David Beckham or Peter Beardsley? Gordon Banks or Pat Jennings? The potential for pub debate over the best of British talent is almost endless.
But one man has dug deep to put together a definitive countdown. England legend Jimmy Greaves (who would himself be on most people's lists) has put together his top 50 British footballers of all time.
Numbers 50-6 are in the gallery above along with Jimmy's comments, while the top five can be found below.
Be sure to share your views on the debate in the comments section.
5. Stanley Matthews
Indulge an old man a while and let him give you a couple of reminiscences about his boyhood hero, Stanley Matthews.
First of all, it’s 1953. A London Underground train driver from Hainault in Essex has just bought his family its first TV set. It was a boom year for TV sales. A year for coronations: that of The Queen and that of the Wizard of the Dribble, Sir Stan, our first footballing knight.
We settled down to watch an FA Cup Final between the teams of two faraway Lancashire towns – Blackpool and Bolton – and yet like most English families we were desperate for Matthews to win his first major trophy at the grand old age of 38, after twice being beaten in recent years.
And despite his Tangerines team-mate Stan Mortensen becoming the only man to score an FA Cup Final hat-trick at Wembley, the match we marvelled at that day would go down in history as The Matthews Final.
Stan enjoyed the greatest game of his life as Blackpool recovered from 3-1 down to win 4-3 and he laid on the winner for Bill Perry.
He was already considered an old man in football terms, yet he was still playing League football for Stoke beyond his 50th birthday a dozen years later.
What an honour it was for me to play in the great man’s testimonial and then, bringing me to my second reminiscence, to play alongside him in exhibition matches for British Petroleum, after both of us were retired from the professional game.
I was still in my 30s but Stan was around 60 when the BP team played the Kuwait national team in 100-degree heat out in the Gulf.
Johnny Haynes was playing through balls for the poor old beggar to run on to and Stan couldn’t help himself but run. It was his instinct to sprint down a wing, just as a dog cannot help but retrieve you a stick. We feared for Stan’s health in the sweltering heat but he refused to be substituted.
So our manager, Dave Underwood, had to walk on to the pitch with a microphone, hold Stan’s arm aloft and say “Ladies and gentleman, the one and only Sir Stanley Matthews!” before literally dragging him from the field to a standing ovation.
Stan was feted the world over not just for his longevity, his baggy shorts, his shuffling gait, his devastating pace – no one was quicker over five yards – his dribbling skills and his incomparable ability to cross a ball.
It was that no man adored football quite as much as Stanley Matthews. And no footballer was ever adored quite as much as he.
4. Bobby Charlton
Some say Bobby Charlton was a scorer of great goals, rather than a great goalscorer. Yet no player has scored more for England and no player has scored more for its greatest club, Manchester United.
So his 49 goals for England and his 249 for United can’t all have been 25-yard thunderbolts – it just seems that way in the mind’s eye. When he hammered one into the top corner from long range it was as if he were a man possessed, desperate to separate the leather casing from the bladder.
I made virtually all of my 57 England appearances alongside Bob and I can remember few greater competitors and few greater professionals. His fellow greats like Best and Moore did not lead blameless lives away from the game but Bob was dedicated to his craft.
His sainted image made it difficult when you played against United though, because although I never heard him swear at a referee, Bob would moan at them constantly and they would be so in awe of the great man that they’d usually do as they were told.
I can remember, more than once, yelling: “F***ing hell ref, why don’t you just give Bobby the whistle, you might as well!”
But this is a man who survived the Munich air disaster in 1958, won the World Cup in 1966, the European Cup in 1968 and played a key role in the appointment of Alex Ferguson as Old Trafford manager in 1986.
He’s history in the flesh is Bobby Charlton. He’s our greatest living football man.
3. Bobby Moore
As the man who captained England to World Cup glory – the one oasis in more than 60 barren years of international competition – Bobby Moore is a true great.
But unless you tried playing against him, tried to outfox him as a striker, it is not possible to appreciate fully what a special footballer he was.
He wasn’t especially quick, he wasn’t a great header of the ball and he wasn’t particularly strong in the tackle.
Yet playing against Bobby Moore was the greatest challenge you could ever take on because his ability to read a game was ridiculous. He was a master of mind games, a psychic, a hypnotist. He was impossible.
He was smooth, cool, assured, immaculate. He was all of those things and do you know why? Because he always knew exactly what was going to happen next. He knew where an opposition player was going to pass it before that player even knew.
At the tender age of 22 Alf Ramsey made Bobby the captain of England. Three years later he was receiving the Jules Rimet Trophy from The Queen.
If ever a captain led by example it was Bobby Moore. He had the total, unquestioning respect of every team-mate he ever played alongside. His record of 108 England appearances stood for almost two decades.
The greatest English footballer of all time was a very close friend of mine and the classiest defender ever to have played the game. He was as good a mate as a bloke could have. Just as long as he wasn’t marking you.
2. George Best
There may have been more beautiful women than Marilyn Monroe. There may have been better singers than Elvis Presley. There may have been more talented footballers than George Best. But some people are blessed with something you just cannot manufacture.
Call it charisma, call it magnetism, call it what you like, but they were simply stars – superstars, megastars. In truth, there isn’t a word big enough to do them justice.
The Northern Irishman was a genius, undoubtedly. His ability to run with the ball and change direction at speed, his balletic movement, his goalscoring instinct were absolutely first-rate.
Other players have had similar qualities. Ryan Giggs, for instance, wasn’t far off, in purely playing terms. But George was the ultimate showman. His attitude was ‘why simply beat a defender when you can torture him and entertain your public too?’
Why not dump a full-back on his backside when you were capable of dumping Miss World? He was brave, too. They kicked lumps out of him but he always got up and beat them again.
They described him as a winger or an attacking midfielder but he enjoyed a free role and the freest of spirits. He was the first true modern footballer – the one every mediocre millionaire of the modern game should get down on their knees and thank.
Because in the Swinging Sixties he made football sexy. He paved the way for players to become celebrities to rank alongside movie idols and pop stars.
They nicknamed him ‘El Beatle’ when Manchester United humiliated the great Benfica 5-1 in the Stadium of Light in the 1966 European Cup quarter-final – George scoring twice in the opening minutes in probably the greatest individual performance by a British player in European club competition.
Two years later Best played a starring role as United became the first English side to win the European Cup with a 4-1 win over the same Benfica side at Wembley.
It didn’t matter that George burnt out at a young age – so did Marilyn and Elvis. It didn’t matter that he was finished by the age of 28 and never graced a World Cup finals.
There are rare players, touched by God and the Devil in equal measure, you cannot judge by mere honours nor statistics.
George Best was a lovely man and a dear friend. Sometimes when you were with him it was easy to forget that you were in the company of an immortal.
1. John Charles
Half a century or more after his heyday, he may not be quite as renowned here as Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, George Best or Stanley Matthews. But the great British footballer of all time simply has to be John Charles - and with surprisingly little room for debate.
That is because Big John was not just a great footballer - he was TWO great footballers. A genuinely world-class centre forward and a genuinely world-class centre-half, Charles was also Britain's finest footballing export.
He was adored at Juventus and is still revered to this day in Turin, where he is known as King John. Often, Big John would start the game up front for Juve and then, in a Serie A culture where they love a 1-0 win, they'd move the great Welshman to centre-half to ensure that the opposition had precious little chance of getting back into the game!
When Juventus signed Charles from Leeds in 1957 for a world-record £65,000 he was one of the first British players to move abroad - and no other Brit has ever enjoyed the same levels of success on foreign fields. Charles netted 93 goals in 155 matches in the League which boasted the meanest defences in the world - despite often playing at the back. In five years in Turin, he won the Scudetto five times.
He is also Leeds's second highest scorer of all time - despite having also played at full-back and in midfield for the Elland Road outfit. No one could decide with any certainty what his best position was but every manager wished they'd had 11 John Charleses because, given his size and his speed, he'd have surely made a damned good goalkeeper too.
Big John, Swansea-born and built like a coalface, was utterly commanding in both areas, the word 'immense' could have been invented for him. He was the greatest header of a football I have ever seen - and that was when they were as heavy as cannonballs.
John was nicknamed the Gentle Giant in Italy and for a man who was such a beast on the pitch, he did have the most wonderfully laidback and easygoing nature. That was part of the reason why he was such a rare British success story abroad - because you certainly felt a lot more foreign in Italy in the 1950s and 60s than you do today, yet John took it all in his stride.
He scored 15 goals in 38 games for Wales, playing in the World Cup quarter-final in 1958, where the Welsh were pipped 1-0 by eventual champions Brazil - with a goal scored by a young upstart named Pele!
Idolised in Wales, Italy and the People's Republic of Yorkshire, Big John was quite possibly the greatest all-round footballer the world has ever seen.
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