Manchester United remain one of the biggest clubs in world football, even after the last few seasons but who are the 10 most famous players in the club’s history?
And, with that comes the fame you’d expect from such a big club – and the pressure, as we have seen all too much recently. When things were going slightly better under Sir Alex Ferguson – that’s the understatement of the century – wearing the famous red at Old Trafford boosted a player’s popularity tenfold.
Nowadays, wearing the shirt, donning the badge, adds more watchful eyes, and not exactly eyes hoping to see something positive either. Instead, those watching are waiting for failure to occur, before jumping on the hate bandwagon. Simply put, there’s a difference between the fame players received during the ultimate era of success, and the fame players receive now. It’s gone from pure adoration to the most toxic pressure.
The fame, no matter the type of fame, still remains, however. And, with that said, we’ve ranked the most famous players in Manchester United history.
This is a list of legends: Who is the best Manchester United legend you can find?
10) Peter Schmeichel
One of the best goalkeepers in Premier League history – some may even argue the best – Peter Schmeichel’s fame is unquestionable.
What helps, too, is seeing his family name carried on in England’s top flight through son Kasper, who has a famous Premier League title to his name at Leicester City.
However, it’s arguable if he will ever hit his father’s level on the pitch.
Indeed, Schmeichel won five Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the League Cup, the Champions League and a European Super Cup. Oh, and he was also in goal when Denmark won the European Championships in 1992.
9) Paul Scholes
Up there with the very best midfielders that the Premier League has ever seen, Paul Scholes doesn’t always get the credit that he deserves.
But, let’s face it, his unstoppable thunderbolt against Barcelona in the 2008 Champions semi-final is enough to send the Scholes name hurtling around the world like a rocket released from his famous right foot.
Scholes was a part of perhaps the greatest United side ever, alongside the likes of Roy Keane, David Beckham, and Ryan Giggs.
Is he as good as both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard? We’re saying yes.
8) Patrice Evra
Mr ‘I love this game’ Patrice Evra has arguably been more famous since retirement.
His sometimes bizarre YouTube videos placed the spotlight on the former Manchester United fullback once more, alongside his previous punditry work for Sky Sports. A character, to say the least, Evra remains one of the most famous Manchester United players in their history.
He won no fewer than five Premier League titles, as well as the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Evra was also named in the Premier League Team of the Year three times.
7) Gary Neville
Like Evra, Gary Neville has arguably become more famous since retirement. What was a relatively quiet, but world class player is now an outspoken pundit, and undoubtedly one of Sky Sports’ best.
A moment we’ll never forget when we think of Neville isn’t a moment of his on the pitch, it is from the commentary box, as he let out an outrageous cry when Fernando Torres rounded Victor Valdes to seal Chelsea’s Champions League final place in 2012.
But as a player, he is perhaps still slightly underrated.
Not only did Neville win it all, he was also an absolute fixture in the England team, representing his country at multiple tournaments as a member of the Golden Generation, although they couldn’t win anything.
6) Roy Keane
Roy Keane used to be famous for being a man you probably don’t want to upset.
However, now that his playing days are over, and he features as a pundit on Sky Sports, he has shown a rare soft side. Of course, we still wouldn’t want to be Harry Maguire if he saw the Irishman after another Old Trafford drubbing, but the intimidation has worn slightly over the years (don’t tell him we said that).
Still, as a player he was the best captain in the Premier League, winning no fewer than seven Premier League titles as well as four FA Cups and the Champions League.
He has also been named in the Premier League Team of the Century, which just cements how ridiculously good Keane was.
5) Wayne Rooney
There may not ever be another England player on the back page of newspapers as much as Wayne Rooney, but that’s just how it was back in his playing days. As one of the best young players in the world, Rooney received attention everywhere he went, for better or for worse.
And he went on to inspire United to incredible heights.
He has a bundle of memories that fans will never forget; he scored one of the best bicycle kicks in Premier League history against Manchester City, and also netted that hat-trick on his debut in the Champions League against Fenerbahce.
He is one of just three players to score over 200 Premier League goals, along with Alan Shearer and, more recently, Harry Kane.
4) Eric Cantona
When you think of Eric Cantona, you should think of an incredible, sometimes unstoppable, player. But, no. Instead, all of our minds go to that kung-fu kick on the Crystal Palace fan in 1995. As it turns out, not all fame is good fame; all publicity, no matter what some say, is not good publicity.
But what a player Cantona was.
He won four Premier League titles with United, as well as two FA Cups, prior to retiring at his peak.
He is perhaps one of the best signings in the league’s history, too, arriving at United for just over £1m. What a signing.
3) George Best
One of the first real celebrities in football, George Best was adored by football fans, whilst also receiving plenty of attention off the pitch for his Beatles-like look, and partying lifestyle, which eventually unfortunately became his ultimate downfall both during and after his playing career.
Best actually 0nly won two league titles for United but the crowning achievement in his career was undoubtedly lifting the European Cup in 1968.
The Northern Ireland international never got to showcase his skill at the World Cup, but he remains one of the best players in British history.
His 11 years at Old Trafford will always go down in history among fans of a certain age.
2) David Beckham
David Beckham is one of the most famous celebrities on the planet, let alone in Manchester United’s history.
He’s even done something that most UK celebrities fail to do, and that’s conquer America. Simply put, the former Manchester United midfielder has gone clear of just being famous for his fantastic free-kicks. The Beckham brand is worldwide.
A former United and England captain, just have a look at his trophy cabinet.
He won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups, the Champions League, and the Intercontinental Cup with United, before going on to win La Liga with Real Madrid, the MLS Cup, twice, with LA Galaxy, and Ligue 1 with PSG.
1) Cristiano Ronaldo
The only man that could possibly beat David Beckham to the number one spot in this list, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest football players of all time – some even insist that he is the best ever.
Go anywhere in the world, and nine out of 10 people will likely know the name Ronaldo, CR7, himself. He is perhaps the epitome of fame in football.
In total, across two spells, Ronaldo made 346 appearances and scored 145 goals, while laying on 64 assists.
It’s just a shame how it ended, with that interview with Piers Morgan.
The fame that some Manchester United players have enjoyed after their playing days is extraordinary. Meanwhile, some hit their peaks whilst on the pitch. But, it seems as though those who played for one of the biggest clubs in world football are now playing a part in the modern game, from Neville, as a pundit, to Beckham, who owns his own football club, Inter Miami.
The legacy that these players will leave behind stretches further than their work on the pitch, that much they’ve made sure of, with their fame only increasing.