In 1878, the Everton Football Club was formed. It has remained a staple at the highest levels of English soccer since then, with only four seasons spent in relegation.
Everton is an institution in English top-flight football, holding second place on the record chart for the longest continuous playing team and third place in the all-time points rankings for top-flight soccer.
Over this almost century and a half of history, Everton has had some incredible players, and we’ll break down 9 of the best to ever don the blue and white.
9. Gary LinekerEmbed from Getty Images
- Years with Everton FC: 1985 -1986
- Position: Centre-Forward
It may seem strange to include a player on this list who only spent one season with Everton, but Gary Lineker’s short time at Everton was explosive, to say the least. He made 40 goals in his 57 appearances with the club.
In this one season, he scored three hat-tricks against Birmingham City, Manchester City, and Southampton. Lineker also went out with style, knocking two into the back of the net against West Ham United on his last game with Everton.
But Lineker didn’t just smash scoring records when he was at Everton. He’s the only player in recorded history to have spent a season as the top scorer in three different clubs (Leicester City, where he played from 1978 to 1985, Everton, and Tottenham Hotspur, where he played from 1989-1992).
Lineker is a legend, and he took to the television airwaves to have a lengthy and continuing career as a sports broadcaster.
8. Kevin SheedyEmbed from Getty Images
- Years with Everton FC: 1982 – 1992
- Position: Left Midfield
Kevin Sheedy overlapped a lot of his Everton career with number two on our list, Graeme Sharp, and the two enjoyed a lot of the same successes. However, before Sheedy made the switch to Everton, he actually made three appearances over four seasons with Everton’s biggest rival, Liverpool.
Once he got to Everton, Sheedy would go on to score 67 goals for the team. Sheedy was well-known for his proficiency in taking free kicks, including a famous goal in the 1985 FA Cup game against Ipswich Town.
He took a second kick after the first was disallowed, and since he blasted the first kick into the goalie’s right-hand corner of the net, he curled the second one into the goalie’s left-hand corner. He even went on to reference this duet of free kicks in the title of the book he published in 2014: “So Good I Did It Twice.”
Sheedy played with style, often appearing as the left midfielder, which he referenced in the subtitle of that same 2014 book. The full title is “So Good I Did It Twice: My Life From Left Field.” He was also a left-footed player, which no doubt added to his style and the mythos around Sheedy’s game.
7. Alan Ball Jr.Embed from Getty Images
- Years with Everton FC: 1966 – 1971
- Position: Central Midfield
Alan Ball spent five years early on in his career with Everton, transferring to the Merseyside team after his record-setting appearance in the 1966 World Cup, which England would go on to win. At age 22, he was the youngest player on the England side.
His performance led to the highest-ever (at the time) transfer fee from Blackpool to Everton. In his time with Everton, Ball would suit up 259 times and score 79 goals before moving on to Arsenal.
Ball would be instrumental in getting Everton to the finals of the FA Cup in 1968 and winning the 1970 Football League Championship.
6. Bob LatchfordEmbed from Getty Images
- Years with Everton FC: 1974-1981
- Position: Centre-Forward
Although Bob Latchford played for nine different teams in his 19-season playing career, he had by far the most appearances for Everton. In fact, 236 of his 550 appearances were for The Toffees.
And he was busy while he was there. For six seasons in a row, Latchford scored more goals than any of his Everton teammates, and in the 1977-78 season, he won 10,000 Great British pounds for scoring 30 goals in a single season.
Everton FC didn’t pay him a bonus for this incredible feat. Instead, it was a national newspaper who had put forward the prize to the first soccer player to hit that achievement.
He isn’t the only player to write a book about his time at Everton. In 2006, he wrote the story of that historic 1977-78 season and the 30 goals he scored. He donates the proceeds from the book to the Everton Former Players Foundation.
5. Leighton Baines
- Years with Everton FC: 2007 – 2020
- Position: Left-Back
As a child, Leighton played for Everton’s youth team, and after five seasons with Wigan Athletic, he came back to Everton where he played out the rest of his professional career.
During his 13 seasons with Everton, he made 378 appearances and 35 goals. Baines is widely known as a strong defender, usually playing the position of left back.
He was also able to score reliably off of set pieces and penalty kicks, one of which was named the Everton Goal of the Season in the 2010-11 season. Baines was also great at providing opportunities for his teammates, frequently setting up assists.
He even stayed with the organization after he retired as an athlete and is now the Professional Development Coach for Everton’s youth academy. In addition, he is the interim assistant manager of Everton’s under-18 squad, and there are talks he will one day be the manager of Everton.
4. Edgar Chadwick
- Years with Everton FC: 1888 – 1899
- Position: Second Striker
Edgar Chadwick wasn’t playing at Everton from the very beginning (that was 1878), but Chadwick did get on the Everton team in the early years. In his 20-season career, Chadwick played 11 seasons with Everton, making 270 appearances and scoring 97 goals.
Many consider Edgar Chadwick the first of the club’s major legends due to his prolific scoring and his style on the pitch. He would frequently trick goalkeepers, luring them towards the post before firing back over their heads.
He was on the team when Everton won the Football League championship in the 1890-91 season, and he was a part of two teams that made it to the FA Cup finals, although they didn’t win.
In 1893 and 1897, Chadwick and his Everton squad were defeated in the FA Cup final by the Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa, respectively.
3. Neville SouthallEmbed from Getty Images
|Games||Goals Conceded||Clean Sheets|
- Years with Everton FC: 1981 – 1998
- Position: Goalkeeper
This Welsh player was a part of Everton FC for 13 seasons, spending four seasons of his time with Everton on loan to various teams around the country.
He made 578 appearances between the posts for Everton, a record for most league appearances for the team. He also holds the record for the most clean sheets, which was 269.
That math breaks down to a stunning statistic: In almost half of the games in his Everton career, he didn’t concede a single goal.
2. Graeme SharpEmbed from Getty Images
- Years with Everton FC: 1980 – 1991
- Position: Centre-Forward
This Glaswegian forward had a professional soccer career that spanned almost two decades, where he made 469 appearances for three different teams. His 11 years at Everton were incredibly prosperous.
During his 322 appearances for the team, he scored 111 goals. He also was part of the squad that helped Everton win the FA in 1984, the European Cup in 1985, and the English league championships in 1985 and 1987.
He played with Everton during a time when they were on the top frequently, winning or getting to the finals in many major championship games. Everton went to the FA Cup final in 1986 and 1989, losing both times to their biggest rival, Liverpool.
Despite these tough losses, Sharp gained respect for Everton against their derby rivals. In 1984, Sharp ended a 14-season winning drought at Anfield, Liverpool’s famed playing ground.
His was the only goal of that game and led the team to a statistically rare win against The Reds. In the two teams’ 291 matchups since 1894, Liverpool has won 123 teams. Everton has only won 83 of the matchups, and 85 have been drawn.
Sharp was a prolific scorer during his time with Everton, setting a record for goals scored that hasn’t been matched in the post-war era, with only number 1 on this list, Dixie Dean, outscoring him.
Sharp broke Bob Latchford’s (who is number 7 on this list) post-war scoring goal for Everton. Latchford’s scoring record stood for eight years. Sharp’s stands to this day.
1. Dixie DeanEmbed from Getty Images
- Years with Everton FC: 1925 – 1937
- Position: Centre-Forward
Dixie grew up as a fan of Everton FC after going to a game with his father during their 1914-15 season. After playing with the local club Tranmere Rovers for two years, he joined Everton FC as a center forward.
Dixie Dean’s time at Everton was incredibly successful. In fact, he still holds the record that he set in the 1927-28 season.
To this day, Dixie Dean is the only English player to have ever scored 60 goals in a single season, which he did when he was 21 years old. He also holds the pre-World War II scoring record for Everton, which is higher than Graeme Sharp’s post-World War II scoring record by more than double. Dean netted 383 goals to Sharp’s 159.
In that season, Everton won the First Division title, and the team would have a roller-coaster ride over the next few season.
Dixie stayed with the team when they were relegated to the Second Division in 1931, helped them get promoted back to the First Division in 1932, and then win the FA Cup in 1933. No English team has repeated this drastic down-and-up since that time.
The Latin phrase “Nil satis nisi optimum” is printed beneath the blue shield on Everton FC’s logo, and it translates to “Nothing but the best is good enough.”
Over the long arc of their history, Everton FC has chosen players who help them achieve their goal of being the best.