Red Devil's advocate: Trying to name 1,000 Premier League players better than Beckham

The former Tottenham & Marseille man does not believe the retiring icon ranks among the top footballers to have played in England in the last 20 years. So we try to name them all!
Chris Waddle believes there have been 1,000 Premier League players that are better than David Beckham, who announced his retirement on Thursday.

Here at Goal, we decided to test the theory and name as many footballers that can be considered better than the man who represented Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain in his illustrious career.

It's not going to be easy, so on Friday we invited you to have your say on the site and on Twitter.

Seriously, this is going to be really hard! Join us as we try to name 1,000 Premier League players better than Beckham - remember, we are playing Red Devil's advocate and do not necessarily believe in these choices! Here goes...


These players should not cause too many arguments among you; there are some top-class footballers who have won World Cups, European Championships and Balons d'Or. So, in no particular order, perhaps Waddle had these players in mind:

Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Pires, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, David Seaman, Peter Schmeichel, Sol Campbell, Carlos Tevez,
So that's the truly world-class talent out of the way. Still a lot of players to go!
Dennis Bergkamp, Didier Drogba, John Terry, Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Petr Cech, Robin van Persie, Tony Adams, Jaap Stam, Ryan Giggs, Eric Cantona, Emmanuel Petit, Freddie Ljungberg, Arjen Robben, Marcel Desailly, Gianfranco Zola, Edwin van der Sar.


Maybe Waddle, who won 62 England caps in his day, believes that great goalscorers are better than Beckham. If so, he might rank these above the 38-year-old:

Ruud van Nistelrooy, Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Robbie Fowler, Kevin Phillips, Robbie Keane, Les Ferdinand, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Jermain Defoe, Emile Heskey, Dion Dublin, Darren Bent, Yakubu, Mark Viduka, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, James Beattie, Dimitar Berbatov, Kevin Davies, Louis Saha, Emmanuel Adebayor, Chris Sutton, Kevin Campbell, Gary Speed, Craig Bellamy, Tony Cottee, Peter Crouch, Chris Armstrong, Brian Deane - the man who scored the first Premier League goal, no less - Duncan Ferguson, Dean Holdsworth, Gabriel Agbonlahor.

All of those men have scored more Premier League goals than Becks, so can they be counted as better players? A few names in there may cause some complaints *cough* Heskey *cough*!

Juan Pablo Angel, Paulo Wanchope, Jurgen Klinsmann, Stan Collymore, Tim Cahill, Nwankwo Kanu, Mark Bright, Teddy Sheringham, Andy Johnson. They all knew where the goal is, so let's add those to the list as well while we're at it.


Hmmm, these choices are a bit more controversial, but we're getting towards 100!
The Premier League certainly boasts some stars names these days, so let's put these eye-catching performers above old Goldenballs:

Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Sergio Aguero, Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez, Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres, Samir Nasri, Nani, David Silva, Hugo Lloris, Santi Cazorla, Leighton Baines, Hatem Ben Arfa, David Luiz, Philippe Coutinho, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure.


And lest we forget the players who lit up the Premier League right the way back to the early 1990s, who maybe didn't have the celebrity status of the former England captain:

Paul Ince, Mark Hughes, David Ginola, Matt Le Tisier, Juninho, Paolo Di Canio, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Paul McGrath, Tim Sherwood, Denis Irwin, Stuart Pearce, David Hirst, John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce, Chris Sutton, Ian Rush, Paul Merson, Gary McAllister, Dean Saunders, Niall Quinn, Andrei Kanchelskis, Roberto Di Matteo, Colin Hendry, Tony Yeboah, Neville Southall, Lee Sharpe, Pierre van Hooijdonk, Darren Huckerby, Gary Neville, Frank Lebouef, Lucas Radebe, Gus Poyet, Fabien Barthez, Dietmar Hamann, Nolberto Solano, Steve McManaman.

There are at least a few World Cups and Champions Leagues in there, maybe we will get to 1,000 after all!


These are the players who, in some cases, were among the very best, but things did not quite work out for them in the Premier League. Whether their best days were during the 1980s but they hung on for a few more years, they came to England from abroad at the end of their careers, or they played here in their early days before moving on to bigger things, there's no doubting some of these were truly brilliant players. But better than Beckham? Let's see.

After the top-class talent and some perma-crocks we only need another 824
Juan Sebastian Veron, Ruud Gullit, Laurent Blanc, Fernando Hierro, Ivan Campo, Fernando Morientes, Bryan Robson, Christophe Dugarry, Branco, Jay-Jay Okocha, Christian Karembeau, Marco Materazzi, Deco, Nicholas Anelka, Gerard Pique, Andrei Arshavin, Roberto Mancini, Andrey Shevchenko, George Weah, Cesc Fabregas, Hernan Crespo, Henrik Larsson, Glenn Hoddle, Ray Wilkins, Gordon Strachan, Luka Modric, Michael Essien, Gianluca Vialli, Javier Mascherano, Attilio Lombardo, Sergi Rebrov, Jari Litmanen, Robinho, Alen Boksic, Gaizka Mendieta, Geremi, Brian McBride, Benni McCarthy, Xabi Alonso, Claude Makelele.

And what about Chris Waddle himself? His heyday was very much pre-Premier League, but he played on after 1992-93, so let's put him in!


Some of these guys could have been among the best in the world had it not been for injuries, so there's a chance that Waddle would include these in his list:

8/1 David Beckham is 8/1 with Coral to manage a Premier League club
Jonathan Woodgate, Michael Owen, Darren Anderton, Ledley King, Alan Smith, Joe Cole, Jamie Redknapp.


Ok, so this is proving extremely difficult. We need another 824 players! How about this lot? They had some magic in their boots (or gloves):

William Gallas, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Jose Antonio Reyes, Mikael Forssell, Luis Boa Morte, Yossi Benayoun, Pepe Reina, Jens Lehmann, Kevin Nolan, Steed Malbranque, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Aaron Lennon, Roque Santa Cruz, Florent Malouda, Rafael van der Vaart, Martin Laursen, Benjani, John Carew, Geovanni, Damian Duff, Ashley Young.


After consulting the Goal UK Twitter account, using the hashtag #betterthanbecks, we've had some suggestions:

@Blog_Aces suggests Mikel Arteta. Now that's not a bad call!

Commenting on our original Waddle article, 'Anonymous' threw up plenty of names that we already have, but also the likes of Lee Dixon, Martin Keown, and Ricardo Carvalho.

We give up! Even scraping the barrel, we fall around 800 players short!
Back on Twitter , @JVamcas suggests Kevin Mirallas, Scott Parker and Phil Jagielka, among others.

Meanwhile, @o_a_a_i_mrl puts forward Bebe, Eric Djemba-Djemba and Marouane Chamakh, while @boringcarlos says Luke Chadwick.

Alright, alright, this is getting silly now. We give up. NO MORE! We've pushed the envelope far enough, and we are nowhere near the magical 1,000 mark.

Even after considering those players with a bit of magic who did not shine as brightly as Brand Beckham, and some downright ridiculous suggestions as well, we are still well short of Waddle's target.

But, just like Beckham's career, it was fun while it lasted, right?