a 2–0 win over Belgium. His full debut came on 28 September 1946 in a thumping 7–2 win against Ireland. He was made captain in 1948, a role he held for 90 games until his retirement. As of the present, Wright remains the ninth most capped player ever to have played for England being in possession of more caps than players such as Bryan Robson, Kenny Sansom, Ray Wilkins, Kevin Keegan, and Alan Shearer.
Wright went on to be appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire on 13 June 1959 and died from pancreatic cancer on 3 September 1994, aged 70. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered on the pitch at Molineux.
DM: Ron Flowers
Another player from the successful 1950s team, Ron Flowers is the next entry in
the best Wolverhampton Wanderers XI of all time
Flowers was spotted as a schoolboy playing for Edlington grammar school and then Yorkshire Boys. He developed his talents at Wath Wanderers, then a nursery team for Wolves, and signed for the Midlands club as a professional on his 18th birthday.
An attacking midfielder who created for others and scored some spectacular goals himself, Flowers played over 500 games for Wolves, spending 15 years at the club, and like Wright, he won three First Division titles and an FA Cup during his time at the club. He scored 37 goals for the club as in the latter stages of his career he played a more defensive role. He left Wolves in September 1967 to join Northampton Town, where he later became player/manager.
Flowers won 49 caps for England and scored ten goals. His international debut came on 15 May 1955 in a 1–0 friendly defeat to France. He was a member of the squad that won the 1966 World Cup, being the oldest and earliest-capped member of the squad.
Flowers was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2021 New Year Honours for services to football and on 12 November 2021, it was announced that Flowers had died aged 87.
DM: Kenny Hibbitt
as a perfect candidate for the best player on Wolverhampton 2021 as well as one of the finest defensive midfielders in the Premier League, he can still learn a lot from the Wolves’ legend, Kenny Hibbitt.
Starting his senior career with his hometown club Bradford, Hibbitt joined Wolverhampton Wanderers for £5,000 in November 1968 as the midfielder served the club superbly for a decade and a half.
During that time, his tenacity and passing ability in midfield ought to have brought him international honors. He could score goals, too, and was deadly from the penalty spot, never more so than in 1974–5 when he hit home nine penalties, helping to make him the club’s top scorer with 17 goals.
He hit the opening goal when the Wolves beat Manchester City 2–1 at Wembley to win the Football League Cup in 1974 and was still in the side when the trophy was won again in 1980 after a win over Nottingham Forest in the final. He finally left Wolves in 1984 on a free transfer. In total, he played 544 games for Wolves, scoring 114 goals; the second most appearances a player has made in Wolves history.
Hibbitt now works for the Premier League, reviewing the performances of the referees. He also assists in training local football team Kingswood who play in the Gloucestershire County League.
LM: Jimmy Mullen
With Adama Traore as the
best player on Wolverhampton 2021
, Wolves were never short of awesome wingers. Mullen spent his whole career at Wolverhampton Wanderers where he won three English Football League championships and the FA Cup.
An England schoolboy international, Mullen chose to join Wolves rather than his hometown club Newcastle United. The left-winger spent over 20 seasons at Molineux. He was given his debut by manager Frank Buckley when only 16. He was a key member of the side who reached Wembley again ten years later and beat Leicester City 3–1. By that time, Mullen had played for England and in 1950 made history by becoming his country’s first substitute in a full international.
During wartime, he served as a soldier in the Army from 1942 onward, based at Farnborough, Catterick, and Barnard Castle. He played in the 1950 FIFA World Cup and the 1954 FIFA World Cup for England, earning a total of 12 caps, scoring 6 goals.
After retiring from football, he ran a sports shop in Wolverhampton until shortly before his death on 23 October 1987.
AM: Peter Broadbent
Both Sir Alex Ferguson andGeorge Best
’s favorite player when they were young, Peter Broadbent is the next entry in the best Wolverhampton Wanderers XI of all time.
Broadbent started his career with non-league Dover FC until he was signed by Brentford. He only spent a short time there before he was snapped up by Wolves in February 1951 for a £10,000 fee. He went on to score 145 goals in 497 appearances for the Wolves between 1951 and 1964, a period when the club was a major force in the Football League, winning three league titles and an FA Cup.
In Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1958, Broadbent was surprisingly chosen to make his international debut in the vital World Cup play-off game against the USSR and went on to earn a total of 7 international caps.
Despite Wolves’ style of playing long balls, Broadbent was a privileged figure in being allowed somewhat more time on the ball. Though he was best known as a maker rather than a scorer of goals, he could get them too and helped Wolves to the First Division championship in 1953-54, 1957-58, and again in 1958-59.
In January 1965, Broadbent was transferred to Third Division Shrewsbury Town and retired in 1971 at Bromsgrove Rovers.
After retirement, he opened a shop in Halesowen called Babyland with his wife, Shirley, whom he married in March 1956. Broadbent died on 1 October 2013 aged 80 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
RM: Johnny Hancocks
One player who surely could help the
Wolverhampton squad 2021
with goals and assists he could bring from the right-wing is Johnny Hancocks. Standing at just over five feet tall, the winger had magic in his feet and formed a magnificent wide partnership with Jimmy Mullen.
One of the key members of Wolves’ great side in the 1950s, Hancocks scored 168 goals for Wolves in 378 appearances, making him the fourth-highest goalscorer in the club's history.
He joined Walsall from Oakengates Town in August 1938 and scored nine goals in 30 games in his first season. However, His football career was interrupted by the Second World War as he joined the British Army in 1940 and like many professional footballers became a physical training instructor.
In May 1946 he was signed by Wolves for a fee of £4,000. He made his league debut on 11th May 1946 against Arsenal in the 1946-47 season Wolves finished in third place. In his first season, he scored 9 goals and in the following season, he was even more prolific, finishing as joint top scorer (alongside Jesse Pye) with 16 goals.
Hancocks enjoyed success at club level as he collected an FA Cup winners medal in 1949, playing in the 3-1 final win over Leicester City, and later scored in the subsequent Charity Shield draw with Portsmouth. His goals helped fire Wolves to their first league title in 1953–54. He finished as a top goalscorer for the club in the 1954–55 and 1955–56 seasons.
In total, Hancocks scored 168 goals for Wolves in 378 appearances, making him the fourth-highest goalscorer in the club's history. His tally of 158 top-flight goals is still a club record. However, after a season out in the cold, he left the Molineux club to become player/manager of non-league Wellington Town in 1957.
After his playing career, he worked at the ironfounders Maddock & Sons in his native Oakengates, until taking retirement on his 60th birthday in 1979. He died on 19 February 1994 aged 74.
ST: John Richards
One of the best Wolverhampton players ever, John Richards was nicknamed 'King John' by the fans as managed to win two league cups with the club. His strikes helped the club reach the UEFA Cup final in 1972, where they lost 3-2 toTottenham
Richards’s natural instincts as a goal-getter continued to serve the club well as his greatest moment came at Wembley in 1974. He hit the winning goal against Manchester City as a 2–1 win brought the Football League Cup to Molineux. Six years later he was in the team who won the same trophy with a 1–0 win over European champions Nottingham Forest.
During his time with the Wolves, Richards became Wolves' all-time leading scorer with 194 goals in total, a record that was subsequently bettered by Steve Bull in 1992. However, he still holds the club record for the most FA Cup goals, with 24.
Following a loan spell at Derby County, Richards eventually left the club and moved to Portugal in 1983. He played two seasons for C.S. Marítimo, helping the side to promotion.
After retiring as a player, Richards went into local government in Wolverhampton and Cannock; later returning to Wolves as a director in 1994, then as managing director in 1997
However, although he is one of the Wolves’ all-time top goal scorers, he only managed to get one cap for England in a 2-1 win over Northern Ireland.
ST: Steve Bull
Last but certainly not the least in the
best Wolverhampton Wanderers XI of all time
, Steve Bull is the club’s most prolific goal scorer. He scored a total of 306 goals for the club, including 18 hat-tricks.
After signing from West Bromwich Albion for £65,000, Bull's debut for Wolves was against Wrexham on 22 November 1986 in the Fourth Division.
In 1988 Bull had arguably his greatest season ever scoring 52 goals in all competition and helping Wolves win the Football League Trophy and equally as important helping them to win the Fourth Division (League Two) the same year. The year after he managed to replicate his impeccable performance by scoring another 50 goals and helping the club pick the Third division (League 1) title.
While still playing in the Third Division, he was selected for the England team and scored on his debut against Scotland at Hampden Park. 37 of his goals that season came in the league for the Wolves. Bull remained a prolific goalscorer in the second tier of the English league and stayed loyal to his Midlands roots despite interest from the likes of Coventry City andNewcastle United
as the local Express and Star newspaper launched a campaign to keep him at Wolves.
He came close to achieving his ambition of reaching the Premier League in 1995 and 1997, but Wolves lost in the playoffs both times. On 13 July 1999, at the age of 34, Bull finally admitted defeat in his battle to fully regain fitness and announced his retirement after 13 years with Wolves. He received an MBE for services to Association Football in December 1999, shortly after retiring as a first-class player.
In over 13 years at Wolves, Bull broke no less than four of the club's goalscoring records. He became their all-time leading goalscorer with 306 goals in competitive games and became the club’s highest goalscorer in a single season when he scored 52 goals in competitive games during the 1987–88 season. Bull also scored a club record of 18 hat-tricks.
Bull is regarded as a legend at Wolves and one of the main stands at their home ground, Molineux, is named after him. Bull was also capped 13 times by England, and scored 4 goals, all coming in the buildup to Italia 90.
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