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Best of British

British home nation players have always played their part in the Manchester United squad over the years, the latest addition being Scott McTominay. The Irish connection has always been strong, as well as some special Scots, wonderful Welshmen, and of course the excitement of English expertise has continually graced the Old Trafford pitch, but who are the best of British footballers to have played for Manchester United? Each nation has some special talent…

Northern Irish
There has always been a strong Irish connection associated with Manchester United. Of course, there are great names like Dennis Irwin and Roy Keane, but as they are of Republic of Ireland nationality, they cannot be included in the best of British, however, there have been some fantastic players from Northern Ireland that have become United legends. Here are the top three…

Number 3 – Sammy Mcllroy – 11 years at Old Trafford, a league title and FA Cup winner, this Irish man was Sit Matt Busby’s last signing, he went onto score 71 goals for the club and make 419 appearances which, considering the ‘70’s were a difficult period for the club, this, and two medals makes Mcllroy a United great and an incredible Irish midfield maestro.

Number 2 – Harry Gregg – A Munich disaster survivor, Gregg was a tough super shot stopper who made 247 appearances for United. Although he never won a trophy with the club, he is considered a Busby Babe legend who was one of the best goalkeepers to have played for the club, and his bravery during the Munich air disaster, pulling passengers from the aeroplane, will never be forgotten.

Number 1 – George Best – There could only be one Irish number one, and perhaps even number one on the list of greatest ever United players, that is George Best. The wonderous winger was something special, a Busby Babe who dazzled with his dribbles and scored gorgeous goals. The 1968 European Cup victory was one of his finest moments in a United shirt, his run and cool finish helped his team to a 4-1 win and become Champions of Europe. He endured an indifferent time off the pitch, but his magical moments on it will never be forgotten. Best was the best.

Some great Welsh dragons have graced the Old Trafford pitch over the years, there are no connections with Wales at present in the United squad, but wonderous Welsh past players certainly make up for this, but who is the Welsh winner…?

Number 3 – Billy Meredith – One of United’s first greats, he joined the club in 1906 and enjoyed a successful 15 year stay at the club. The Welshman won United’s first ever FA Cup as well as two league titles. He made 303 appearances for The Red Devils, but perhaps more impressively, Meredith is the oldest footballer ever to play for Wales, he was 45 years old when he turned out for the Red Dragons in a win over England. First ever United legend.

Number 2 – Mark Hughes – AKA Sparky, this Welsh wizard will always be an Old Trafford favourite and one of United’s best ever strikers. With his warrior style of play and goal instinct, he was a special player who netted 163 times for The Red Devils. He won 11 major honours at United in a 13 year spell at the club, and his two Cup Winners’ Cup goals in the final against his former club Barcelona which won United the trophy, will never be forgotten. A great true Red – Dragon and Devil.

Number 1 – Ryan Giggs – Of course, the number one spot could only go to one man, former Welsh winger wonder, Ryan Giggs. A glittering career, this one club man has to be considered as Manchester United’s greatest player let alone their best Welsh international. United’s record holder for most appearances by a player, with 963, says it all about this wonderful winger who dazzled us for 24 years with his pace, exceptional dribbling and great goals. He won everything at club level including an incredible 13 league titles. This epic, outstanding, world-class footballer has to be number one. Legend.

The emergence of Scott McTominay this season sees the Scottish link between the highlands and United resurfacing once more. The last successful Scot to play for the Old Trafford club was Darren Fletcher, previous to this Sir Alex Ferguson’s son Darren and goalkeeper Jim Leighton became Scottish reds, but who is United’s all time super Scot?

Number 3 – Brian McClair – One of Sir Alex Ferguson’s first and best signings, this great Scot made 471 appearances for United and netted 127 goals. He became the second player after George Best to score 20 league goals in a season for The Red Devils. 15 major trophies were won by ‘Choccy’ during his 11 year stay at Old Trafford including 4 Premier League titles making McClair a special Scottish player in United’s history.

Number 2 – Paddy Crerand – A tough no nonsense midfield rock, Crerand was the engine room in the centre of the park for United during his eight year stay at Old Trafford. He was integral in The Red Devil’s first European Cup triumph in 1968, his tackling and passing from midfield making him a vital player for United. After over 400 appearances for United, Crerand hung up his boots but his love, passion and commitment for the Manchester club never died – he has coached at Old Trafford and is a regular pundit on the club’s TV station MUTV. A super Scottish midfield maestro.

Number 1 – Denis Law – One of the club’s greatest strikers, player, super Scot, and living legend, Denis Law has to be number one. The first ‘King’ of Old Trafford scored an incredible 237 goals in 404 appearances for the club. He was the master in front of goal, and it was his goals that helped United and himself to six major honours during his 11 year stay at the club. Ballon d’Or winner, European Cup top scorer, PFA team of the century – this man has won it all proving just how outstanding he was on the pitch. Denis Law will always be United’s Scottish superstar and goal scoring genius.

Of course, the United-English connection is extremely vast and consists of more players, the standard being as high as the other nations but with more talent to choose from. Dating back to the Busby Babes and before, to the seventies and through the Ferguson era, English players have always been at the heart of great United sides, but which footballers are United English treasures…?

Number 3 – Duncan Edwards – This Busby Babe was one of the most complete and best players to have worn the red of United. Tragically taken too soon in the Munich air disaster, Edwards made his United debut at the tender age of 16, he was world-class and it is believed he would have gone onto be one of the greatest players in the world had he not perished in the plane crash; he had great physique, scored wonderful goals and could play in any position. Duncan Edwards was a boy wonder.

Number 2 – Paul Scholes – This midfield magician, one of Fergie’s Fledglings, was paid the biggest compliment during his playing days when Bobby Charlton said he was ‘a beautiful player to watch.’ Summed up perfectly by the former United great, Scholes’ passing and control in the middle of the park made him one of United’s greatest ever players. His long range goals were outstanding, as was his overall tally of 155 netted in an incredible 718 appearances for the Old Trafford club. Legend Scholes was something special.

Number 1 – Sir Bobby Charlton – This red marvel symbolises everything that Manchester United are about. European Champion, World Cup winner, Ballon d’Or victor, all of this as well as being considered as the greatest footballer to have ever played for Manchester United. He made an amazing 758 appearances for the club, a record until Ryan Giggs topped it, and is Old Trafford’s second highest all time scorer with 249 goals. Overcoming the Munich air disaster, Charlton played for United for 17 years and he is now an ambassador for the club, he can always be seen in the stands watching the team on match days. One word; Legend – Sir Bobby Charlton loves United and United loves him.

Some wonderful players have graced the Old Trafford pitch but you would have to say there are not many better than the best of the British footballers who have worn and played in the famous red jersey. Manchester United are a global brand, but English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish talent will always play a part in the current, resent, and history of the club.

About Matt

Matt is the owner and chief-editor of the Footy Blog, one of the UK's leading football news blogs.

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