Join us as we take a closer look at English football history to find out who are the most decorated English players of all time:
The English football history is the oldest there is in the world, since it was in this country that the game that we now know as football invented, stretching back all the way to the 1850s where the Sheffield Rules were introduced and the game of football is more or less acting on the same rules still to this day. So, with that long history, there obviously comes a long list of players that were extremely successful over the years and we are here to discover those players.
Obviously, there has been a lot of talk about the most decorated British player of all time, which comfortably goes to Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs with 34 trophies who is trailed by Kenny Dalglish with 29. But we’re here to take a look at
most decorated English players of all time
and not British ones, so Scottish, Welsh and Irish are not included here.
We have previously talked about the top 10 British footballers of all time, now let’s see if any of those players feature in our list here or not?!
First up we have a legend of both Arsenal and Liverpool, the great Ray Kennedy who dominated English and European football in the 70s. an underrated and quite frankly a tragic figure in English football, Ray Kennedy started his career with theGunners
where he was used as a striker, after his relative decline Kennedy was sold to Liverpool in 1974 for a then-club record and there he was converted into a left-sided midfielder by Bob Paisley, later becoming one of the pillars of the best Liverpool team of all time.
Ray Kennedy has been described by many to be one of the
best English players of all time
as well as that of Liverpool. His excellent first touch, tactical awareness and all-round quality of play, allowed him to smoothly transition into the role of midfield after he joined Liverpool. His time at Liverpool and Arsenal allowed Ray Kennedy to win every domestic trophy there was which included winning the league at both Arsenal and Liverpool, a rare feat on this list.
Known for his size, left-foot strikes and heading ability, Ray Kennedy was able to win 6 First Division titles, 3 European Cups, 2 UEFA Cups, a UEFA Supercup, a League Cup, 4 Charity Shields and an FA Cup, bringing his tally of silverware to 18, making him one of the most decorated English players of all time and a Liverpool legend. However, Kennedy was never favored by the England setup and only earned 17 caps, scoring 3 times.
Kennedy’s life after football took a tragic turn however, as he was diagnosed with the Parkinson’s disease in 1984 and had to deal with it for the rest of his life. His financial situation and personal life went into disarray not soon after. Kennedy passed away a couple of months ago at the age of 70 but let us remember not the painful periods of his life but the time that he ruled the pitch and brought European glory to England!
Next up is one of several Manchester United players to appear on this list of most decorated English players of all time, Michael Carrick., someone who was Sir Alex Ferguson’s secret weapon in the latter part of his managerial career at Manchester United. A product ofWest Ham United
’s academy, Michael Carrick went on to represent his boyhood club for 5 seasons before joiningTottenham
in 2004. There he became one of the best midfielders in EPL and subsequently joined United in 2006, becoming an anchor in the club’s most successful period.
A perfect number 6 that could also be used as a defender or even higher on the pitch as a central midfielder, Michael Carrick was one of the best passers of his time. Carrick was excellent at reading the game and providing the cover for attack-minded players which made him the perfect shield in front of Manchester United’s defense that subsequently allowed the Red Devils to achieve insurmountable success, which made Carrick one of the most decorated footballers in history.
Since some of thebest English players of all time
like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were contemporaries of Carrick in his position, he never got that much chance of playing for England (only 32 caps) but he more than made up for it with the trophies that he won in his 12 seasons at Manchester United.
After winning the Interoto Cup with West Ham in 1999, Carrick won the rest of his honors at United which were 5 Premier League titles, 2 League Cups, an FA Cup, 6 Community Shields, a Club World Cup, a Europa League and a Champions League title. Carrick like Kennedy has won every domestic honor there is in English football and is certainly one of the most decorated English players of all time. Following his time as a footballer, Carrick went into management and last year became the interim manager for his beloved United!
One of the most gifted footballers in Liverpool’s history is the incredible Terry McDermott who joined Liverpool from Newcastle in 1974 and went on to represent Liverpool for more than 7 seasons. Although it took McDermott a couple of seasons to establish himself in Liverpool’s first team, with him not getting enough games to win a winner’s medal for the 1975-76 league title. In the following season though he started playing more regularly and just like became an integral part of the greatest Liverpool side in the 70s and 80s and became one of the most decorated English players of all time.
McDermott was a midfielder that had incredible stamina, winning mentality coupled with great vision and passing ability that made him a deadly playmaker who was able to feed great passes to Liverpool’s forward line and bring numerous amount of goals for Liverpool. He also had an eye for goal himself as he reached double figure number of goals in 3 of his 7 seasons at the club. All of which made him one of the best Liverpool players ever.
With McDermott’s helpLiverpool
won 5 league titles, 3 European Cups, 2 League Cups and a UEFA Cup. His individual achievements also include, scoring the goal of the season in the 1976-77 season, as well as being named Player of the Year in the 1979-80 season. He also was the Champions League top goal scorer in the 1980-81 season where Liverpool won the competition. After 329 games and 81 goals for Liverpool, McDermott left the club in 1982, having established himself as perhaps one of the best English players of all time, and went back to play forNewcastle
before retiring in 1984.
There is often talk of the famous ‘Class of 92’ as Manchester United’s best generation of players. Players that graduated from the club’s academy system in 1992 and all became genuine superstars in the footballing world. But perhaps the most underrated player of that bunch, the one that perhaps unjustly gets talked about a lot less than others, is Nicky Butt. The defensive midfielder who played a similar role to that of Michael Carrick before he ever came to United but with a much more aggressive style.
Growing up in the rougher parts of the city of Manchester taught Butt to be aggressive, something that benefited him a lot as a footballer but not so much outside of football since he has been known to have violent outbursts. Nonetheless, this aggressive nature made him become a great defensive midfielder, one that fitted right into the 1990s style of aggressive midfielders. His partnership with Roy Keane or Paul Scholes allowedFerguson
to have that flexibility in midfield and choose when to play defensively or be more attack-minded with Scholes in their side.
In a career that spanned from 1992 to 2006, Nicky Butt played for 3 different English clubs (Manchester United, Newcastle United andBirmingham City
) but most of his honors came at his time at United where he won six Premier League titles, three FA Cups, four FA Community Shields, the UEFA Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup. He also managed to win the Championship as well as the Intertoto Cup with Newcastle to become one of the
most decorated English players of all time
Being the first genuine superstar in the footballing world, someone that was even recognized by people who weren’t football fans, David Beckham is mostly remembered for his looks and the way he changed a footballer’s image and used his fame to his benefit, something that is become so normal nowadays, but most people often do not talk about how genius a footballer he was and the fact that he could be considered among the
top 10 British footballers of all time
Born and raised in London, David Beckham grew up in a household full of Tottenham or Arsenal supporters but when opportunity came calling, he didn’t hesitate to join Manchester United, becoming a part of that famous Class of 92 squad. As a midfielder, David Beckham was unlike his outside the pitch flashy personality as he tended to be completely in service of the team. Beckham is perhaps one of the best passers that football has ever seen with his long passes and crosses being infamously good.
He was also a great free-kick taker, one of the best of all time in fact, which made him a threat anytime a foul was committed in opposition’s half as Beckham could be deadly from either his crosses or long-range efforts. His goals against Tottenham or Greece with the former allowing Manchester to win the Treble and the latter allowing England to qualify for the 2002 World Cup is further proof of how good he was from the set pieces.
In a career that spanned from Manchester United and saw Beckham play for, Real Madrid, AC Milan,PSG
andLos Angeles Galaxy
, David Beckham won numerous trophies including 6 Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups, a Champions League title, a La Liga title and 2 MLS Cups as well as winning the Ligue 1 with PSG. He was also once runner-up to the Ballon d’Or (1999) and twice the FIFA World Player of the Year (99,01), making him one of the best English players of all time as well as being one of the most decorated English players of all time.
Coming immediately after David Beckham is his best friend, Gary Neville, who is now mostly known for his punditry work for the Sky Sports but in his time as a footballer, Neville was a reliable right back that spent the entirety of his career in Manchester United and was a big part of the numerous trophies that was won during the Sir Alex Ferguson era. Neville’s brother, Phil was also a part of United’s setup in the 90s and early 2000s but Gary’s longevity at United made him one of the most decorated footballers in history.
Although Neville is often not mentioned when there is talk of the best right backs of all time despite his immense trophy cabinet, he was a capable right back for sure. Perhaps the quality that set him apart from others and was the key to his long career at United was his professionalism and work-rate. Neville could cover the whole right flank constantly if that was what Ferguson demanded of him and later in his career he became a good leader as well, making him an invaluable asset for United.
During Garry Neville’s career, the right back won over 20 trophies with Manchester United which included 8 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 2 Champions League titles, 3 Community Shields, 1 Intercontinental Cup and a Club World Cup. He was also named in Premier League Team of the Season on 5 separate occasions. Garry Neville went into management after his retirement but his time atValencia
was brief. However, he will always be remembered as a legend of Manchester United and one of the most decorated English players of all time rather than his time as a manager.
It is fitting that the only goalkeeper on our list of most decorated English players of all time is none other than Ray Clemence since when it comes togoalkeepers
there are a few names who can compete with this Liverpool and Tottenham legend. A huge part of Liverpool’s success during the 1970s, Clemence is one of only 31 players to have over 1000 career appearances but the record that sets him apart is the number of clean sheets he kept throughout his career (460) which is more than any other player in the history of football.
Having gone through the academy ranks at Notts County, Clemence made his debut for Scunthorpe United at the age of 17. He was then brought in Liverpool by then-manager Bill Shankly after two seasons and soon after made his debut for Liverpool and went onto feature for the Reds for over a decade, missing only 6 games and appearing in more than 650 matches.
During his long career that stretched between 1965 and 1988, Clemence won 21 major trophies which included 5 league titles with Liverpool, 1 FA Cup and a League Cup as well as 4 Charity Shields but where he excelled at was winning European trophies as he won 3 European Cups (Champions League), 2 UEFA Cups and a UEFA Supercup with Liverpool as well as winning another UEFA Cup with Tottenham later on his career.
Clemence also managed to win another FA Cup and Charity Shield with Tottenham as well after he joined the club in 1981. He was a regular for England between 1972 and 1983, representing his country in 63 while he excelled at club level by becoming one of the most decorated English players of all time.
For most of the Ray Clemence’s career at Liverpool, it was Phil Thompson that played in front of him at the heart of that amazing Liverpool’s defense. The trio of Phil Thompson and the Scottish Alan Henson in front of the legendary Ray Clemence made Liverpool’s defense nigh impenetrable. A lifetime Liverpool fan, the lanky Phil Thompson was discovered by Bill Shankly when he was playing at youth level but his hard-working mentality took him to the very top of the European football and he became one of the
most decorated footballers in history
Having been a midfielder in his youth academy days, Phil Thompson was brought in to the first time by Bill Shankly in order to gain more dominance over the ball even in defense, something that was very uncommon back then especially in English football. After putting on some weight and gaining some confidence, Thompson proceeded to become one of the best defenders in Liverpool history captaining theReds
to European Cup glory in 1981.
During his 13 seasons at Liverpool between 1971 and 1985, Thompson managed to win 22 trophies with Liverpool which included 7 League titles, 6 Charity Shields, 3 League Cups, 2 UEFA Cups, a UEFA Super Cup and 3 European Cups to top it all off. He also represented England 42 times between 1976 and 1982 and later managed Liverpool in 2001 and 2002, after their manager Gerrard Houlier was on a 6-month sick leave, picking up 2Premier League
Manager of the Month awards.
Despite his massive talent and genius as a defender, it was Thompson’s professionalism and hard-working attitude that in the end made him one of the most decorated English players of all time and that is the legacy that he has left behind in the heart of the Kop faithful.
The last Liverpool player to appear on our list is the legendary right back Phil Neal who was also a part of Liverpool’s success during the 1970s and 1980s. Liverpool is no stranger to having world class right backs, having the likes of Alexander Arnold, but players the like of Phil Neal are hard to come by as he is truly one of thebest right backs of all time
as we previously have highlighted.
Although much of the early and latter stages of Neal’s career came at the lower levels of English football, mostly in Third and Fourth Divisions, the success he achieved in the 11 years he spent at Liverpool is reason enough for to earn him a place as one of the top 10 British footballers of all time.
As a right back Phil Neal was aggressively attack minded, so much so that his various forays into attack earned him the nickname Zico after the legendary Brazilian player. Like a lot of the modern right backs today, Neal tended to drift into the middle of the park as well to create either shoot or find a passing opportunity, making him almost as much a great underlapping fullback as he was an overlapping one. He was also a great penalty-kick taker which resulted in him scoring over 59 goals for Liverpool in all competitions.
Phil Neal ended up winning the English top-flight 8 times as well as winning four League Cups, five FA Charity Shields, four European Cups, one UEFA Cup and one UEFA Super Cup. This amount of dizzying accomplishments at the club level makes him one of the most decorated English players of all time and certainly one of the most underrated players out there. Throughout Neal’s career, he changed how the role of a fullback was received, especially in English football, which makes him one of the most important players in the role considering how much of a big role fullbacks play in today’s football.
The last but certainly not the least amongst the
most decorated English players of all time
is the Manchester United legend, Paul Scholes. One of thebest midfielders in the Premier League
era and someone that Is mentioned often in discussions regarding the best English midfielders of all time, Paul Scholes was another part of the Class of 92 and spent his entire career with the Red Devils. At the club level, there are not many trophies that Scholes failed to win between 1993 and 2013. He was such a faithful servant of Manchester United that he came out of retirement in 2011 just to help the club, which of course earned him more trophies
As part of the famous Class of 92 youth team, Scholesy played alongside players like Beckham, Neville, Butt and Giggs and broke into the first team of Manchester United in 1994 and achieved great success under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson. Scholes played the entirety of his career at United and became the most decorated English players of all time by winning 11 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 5 Community Shields, 2 Club World Cups and 2 Champions League titles with United.
Scholes was a quintessential English midfielder, able to either fight for regaining possession in midfield or trying to create chances for his teammates. He was also one of the best in Premier League history when it come to long-range efforts and volleys, with him scoring some of the most outrageous goals in the competitions history. Since Scholes was attack minded, he was usually partnered with the likes of Roy Keane, Nicky Butt or Michael Carrick. In regards to his abilities, Paul Scholes was once described by Xavi as one of the best central midfielders he had seen in the past 2 decades.
Paul Scholes appeared in 718 matches in Manchester United’s shirt and scored 155 goals with his best coming in the 2002-03 season where he scored 20 goals as a midfielder. He also assisted 55 goals in Premier League alone which just shows how much of an influence he had on all those trophies won by United. A legend of the Red Devils, Paul Scholes is truly one of the best English players of all time.
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