Always a challenger, the Three Lions won the World Cup in 1966, but a finals appearance has since eluded them. Needless to say, there have been plenty of star players to have worn the England shirt. Here’s our list of top players to play for one of the oldest teams in football.
With 119 caps and 53 strikes, Wayne Rooney holds the all-time scoring record for England. He joined the national side as a 17-year-old, becoming the youngest player ever to score in the UEFA Euro competition. A physical forward with creative instincts, extraordinary vision, and clinical finishes, Rooney goes down as one of England’s greats.
The 11-year England veteran will forever be remembered as the leader of the Three Lions side that won the 1966 World Cup on home turf. A national icon, Moore earned 108 caps as a poised defender and team captain.
The 4th most capped player for England with 114 games played, Steven Gerrard played in three World Cups, captaining the 2010 and 2014 World Cup sides. Part of the ‘golden generation,’ his side never made it further than the World Cup quarter-finals.
The prolific striker Alan Shearer captained the England side for nearly half of his 60 appearances, scoring 30 goals. Although he only participated in one World Cup with the Three Lions, losing to Argentina in the second round, he led the UEFA Euro 1996 with five goals. He also featured in the UEFA team of the tournament.
Despite 115 England caps and 17 goals, David Beckham’s controversial red card and team loss in the second round of the 1998 World Cup made him a scapegoat for England’s troubles. However, he rebuilt his legacy with the fans by getting England not only into the 2002 FIFA World Cup but scoring a winning goal against Argentina to force them out of the knockout stage. Brazil eventually knocked England out of the tourney.
All in all, Beckham played in three World Cups, scoring one of his trademark curling kicks in each of them. He captained the 2002 and 2006 sides to the quarter-finals.
A goal machine at Leicester, Everton, Barcelona, and Tottenham, the striker Gary Lineker earned 80 caps with the national side, scoring 48 goals over. The first-ever English Golden Boot winner, Lineker scored six goals before the team bowed out of the 1986 World Cup. He also helped the Three Lions get to the semi-finals at the 1990 World Cup.
The speedy technician and creative goal-scorer Michael Owen is recognized as one of the greatest English strikers of all time. He made 89 appearances with England, notching 40 goals. He scored his first goal in the 1998 World Cup, making him the youngest player ever to do so. His third and final World Cup in 2006 saw him tear his ACL, which seemed to have slowed him down and ended his international career prematurely.
The versatile midfielder Frank Lampard appeared in 106 games for the Three Lions, finishing his England career with 29 goals. He finished the Euro 2004 as one of the top players of the tournament and went on to play in the 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cups, the latter of which he captained.
With 106 caps, the Manchester United striker /attacking midfielder played in four World Cups for England, tallying 49 goals. He won the 1966 World Cup on home turf with England before retiring from international duties after the 1970 World Cup.
The midfielder played 90 games for his national side, scoring 26 goals, including one of the fastest ones of all-time when in 1982 when he bagged one against France in 27 seconds into the match. He also captained the sides in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups which he exited early due to injuries.
A pulsating forward, the twice European footballer made 63 appearances for the Three Lions, scoring 21 goals. He captained the side for 31 games, including England’s 1982 World Cup appearance before Spain eliminated it from the tournament.