Everton is one of the oldest football clubs in England and a founding member of the Football League which is now the English Premier League. During its long stretch that dates back to 1878, there have been some terrific footballers to play for Everton, with these five standing out as the best. Before we start the list, some of the players who just missed the cut include Alan Ball, Kevin Sheedy, Bob Latchford, Leighton Baines, and Gary Lineker.
Starting off the list is Kevin Ratcliffe, who spent the majority of his career playing with Everton. The Welshman came up with the Everton youth program and made his professional debut in 1980. He remained with the club for 12 years before spending the final three years of his career playing with several clubs including Dundee, Cardiff City, and Chester City before retiring in 1995 and beginning a managerial career.
Ratcliffe is fifth all-time in Everton history with 494 matches played during his long stint, and even as someone who primarily played defense, Ratcliffe was able to net two goals. With Ratcliffe, Everton won the Football League First Division twice in three years and the FA Cup in 1983-84. What’s even more impressive was that he was able to help guide Everton to four straight FA Charity Shields from 1984 to 1987.
There was a time when playing for just one club for your entire career was fairly common, and that was the case for Brian Labone. The Liverpool native was 17 years old when he decided to skip college and play for Everton, and he made his professional debut the following year in 1958. Labone played for 13 years with Everton before retiring in 1971 after injuring himself following years of flirting with retirement.
With Labone, Everton won the First Division twice (1962-63 and 1969-70). He also won an FA Cup and a pair of FA Charity Shields. Labone was named to the Everton all-time team in 2004, and upon his death in 2006, many mourned his loss saying that he was perhaps the biggest staple of the club throughout his playing years.
The second Welshman on the list and third-ranked overall is Neville Southall, a man who had been a professional footballer for years prior to joining Everton. He began his career in 1973 with Llandudno Town, then moved on to Bangor City, Conwy United, Winsford United, and Bury throughout the rest of the decade. He became part of Everton in 1981 and remained with the club until 1998, but played professionally for another few years after departing.
Southall holds the record (by a large margin) for matches played wearing an Everton kit with 751. That’s nearly 200 more than second-place Labone. Southall was a fantastic goalkeeper who helped Everton win the First Division twice in 1985 and 1987. He was named to the First Division Team of the Year in four straight years and won a trio of Charity Shields during his Hall of Fame career.
Taking the silver medal on the list is Graeme Sharp, a Scotsman who began his playing career with Dumbarton in 1978. Sharp remained there for just two years before joining Everton and would stick around for just over a decade. Sharp finished his career with six years at Oldham Athletic and a brief stint at Bangor City where he became manager after his retirement in 1997.
Sharp is not only second on this list, but he’s second all-time in goals scored for Everton with 159. While this puts him far behind the number-one player, he still has a comfortable lead over anyone else behind him. Sharp won the First Division twice with Everton, as well as the Charity Shield four times. He led all Everton players in scoring in four seasons while also being named to the First Division Team of the Year in 1987-88.
The top spot on the list goes to the most prominent goalscorer in Everton history, Dixie Dean. Dean was born in Birkenhead in 1907 and had such an impact on the club that his statue sits outside of Goodison Park. Dean began his career with Tranmere Rovers in 1923, and two years later joined Everton for his 12-year stint. Though he wrapped up his playing days with three other clubs between 1938 and 1940, Dean will always be synonymous with Everton.
Dean netted an insane 386 goals while a member of Everton, which is 227 more than Graeme Sharp. Dean helped Everton win the First Division in both 1928 and 1932 while also winning the FA Cup in 1933. In 2002, Dean became an inaugural member of the English Football Hall of Fame and still holds the record for most goals in an English top-flight season with 60.