Ever since its founding in 1892, Newcastle United has been one of the most prestigious football clubs in all of England. Newcastle has been part of the top division in English football in almost every year of existence, and throughout the years has had some amazing players. Which of those are the best, though? Here are our picks for the top five players in Newcastle United history. Before we start the list, some of the players who just missed the cut include Frank Hudspeth, Shay Given, Frank Clark, Len White, and Bill McCracken.
While many of the players on the list were around in more recent years, that wasn’t the case for Jimmy Lawrence. The Scotsman was born in 1879 and his professional career began at the start of the 20th century with Patrick Athletic. After a brief stint with the club (as well as Glasgow Perthshire and Hibernian), he joined Newcastle United for the final 18 years of his career as the club’s goalkeeper.
Lawrence holds the Newcastle United record for matches played, appearing in 496 of them, good for most by a full 24 matches. Lawrence helped Newcastle United win the Football League championship in three years out of five, and he also won the 1910 FA Cup. Because he was around in the days before individual awards were more frequent, Lawrence didn’t win many, but he certainly would have by today’s standards.
Paul Gascoigne was one of the finest midfielders in Newcastle history, and he started with the youth program in 1980 at just 13 years old. Gascoigne then made his professional debut in 1985 with the club, spending three years there before heading to Tottenham Hotspur. Some of the other clubs he played with throughout his lengthy career include Lazio, Rangers, and Everton, before retiring in 2004.
Gascoigne doesn’t find himself toward the top of the list for most matches played or most goals scored, but he did leave his mark on Newcastle during his brief time. Though his personal issues would derail his career, Gascoigne still had a fine playing career. He won the FA Youth Cup with Newcastle in 1985 and was named to the First Division Team of the Year twice while also named the Young Player of the Year.
Kevin Keegan was born in Armthorpe in 1951 and was a member of the Scunthorpe United youth program. He started his professional career with the club in 1968, and after three years made his way to Liverpool. Keegan then spent time with Hamburger SV and Southampton before joining Newcastle United in 1982.
Though he didn’t win any club titles with Newcastle, Keegan had a fine career with the club. He was named the North-East FWA Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons (1983 and 1984) while also being named the Players’ Player of the Year. Prior to his time with Newcastle, Keegan won the Ballon d’Or Trophy in consecutive years (1978 and 1979). He then went on to manage Newcastle United, winning a First Division title.
Taking the second spot on the list is Jackie Milburn, a forward from Ashington who began his professional career with Newcastle United. Milburn joined the senior squad in 1943 and remained with the club for 14 years. In 1957 he departed for Linfield where he would spend another three years before wrapping up his playing days with Yiewsley in 1962.
With Milburn on the squad, Newcastle United would win the FA Cup three times in five seasons between 1951 and 1955. Milburn retired as the second-leading scorer in Newcastle history, scoring 200 on the dot in 397 appearances. In 2006, Milburn was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame due to his contributions to the sport.
The top spot on the list belongs to Newcastle upon Tyne native Alan Shearer. The striker’s career began with Southampton in 1988, and he made his way to Blackburn Rovers for four years in the 1990s. In 1996, Shearer joined Newcastle United, and he would remain there for the final decade of his career. He even managed Newcastle on an interim basis in 2009, three years after his retirement.
Shearer is the all-time leading scorer for Newcastle United, scoring six more goals (206) than Milburn throughout his career. Shearer did that in just 405 appearances, giving him an impressive 0.51 goals per game. He helped Newcastle reach the finals of the FA Cup in back-to-back years in the late 1990s while also being named to the PFA Team of the Year several times. In 2004, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.