The first ever international match recognised by FIFA wasn’t a classic, ending in a goalless draw between England and Scotland. The game occurred in 1872 and pitted the Auld enemy against each in Glasgow. Since that date, 149 years of international matches have passed and the Three Lions have gone onto reach 15 World Cup finals and 10 European Championships, with the 1966 World Cup being their one success to date. England have racked up over 1,000 international matches, with over 1,244 players capped but only nine have joined the exclusive England Centurions club by receiving 100 caps for their national team.
Peter Shilton 125
The most capped and longest serving England player in history. Goalkeeper, Peter Shilton racked up 125 caps between 1970-1990 and captained the Three Lions on 16 different occasions. During that period the shot-stopper played for five different league sides which included Leicester City, Stoke City, Nottingham Forest, Southampton and Derby County which is a joint record which is shared by four other England players, David James, Scott Parker, David Platt and David Watson.
Shilton made his debut aged 21 against East Germany in 1970 and eventually replaced World Cup winner Gordan Banks between the posts as England No 1. He made his final appearance at Italia 90 against hosts Italy in the World Cup third place play-off match which they unfortunately lost. During his lengthy international career he played under five different managers in Sir Bobby Robson, Ron Greenwood, Sir Alf Ramsay, Joe Mercer and Don Revie.
He represented England at the Euro Championships in 1980 and 1988, World Cup finals in 1982, 1986 and 1990. Although Shilton didn’t make his World Cup finals debut until the age of 32, he played in 17 matches and shares the record of 10 clean sheets with French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. Shilts still holds the record for England clean sheets with 66 shut outs.
Wayne Rooney 120
The most capped outfield player goes to Wayne Rooney who made 120 appearances in an England shirt between 2003 and 2018 which makes it the third longest England career behind Peter Shilton and Sir Stanley Matthews.
He also has the distinction of being England’s top marksmen with 53 goals to his name. He broke Bobby Charlton’s 45-year record of 49 goals in 2015 when he registered his half century of international goals from the spot against Switzerland. The former Everton and Manchester United striker also holds the record as England’s youngest ever goal scorer when he bagged his first England goal against Macedonia back in 2003 aged just 17 years old, which superseded Michael’s Owen’s existing record at 19 years old.
Wazza also holds the joint record with Sol Campbell and Steven Gerrard for appearing in the most tournaments for England, six in total. The Liverpudlian featured in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups and Euro 2004, 2012 and 2016. He’s widely regarded as one of England’s greatest ever players and has won the England Player of the Year award four times, in 2008, 2009, 2014, and 2015.
David Beckham 115
David Beckham AKA ‘Becks’ or ‘Golden Balls’ made his England debut aged 21 in 1996 against Moldova and went on to rack up 115 caps and score 17 goals for the Three Lions. The cultured midfielder was a leader on and off the pitch and went on to captain England 59 times, making him the fourth most capped captain behind Billy Wright, Bobby Moore and Bryan Robson.
The Manchester United, Class of 92 superstar had a superb passing range and his crossing accuracy provided many assists for England strikers. He was also a free kick specialist and his first goal for England was one to remember against Columbia in the World Cup finals in France 98. However, his most important free kick for England was in the last minute of a World Cup qualifier against Greece at Old Trafford. Losing 2-1, step forward Becks and the rest they say is history as he secured England a place at the 2002 World Cup. Nobody bends it like Beckham.
The former Ballon D’Or runner up (1999) also holds the record for England appearances made whilst playing for a non-British team. Becks won 55 of his caps whilst playing for Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and AC Milan. He also holds the record for the first Englishman to win league titles in four different countries (England, Spain, USA and France) and he was the first Englishman to score in three different World Cups. The global ambassador even has a Blue Peter Gold badge and a spice girl wife!
Steve Gerrard 114
Stevie G made his England debut in 2000 against the Ukraine ahead of Euro 2000 and the Liverpool man went on to represent the Three Lions in six major tournaments which is a joint record held with both Sol Campbell and Wayne Rooney.
During his international career the dynamic midfielder scored 21 goals in the 14 years playing for his country. The first of which would take some beating as Gerrard scored a cracker in the famous 5-1 victory over Germany away in Munich back in 2001.
Out of the 114 appearances for England, the Liverpool leader captained the Three Lions 38 times which makes him the 5th most capped captain. He became the 6th player in history to reach the illustrious 100 cap milestone for England.
Bobby Moore 108
Bobby Moore made his England debut against Peru in 1962 and went on to become England’s youngest ever captain the year later at just 22 years. Bobby went on to set a record 108 caps for England (a record which stood for 16 years); he also equalled Billy Wright’s record of 90 games as England captain, a record which still stands. However, that record would have been broken if he’d not graciously relinquished the captain’s armband to mark Bobby Charlton 100th cap in 1970. After 11 years representing the Three Lions he ended his international career in 1972 aged 32 with 2 goals to his name.
Pelé said he was the greatest defender he had ever played against and you can’t argue against that accolade. A national icon, Moore has a bronze statue positioned at the entrance to Wembley Stadium. He sadly passed away of cancer aged just 51 in 1993.
Ashley Cole 107
Speedy full back Cole has the honour of being the most capped full back and the England player to represent the Three Lions at a major tournament the most with 22 appearances during his 107 cap international career. The Arsenal and Chelsea defender played for England from 2001 to 2014, playing at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups, as well as Euro 2004 and Euro 2012. He was also voted England Player of the Year in 2010.
He also had the honour of captaining his national side at Wembley against the Republic of Ireland in a 1-1 draw back in 2013. Domestically, the talented left back still holds the record for the most FA Cup winners medals with three at Arsenal and four with Chelsea.
Sir Bobby Charlton 106
Another World Cup Winner makes the elite list of England Centurions. The Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton played an instrumental part in Sir Alf Ramsay’s team that helped England lift the Jules Rimet in 1966. The same year, Sir Bobby became only the second Englishman to honoured with the prestigious Ballon D’Or, only Kevin Keegan and Michael Owen have won the honour since.
Sir Bobby Charlton’s was well known for his ferocious shooting from distance, and he was England’s top goal scorer until Wayne Rooney surpassed his 49 goal record in 2015 but he still has the honour of being England’s top goalscoring midfielder.
He made his debut for England against Scotland in 1958, just over two months after he had survived the Munich air disaster and his 12 year international came to and end at the 1970 World Cup Finals. He’s the only England Centurion who has been honoured by the Queen when he was knighted in 1994.
Frank Lampard Jnr 106
Box to box midfielder, Super Frank Lampard made 106 appearances for England between 1999-2014 and scored 29 goals for the Three Lions. If we had VAR at the World Cup in 2010 that total would definitely be 30 goals as his strike against Germany had crossed the line by a good foot but was controversially not awarded.
Part of the Golden Generation that included the like Michael Owen, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard. Up against some fierce opposition Frank was voted England Player of the Year by fans in 2004 and 2005. The Chelsea man also followed in his father’s foot steps to become only one of four other father / son partnerships to play for England.
Billy Wright 105
The first England centurion was legendary Wolves defender Billy Wright who reached 100 caps against Scotland in 1959. He went on to make a further 5 appearances for the Three Lions before retiring from International football. He was the first football player in the world to earn 100 caps, and it was more than a decade before his record was broken by another England player, Sir Bobby Charlton.
A natural leader, Billy Wright captained England 90 times during 1946-1959 which is still a joint record held with Bobby Moore today. Remarkably, he was never booked or sent off during his entire England career.
He was the inaugural winner of the Ballon D’Or winner in 1956 and is still only 1 of 4 other Englishmen to win this accolade alongside Bobby Charlton, Kevin Keegan and Michael Owen. He’s also the only Centurion who won all of his 105 caps under the management of one boss, Walter Winterbottom. Just like Becks, he had a showbiz wife too.
Who will be the next centurion?