Photo: Sporting News
Manchester United is the most successful football club in England. Nicknamed the ‘Red Devils’ the club traces its root to 1878 when it was founded as the Newton Health LYR Football Club. The team changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and relocated to its current home stadium Old Trafford in 1910.
In 1998-89, Manchester United became the first English team to accomplish the treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. Overall, the Red Devils have won a total of 20 League Titles, 12 FA Cups and 5 League Cups. They have also won a record 21 FA Community Shields, 3 European Cups, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 UEFA Winners Cup, 1 UEFA Europa League and 1 Intercontinental Cup.
These triumphs would not be possible without the players who have played for the Red Devils throughout the years. There are so many of them but we handpicked the best of the best.
Here are the top Manchester United Players of All-Time:
10. Peter Schmeichel
Not even a missile would’ve gotten past him. Not even a butterfly could get past the net. Peter Schmeichel was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all-time.
The Copenhagen born Schmeichel was known for his imposing physique and his specially made XXXL shirts. He was ranked by the IFFHS as one of the Top 10 Goalkeepers of the 20th century and was their Goalkeeper of the Year in 1992 and 1993. Interestingly, he scored 11 goals in his career, including one for his national team.
With the Red Devils, Schmeichel was part of 5 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 Football League Cup and 4 FA Shields. In 1999, he helped Manchester United complete the treble by being the captain of its triumph at the 1999 UEFA Champions League.
9. Paul Scholes
Sir Bobby Charlton said he was ‘a beautiful player to watch’. Pep Guardiola called him the ‘best midfielder of his generation’. Zidane said he was the toughest opponent. Thierry Henry said he is the greatest Premier League player of all-time. With these kinds of compliments, it’s hard not to include Paul Scholes in any list of top Manchester United players of all-time.
His passing was so in control and pinpoint accurate, he could hit any pass in the world. He had superb work ethic, killer’s mentality, composure with the ball and keen eye for the goal made him one of the most complete midfielders the game has ever seen. More importantly, he played his entire career with Manchester United.
Scholes is the most decorated English footballer of all-time with 25 trophies including 11 Premier League titles and two Champions League titles. He also played for the English National team from 1997-2004, participating in the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cup and earning a total of 66 caps.
8. David Beckham
David Beckham is the most recognizable football player in the world. He also had one of the most dreaded free kicks in the game and the most feared corner kicks in the sport. That wand of a right foot was responsible for countless assists from open plays and set plays.
Becks made his Manchester United first team debut at the age of 17. He won 6 Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups and 1 UEFA Champions League with the Red Devils. He is the first English player to win League titles in four different countries: England, Spain, The United States and France.
But more than his accomplishments on the football field, Beckham’s impact was global. He was an ambassador for the sport and made it bigger than ever. In Britain, he was a cultural icon never before seen.
7. Roy Keane
He was not afraid to speak his thoughts in front of the media microphone, especially if he felt his teammates didn’t play up to the level he expected them to. Keane demanded excellence from everybody around him and oftentimes, he brought out the best in them. That leadership quality in itself makes him great. But that’s not it.
The most successful Irish footballer in history, Keane won a total of 19 major trophies including 17 in his twelve year tenure with Manchester United. Keane took over the captaincy after Eric Cantona’s sudden retirement in 1997. He was captain when Manchester United accomplished the treble in 1999.
Keane’s success story with the Reds included 7 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 4 FA Shields. He was named as the FWA Footballer of the Year and PFA’s Players Player of the Year in 2000.
6. Eric Cantona
Photo: The SportsBank.net
Nobody made an impact in a very short period of time more than Eric Cantona did. Despite playing less than five years for Old Trafford, Cantona became a Manchester United icon with his passion, style and genius.
Cantona was physically strong and he combined that strength with technical ability and creativity. He was known for his upturned collar and was affectionately called ‘King Eric’ by the fans.
Cantona played a key role in Manchester United’s return to prominence in the 1990’s.
When he arrived at Old Trafford, the team had not won a League title in 26 years. By the time he left, Manchester United won 4 Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups and 3 Charity Shields. Individually, he was PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 1994 and FWA Footballer of the Year in 1996.
5. Wayne Rooney
Photo: ESPN FC
His loyalty to Old Trafford has been questioned in the past, but there is no doubting his quality as a football player.
Wayne Rooney’s ability to find the net is the key to his achievements. Not only is he England’s top goal scorer of all-time, he already passed Sir Bobby Charlton as the Red Devils’ all-time top scorer. Rooney is the second leading scorer in Premier League history. He also holds the record for most goals in one club in the Premier League. And the best thing is, he’s not yet done.
Rooney’s trophy case included 5 Premier League championships, 3 Football League Cups, 1 FA Cup, 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 UEFA Europa League and 4 FA Community Shields.
He was a goal machine during his time, a pure finisher. But Dennis Law was more than that. Law’s ability with the ball was a spectacle to behold. He possessed the passing and dribbling of a top-level midfielder.
A member of the ‘Manchester holy trinity’, Law is the third leading goal scorer in Manchester United history behind Wayne Rooney and sir Bobby Charlton. His 46 goals in the 1963-64 season remains as the highest in club history for a single season. He is the only Scottish player to win the Ballon d’Or.
Law’s accomplishment with Manchester United included two Football League First Division titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 European Cup and 2 Charity Shields. He was named to the World Soccer World XI in 1964 and part of the Football League 100 Legends in 1974. He was also named to the PFA Team of the Century in 2007.
3. George Best
‘If i had been born ugly, you wouldn’t have heard of Pele.’ He famously mused. It was a joke alright but it also reflected the player he was and the player he could have been.
George Best had the perfect surname. It correctly described his ability on a football pitch. His brazeness with the ball made it look like it was glued to his feet. He could dribble turn and score against anybody. Best possessed the technical ability other football players could only dream about. The Irish Football Association called him the ‘Greatest player to ever pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland’.
Best won the Football First League Division twice with Manchester United. He also won 1 European Cup and 2 Charity Shields with the Red Devils. He was the top scorer for the Football League First Division in 1968 and FWA Footballer of the Year also in 1968. He was voted #8 in the World Soccer Greatest Players of the 20th century.
2. Ryan Giggs
Ryan Giggs will forever be remembered for the goal against Arsenal that sent United on their way to completing the treble in 1999. But it’s his 963 appearances in 23 years a Manchester United uniform that will probably be unmatched.
Giggs started out his career as a winger but was a mainstay at midfield and a manager in the making in the end stages of his football days. In between those, he became the most decorated player in the history of football.
Giggs won a total of 34 trophies in his legendary career. He won 13 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 4 Football League Club championships, 2 UEFA Champions League titles, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 1 FIFA Club World Cup and 9 Community League Shields.
1. Sir Bobby Charlton
The original Manchester United legend overcame tragedy to become the greatest of all.
One year and four months after his debut with the Red Devils, he lost 8 of his teammates in the Munich air tragedy. Despite the sad experience, he would go on to play 758 games and score 249 goals with United. The latter stood as the standard until Wayne Rooney erased it but up to this generation, the name Bobby Charlton will go hand in hand with Manchester United.
He played in four World Cups and won in 1966. During that same year, he won the Ballon d’Or. He won 3 Football League First Division titles with Manchester United as well as 1 FA Cup, 1 European Cup and 4 Charity Shields. He was named as the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1966 and FIFA World Cup All-Star teams in 1966 and 1970.
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