Ranked! The 50 best Manchester United players ever

best Manchester United players ever: David Beckham and Gary Neville celebrating, Manchester United vs Juventus
(Image credit: PA)

Any list of the best Manchester United players of all time is bound to be subjective. It’s impossible to compare across eras for one thing, and we all have a tendency to favour players who stand out in our personal memories for whatever reason. And of course acclaiming individuals in the ultimate team sport is always going to be hostage to the fortunes of the team at the time. 

How do we weigh achievements against performances during a less successful period for the club? Should longevity and being a one-club man be a major factor? Do we look beyond appearances and goal-scoring records to consider a player’s impact at the club, no matter how short-lived?

Regardless of how we judge the various parameters, fans always have and always will attempt to compile ‘greatest’ lists, and it gives us all a chance to recall those staggering moments of skill and perseverance that form our best memories…

Best Manchester United players ever: 50. Teddy Sheringham (1997-2001)

Teddy Sheringham

(Image credit: PA)

Sheringham joined in what was assumed to be the autumn of a fine career with Spurs and England only for it to blossom into another summer. 

He won three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a Champions League during four  years, but he will always be remembered for the equaliser in that final.

49. Harry Gregg (1957-66)

Northern Ireland's goalie, Harry Gregg, makes a graceful dive but misses the ball as West Germany's Uwe Seeler (not shown) scores during the World Cup soccer match. They tied the game at 2 points apiece. At left is Germany's Helmut Rahn

(Image credit: Getty)

Gregg signed from Doncaster Rovers for £23,500 just two months before Munich but stayed at the club for almost a decade more. 

A brave if unshowy keeper, he suffered numerous injuries but always fought his way back into the side, showing that same resolve that he displayed on a German airfield.

48. Stan Pearson (1936-54)

A shot heads for the camera, Manchester United versus Sheffield Wednesday, 1949. A photograph of a football match between Manchester United and Sheffield Wednesday in 1949. A shot wide of the post by United's Stan Pearson heads for the Daily Herald's photographer Bert Abell.

(Image credit: Daily Herald Archive/National Science & Media Museum/SSPL via Getty Images)

Despite losing six years of his career to World War II, Pearson still scored 148 goals in 343 appearances, including a hat-trick in the semi-final and another in the final of the 1948 FA Cup. 

His movement off the ball brought him many tap ins – and 22 goals in 41 appearances in the 1951–52 league-winning season.

47. Johnny Carey (1946-53)

Manchester United player Allenby Chilton (left) watches keeper Jack Crompton make a save during a cup match against Preston North End at Old Trafford, February 1948. Original Publication : Picture Post - 4516 - A Team That Deserves The Cup - pub. 1948

(Image credit: William Vanderson/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Irishman Carey was another whose career was interrupted by World War II before returning to claim league and cup titles. 

Spotted by legendary scout Louis Rocca playing for St James’ Gate in Dublin, he was signed for £250 and became an influential figure as club captain. 

46. Jaap Stam (1998-2001)

Jaap Stam

(Image credit: PA)

Signed from PSV Eindhoven for a then world-record fee for a defender of £10.75 million, Stam was built like a traditional English stopper but had technical gifts as well. 

Robbed of his pace by a nasty Achilles injury, United surprisingly decided to cash in on his resale value earlier than might have been expected. 

45. Tony Dunne (1960-73)

Irish footballer Tony Dunne (1941-2020), Manchester United left back, ahead of the English League Division One match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane in London, England, 20th January 1962. The match was drawn 2-2.

(Image credit: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Signed as a 19-year-old from Shelbourne in the difficult post-Munich years, Dunne was another Irishman to have a successful career at United, playing the reliable full-back role in a team packed with attacking talent. 

He went about his job unassumingly and quietly notched up over 400 appearances. 

44. Brian Kidd (1967-74)

Manchester United's Brian Kidd celebrates after scoring the 3rd goal with a header, on his 19th birthday, at the European Cup Final at Wembley against SL Benfica, London, UK, 29th May 1968.

(Image credit: Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

So well known as Ferguson’s assistant did Kidd become that it’s easy to forget his playing career. 

Coming through the youth ranks, he started a European Cup final on his 19th birthday. Kidd scored the third goal that day and looked set to take his place in the pantheon of great United strikers, but it never quite happened. 

43. Dwight Yorke (1998-2002)

Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole

(Image credit: Getty)

The yin to Cole’s yang, Yorke always seemed to play with a broad grin on his face, as if he were truly loving every minute and couldn’t quite believe where he was. 

His pace, eye for a pass and instinctive finishing were a deadly combination, even if his spell at Old Trafford did prove to be short lived.

42. Andy Cole (1995-2001)

Andy Cole

(Image credit: Getty)

It’s as hard to separate Cole and Yorke in the rankings as it was on the pitch, their glorious partnership bringing so many goals – and trophies. 

There was a suspicion that Cole needed a lot of chances to make one stick, but his goal-scoring record across six seasons speaks for itself.

41. Arthur Albiston (1936-54)

Manchester United defender Arthur Albiston passes an adidas tango football during a League Division One match against Manchester City at Old Trafford in March 1986 in Manchester, England.

(Image credit: Allsport/Getty Images)

Albiston joined United as an apprentice in 1974, signing professional forms two years later, but he had played only a handful of games before being named in the starting line-up for the 1977 FA Cup Final. 

He did well against Liverpool winger Steve Heighway and established himself at left-back, making over 480 appearances.

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