Newcastle United, with a rich 130-year history, boasts numerous legends who have shaped the club’s legacy. Here, we will highlight the standout players whose contributions have been vital to the club’s success. From the early days to recent triumphs, these icons are the driving force behind Newcastle United’s esteemed reputation.
Who Are the Best Newcastle United Soccer Players of All Time?
- Alan Shearer
- Jackie Milburn
- Andy Cole
- Paul Gascoigne
- Shay Given
- Kevin Keegan
- Rob Lee
- Peter Beardsley
- Les Ferdinand
- Hughie Gallacher
1. Alan Shearer
- Top goalscorer in Newcastle United history (206 goals)
- 1994-95 Premier League Player of the Year
- Five-time Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year
Alan Shearer, the iconic English striker, left an enduring legacy with his achievements. Joining his beloved childhood club, Newcastle United, in 1996, he became an instant force. Shearer secured the Premier League’s top scorer accolade for three consecutive seasons and received the esteemed PFA Player of the Year award. Despite battling injuries, he delivered unforgettable performances, including a remarkable hat-trick against Leicester City.
Shearer’s goals propelled Newcastle to a second-place league finish and secured qualification for the FA Cup and UEFA Cup. His impact extended to the European stage, where his goals propelled Newcastle to the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Renowned for his physicality and powerful shot, Shearer was a feared striker and a natural leader, captaining both club and country. His extraordinary goal-scoring record cements him as one of the Premier League’s greatest legends. Even in retirement, Shearer continues to be an influential figure in football.
2. Jackie Milburn
- 1957-58 Professional Footballers’ Association Footballer of the Year
- 397 matches, 200 goals
- Three-time English FA Cup winner
Jackie Milburn, the legendary athlete, rose to prominence in the 1940s and 1950s with his remarkable skills and achievements. Known for his opportunism and lightning speed, Milburn quickly made an impact. Milburn’s career highlights include leading Newcastle United to the FA Cup finals in 1951, where he scored a goal in the 2-0 victory over Blackpool. This triumph was followed by another FA Cup win in 1952, solidifying his status as a Newcastle United legend.
With his natural pace and ability to hit pinpoint crosses, Milburn excelled as a right-winger. He was the team’s top scorer multiple times and was crucial to their promotion to the First Division in 1948. Milburn also earned caps for the England national team, representing his country with distinction. Milburn’s contributions to Newcastle United established him as one of the club’s all-time greats. His career will forever be remembered in the annals of English football.
3. Andy Cole
- 1993-94 Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year
- Five-time Premier League Champion
- 1993-94 Golden Boot
Andy Cole achieved remarkable success throughout his football career. He claimed prestigious honors like the PFA Young Player of the Year award and the UEFA Champions League title. Cole represented England 15 times, scoring against Albania in a FIFA World Cup qualifier. At Newcastle United, Cole’s impact was profound. His 12 goals propelled the team to win the Division One title and secure promotion to the Premier League.
In his debut Premier League season, he netted 34 goals in 40 matches, helping Newcastle finish third and qualify for the UEFA Cup. Cole set a club record with 41 total goals, breaking a long-standing mark. He was rightfully recognized as the PFA Young Player of the Year. Cole’s striking prowess continued, scoring nine goals in the following Premier League season and achieving a memorable hat-trick in the UEFA Cup. With 68 goals in 84 appearances, Cole’s legacy at Newcastle remains legendary.
4. Paul Gascoigne
- 1987-88 Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year
- 104 matches, 24 goals
- 1955-56 Scottish Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year
Paul Gascoigne, an attacking midfielder, was a technically gifted and creative playmaker who left a lasting impact on English football. With his exceptional passing accuracy and heading skills, Gascoigne excelled in both scoring goals and providing assists for his teammates. His speed, physical strength, balance, and remarkable dribbling made him a formidable force on the field, enabling him to overcome challenges and retain possession. Gascoigne’s expertise in free kicks and penalty kicks further solidified his reputation.
His contributions often decided closely contested matches, earning admiration from esteemed players such as Gary Lineker, Steven Gerrard, and Gareth Southgate. His performances in the 1990 World Cup drew praise, as some likened his flair and technique to that of Diego Maradona. Despite his undeniable talent, Gascoigne faced criticism for his erratic behavior and aggressive tendencies. Off-field issues and injuries significantly impacted his career trajectory. Nevertheless, Gascoigne’s skill and impact on the game remain undeniable.
5. Shay Given
- Three-time Newcastle United Player of the Year
- 1995 English champion
- Two-time Professional Footballers’ Association Footballer of the Year
Shay Given, the renowned goalkeeper, made an unforgettable impact during his tenure at Newcastle United. Joining the team in 1997, Given swiftly claimed the position of the first-choice goalkeeper, outshining his rivals. Although Newcastle fell short in the FA Cup final against Arsenal in his debut season, Given played a vital role in the team’s journey to the final, thus showcasing his exceptional abilities. Recognized for his consistency, he earned a spot in the PFA Team of the Year.
Leading Newcastle to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, Given’s devotion remained unwavering. However, in 2009, he made a transfer to Manchester City. Throughout his career, Given was hailed as one of the Premier League’s finest goalkeepers, admired for his agility, reflexes, shot-stopping skills, and command of the box. Shay Given’s lasting legacy and extraordinary goalkeeping prowess continue to resonate in the world of football, especially in that of Newcastle United.
6. Kevin Keegan
- 1981-82 top goal scorer
- 85 matches, 49 goals
- 1982-83 Newcastle United Player of the Year
Kevin Keegan, a football player and manager, had a remarkable career with Newcastle United. He joined the club, fulfilling a childhood dream, and quickly became a fan favorite. Keegan’s debut, marked by a goal and a leap into the crowd, showcased his passion and dedication. He played a vital role in the team’s success, earning the title of North East Player of the Year in his first season. Keegan retired as a player in 1984, leaving a lasting impact with 49 goals in 85 appearances.
Years later, Keegan returned to Newcastle as a manager and successfully transformed the team into an exciting, attacking force. Keegan’s managerial tenure witnessed key players like Andy Cole and Les Ferdinand. Newcastle’s run in the Premier League, narrowly missing out on the title, remains a highlight of Keegan’s career. Despite his initial reluctance, Keegan became a renowned manager, leaving a lasting legacy at Newcastle United.
7. Rob Lee
- Two-time Premier League Player of the Month
- 381 matches, 56 goals
- 1996 PFA Team of the Year
Rob Lee, a London-born midfielder with North East ancestry, made a significant impact at Newcastle United after joining the club in 1992. He played a crucial role in the team’s promotion to the Premier League in his debut season and helped them secure a commendable third-place finish, earning qualification for the UEFA Cup. Lee’s remarkable hat trick in the club’s first European match in 17 years against Royal Antwerp showcased his scoring prowess.
He became a key figure during the Entertainers Era under manager Kevin Keegan, finishing as Premier League runners-up in consecutive seasons. Lee was appointed captain by Kenny Dalglish but was later dropped by Ruud Gullit. However, he made a successful comeback under Sir Bobby Robson. After ten years at Newcastle, Lee moved on to Derby County in 2002, concluding his playing career at the age of 40 after spells with West Ham United, Oldham Athletic, and Wycombe Wanderers.
8. Peter Beardsley
- Two-time Newcastle United Player of the Year
- 326 matches, 121 goals
- 1989 English FA Cup winner
Peter Beardsley, one of England’s most gifted footballers, had two impactful spells at his boyhood club, Newcastle United. He first showcased his skills and goals upon returning to Newcastle in 1983. Beardsley played a crucial role in the team’s promotion campaign, forming an exciting partnership with Kevin Keegan, Chris Waddle, and Terry McDermott. His skill and footwork earned him the nickname “Little Gem” from England manager Bobby Robson, and he went on to earn 59 caps for his country.
After successful stints at Liverpool and Everton, Beardsley returned to St. James’ Park at the age of 32, fitting into the Entertainers’ side alongside Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand, David Ginola, and eventually Alan Shearer. Known for his 119 goals in 326 appearances, including memorable hat-tricks against Manchester City, Sunderland, and Wimbledon, Beardsley is revered as one of Newcastle’s greatest players. Following his retirement, he became a coach at Newcastle United’s Academy.
9. Les Ferdinand
- 1995-96 Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year
- 84 matches, 50 goals
- Eleventh-highest scorer in the Premier League history
Leslie Ferdinand, the renowned striker, had a remarkable spell at Newcastle United, scoring 50 goals in just 84 games. His arrival at the club in 1995 for £6 million proved fruitful as he contributed significantly to Newcastle’s run at the Premiership title during the 1995-96 season. Despite leading the league by 12 points, they were ultimately surpassed by Manchester United.
Ferdinand’s tenure saw him collect runners-up medals for both of his seasons on Tyneside, engaging in a fierce title race with Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool. His partnership with Alan Shearer was highly regarded, earning him the endearing nickname ‘Sir Les’ among Newcastle United supporters. Ferdinand’s emotional return to St James’ Park as a Tottenham player, attempting to don Shearer’s number 9 shirt, resulted in tears and a memorable moment. His impact was ultimately recognized with his induction into the Newcastle United Foundation Hall of Fame in 2017, marking his legacy.
10. Hughie Gallacher
- 1926-27 Football League First Division champion
- 174 matches, 143 goals
- Eighth top Goalscorer in Premier League
Hughie Gallacher, one of the greatest center-forwards of all time, left an enduring mark at Newcastle United. Standing at just 5’5″, the diminutive Scot was a goal-scoring machine, netting an incredible 143 goals in just 174 games. He boasted a career record of 463 goals. Gallacher became a cult figure at St. James’ Park after signing from Airdrieonians in 1925, leading the club to the First Division title in 1927 with 39 goals in 41 games.
Despite his prolific scoring, his relationship with the club’s directors was strained, leading to his eventual transfer to Chelsea for a hefty sum. On the international stage, he scored 24 goals in 20 games for Scotland and was part of the Wembley Wizards team that demolished England in 1928. Tragically, Gallacher’s life ended in sadness when he took his own life in 1957. Nonetheless, his legacy as one of Newcastle’s finest players remains intact.
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- Gary Speed
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- Nolberto Solano
- Philippe Albert
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