Football is the most popular sport in England, where the first modern set of regulations for the game were formed in 1863 and had a significant impact on the creation of the Laws of the Game. England's national football team is one of just eight teams to have won the World Cup once, in 1966. The UEFA Champions League, often known as the European Cup, has been won by five English club teams. They may not have been the most successful footballing nation in history, but they have produced a number of famous players through the years.
There have been many highs and lows in the history of the English national team, but some great players have worn the Three Lions' colours in the interim. Keeping that in mind, here we take a look at the top 10 English football legends of all time.
10. Bryan Robson
Bryan Robson joined West Bromwich Albion in 1972 before joining Manchester United in 1981, where he became the club's longest-serving captain and won two Premier League winners' medals, four FA Cups, two FA Charity Shields, and a European Cup Winners' Cup. Robson appeared in 90 matches for the Three Lions between 1980 and 1991, and was always a strong figure on the field. Robson played 90 times for England between 1980 and 1991, making him the fifth-most capped England player at the time. Robson tried his hand at management after his playing days were done, but it did not go as well as his playing career.
9. Gary Lineker
Over the course of an eight-year international career, Lineker earned 80 caps and scored 48 goals for England. He won the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup after scoring six goals in that tournament, followed by four more goals at the 1990 World Cup. Lineker added 38 more goals to his total of 48 in his England career, putting him second all-time in goals scored.
8. Kevin Keegan
Kevin began his professional football career in 1968 with Scunthorpe United, before moving to Liverpool in 1971. Keegan won three First Division titles with Liverpool, as well as the UEFA Cup twice, the FA Cup, and the European Cup. In 1972, he earned his first England cap, and in the summer of 1977, he joined Hamburger SV in West Germany. He won the Bundesliga title in 1978–79 and reached the European Cup final in 1980 with Hamburg, where he was voted European Footballer of the Year in 1978 and 1979. However, since England failed to qualify for both the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, he only made one appearance. In 1982, he finally made it to a World Cup final when England advanced to the finals in Spain.
7. David Beckham
Beckham made his international debut in 1996, and during his illustrious career with the national team, he won 115 caps, the second most in English history. He is the first English player to win league championships in four different countries: England, Spain, the United States, and France. At the age of 21, he earned his England debut on September 1, 1996. He served as captain for six years, gaining 58 caps in the process. In 1998, 2002, and 2006, he played in three FIFA World Cup events and two UEFA European Championship competitions.
6. Frank Lampard
Lampard is one of only nine players in Premier League history to score 150 goals or more, and the only midfielder to do so. With 102 assists, he is fourth in the Premier League's all-time assists list. After earning his England debut in 1999, he played 106 times for the national team. In 2006, 2010, and 2014, he represented his country at three FIFA World Cups, as well as UEFA Euro 2004, where he was named to the Team of the Tournament. Lampard was named England Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005 after scoring 29 goals for his country.
5. Steven Gerrard
With 114 caps and 21 goals, Gerrard is England's fourth most capped player. He made his England debut in 2000 and has since competed in the UEFA European Championships in 2000, 2004, and 2012, as well as the FIFA World Cups in 2006, 2010, and 2014. He was named England's permanent captain soon before the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament, when he was named to the UEFA Team of the Tournament. In 2014, he declared his departure from international football. Gerrard is one of the few English footballers who has only ever played for one club, Liverpool.
4. Peter Shilton
With 125 caps for the Three Lions, Peter Shilton is the most capped English footballer of all time. In 1972, Shilton was named England's first-choice goalkeeper. Shilton was named England's No. 1 goalkeeper in 1972 and remained in that position until 1990. His club career spanned 11 clubs, and he appeared in over 100 league games for five of them. Shilton won many trophies during his time at Nottingham Forest, including the First Division title, two European Cups, a UEFA Super Cup, and the Football League Cup. He also played in the 1980 UEFA Euro, 1982 FIFA World Cup, 1986 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 1988, and 1990 FIFA World Cup for England.
3. Alan Shearer
Shearer is the Premier League's record goalscorer and is widely regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation and one of the greatest players in the league's history. He was a prolific goal scorer for his team, and his eye for goal did not fade when he represented England. Shearer only had 63 caps for England, but he was a key player for the Three Lions when he did. Shearer left international football in 2000 but continued to play club football for another six years.
2. Bobby Moore
Bobby Moore is most known for being the captain of the England national side that won the 1966 FIFA World Cup. He played for West Ham United for more than 10 years and captained the club for more than 10 years. Under the guidance of manager Alf Ramsey, Moore guided England to their first and only World Cup victory on home soil. Moore gained 108 caps over the course of 11 years, with his only two goals coming in the magical year of 1966, in two friendly matches.
1. Bobby Charlton
Charlton, another member of England's golden generation, is the country's all-time highest goal scorer with 49 goals. He was a member of England's World Cup-winning team in 1966, the same year he won the Ballon d'Or. He spent practically his whole club career at Manchester United. Because he escaped one of the worst football tragedies of all time, the Munich flight disaster in 1958, Charlton almost never got the chance to play for his country.