Goal.com's Top 50 English Players: Paul Ince (46)

Goal.com are counting down England's greatest players of all time and at number 46 is the self-styled ‘Guv’nor’ Paul Ince ...
No.50 - John Terry
No.49 - Tony Currie
No.48 - Terry Butcher
No.47 - Gerry Hitchens





53 caps, 2 goals


West Ham United, Manchester United, Inter, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Swindon Town, Macclesfield Town

An often controversial figure, Paul Ince was a brilliant midfielder and an integral part of Manchester United’s double-winning side of 1994.

Having made the breakthrough at West Ham United, the youngster signed for the Red Devils in a transfer that caused huge controversy and turned the young midfielder into a figure of hate in East London.

Ince was photographed in a Manchester United shirt long before his transfer took place, a move that smacked of immaturity and, unsurprisingly, invoked fury among the fans that used to worship him at Upton Park.

Yet the move to Old Trafford saw Ince flourish into a superb midfield anchorman, whose tackling, passing and work-rate earned him both domestic honours and international recognition.


"Incey definitely one of the best holding midfielders of his time. The picture brings back memories of how he played his heart and soul against Italy during the qualifiers. He should have won more silverwares and that as the best English team in over a decade" - Charlie | London
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The midfielder won the FA Cup in his first season at the club before quickly establishing himself as an integral part in one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest-ever Manchester United sides.

After winning the title in 1993, in 1994 Ince went one better, claiming a Premier League and FA Cup double in a swash-buckling team that included the likes of Eric Cantona, Peter Schmeichel, Andrei Kanchelskis, Mark Hughes and Ryan Giggs.

However, the United dream quickly turned sour for Ince and after ending the following season empty-handed, Ferguson sold him to Inter - along the way famously dismissing him as a “big time Charlie”.

Yet Ince is a man who does not lack self-confidence; after all, this is the player who famously nicknamed himself “the Guv’nor”, and with Fergie’s barbs still ringing in his ears he happily swapped Manchester for Milan.

The midfielder enjoyed his two-year spell in Italy where his work ethic was warmly welcomed, and he is one of the few Englishmen to really impress in Serie A.

Whilst Ince was undoubtedly a San Siro success, his performances were not enough to see him claim a trophy during his stay, although he certainly came agonisingly close - losing in the UEFA Cup final to Schalke on penalties.

Following his brief sojourn in Milan, Ince then returned to England to play for United’s bitter rivals Liverpool before enjoying spells at Middlesbrough, Wolves, Swindon and Macclesfield as his career wound down.

Yet it was not only domestically where Ince sparkled, he also played a major role for his country and indeed made history in 1993 when he became the first black player to captain England.

The midfielder became a regular partner to Paul Gascoigne in the heart of the England team, being dubbed as “Gazza’s minder” as he protected the defence whilst the wayward one marauded forwards.


Sending England To France 98
Having missed out on the 1994 World Cup, as England failed to qualify, Ince was a major figure in Euro 1996 as England reached the semi-finals before once again departing after failing in a penalty shoot-out.

However, perhaps his finest hour for his country followed that tournament as England attempted to qualify for World Cup 1998.

Back in Italy, at the Stadio Olimpico, Ince and the Three Lions needed just a point to qualify from their last group game but were up against a formidable Italian side.

Ince sustained a head injury early on, that left him bloodied and brought back memories of Terry Butcher, yet he stayed on the field to help his country to an impressive goalless draw that saw them through to the World Cup finals.

The midfielder later told the media, “That was the night I looked like a pint of Guinness when I walked off,” but also admitted it was a game he would never forget and was “probably my proudest moment on the pitch”.

Premier League (1992-93, 1993-94)
FA Cup (1990, 1994)
League Cup (1992)
Community Shield (1990, 1993, 1994)
Cup Winners Cup (1991)
Super Cup (1991)

That Paul Ince is the cousin of boxer Nigel Benn?

Gill Clark, Goal.com

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