Back in the Champions League after a 20-year absence, Newcastle are striving for greatness once again – and a new generation of players could emulate some of the club's greats of yesteryear.
Major silverware may have eluded this famous old club since the 1960s, but great players have not – nor did they before that long, long trophy drought, for that matter.
Some true footballing icons have stepped out in black and white over the decades, endearing themselves to the ever-loyal Toon Army with goalkeeping heroics, rock-solid defensive displays, midfield dynamism, and prolific form in front of goal.
Here, FourFourTwo trawls through the history books to try and determine the 10 greatest Newcastle players EVER...
10. Malcolm Macdonald
Malcom Macdonald’s Newcastle career was relatively short – he spent five seasons at St. James’ Park – but he managed to amass enough goals (138) to still rank as the Magpies fifth-highest scorer of all time.
Signed from Luton in 1971, Macdonald wasted no time endearing himself to the Toon Army, hitting a hat-trick on his home debut against Liverpool – which was certainly a sign of things to come: the 14-cap England international scored at least 24 goals in each of his five Newcastle campaigns.
9. Paul Gascoigne
England has produced few more entertaining footballers than Paul Gascoigne – who broke into the Newcastle first team just over a month shy of his 18th birthday, having captained the Magpies to victory in the 1984/85 FA Youth Cup.
Off-field issues meant that Gazza’s career was never quite as spectacular is it ought to have been – but his time on Tyneside is fondly remembered – not least his fine 1987/88 campaign, which secured him a then British record £2.2m move to Tottenham.
8. Rob Lee
Rob Lee won promotion to the top flight in his first season at Newcastle – and spent the next decade pulling on the iconic black and white kit, playing a pivotal midfield role for Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’ side.
Capped 21 times by England – for whom he featured at the 1998 World Cup – Lee amassed 267 Premier League appearances for Newcastle, placing him fourth on the club’s all-time list in the competition.
7. Shay Given
One of the standout goalkeepers of the Premier League era, no one has been a greater servant to Newcastle between the sticks than Shay Given.
No goalkeeper has made more appearances for Newcastle than Given’s 463 – which places him third among players in all positions to ever turn out for the club – and no one has featured more times in Europe for the Magpies than the safe-handed Irishman (54).
6. Kevin Keegan
Kevin Keegan made fewer than 100 appearances for the club he would go on to famously manage – but 85 games was all he needed to cement his place among Newcastle’s greatest ever performers on the pitch.
Having racked up 49 goals in two seasons with the Magpies, the 1978 and 1979 Ballon d’Or winner ended his playing career at St. James’ Park in 1984 (well, until he briefly came out of retirement for the shortest of stints with Australian outfit Blacktown City the following year.
5. Bobby Moncur
Bobby Moncur last pulled on a Newcastle shirt in 1974 – but, nearly half a century later, the legendary defender remains the club’s last captain to lift a major trophy: the 1968/69 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
It’s an honour the ex-Scotland international – who also played for Newcastle’s arch-rivals Sunderland – would rather not have, though: “I’m in a club I don’t really want to be in,” he admitted ahead of the Magpies’ Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester United back in February.
4. Peter Beardsley
Peter Beardsley’s mazy dribbles are a staple of Premier League Years episodes from the 90s – a large chunk of which the ex-England forward spent with Newcastle – having previously left his boyhood club for Liverpool in 1987.
A key creator Keegan's 'Entertainers' after rejoining the Magpies in 1993, Beardsley made 185 Premier League appearances for Newcastle and was involved 91 goals – scoring 58 and assisting a further 33.
3. Hughie Gallacher
It’s been almost a century since Newcastle were last crowned champions of England – and Hughie Gallacher was an integral member of that 1926/27 title-winning side, banging in 36 goals over the course of the campaign, still a club record for league goals in a single season.
Gallacher wracked up 143 goals in 174 appearances in five years with Newcastle altogether, before departing for Chelsea – and he was even more prolific for Scotland, finding the net 24 times in 20 caps.
2. Jackie Milburn
Affectionately known as Wor Jackie, Jackie Milburn’s goals helped fire Newcastle to three FA Cup triumphs during the club’s glorious 1950s.
Born into a footballing family in Ashington, Northumberland, Milburn spent almost his entire career with Newcastle, amassing 200 goals in 14 seasons at St. James’ Park – more than any player in the Magpies’ history bar Alan Shearer.
Honoured by having a stand named after him (and a steam locomotive – as you do…), and no fewer than three statues commissioned, the legacy of this true titan of Tyneside sport could hardly be more guaranteed to last.
1. Alan Shearer
Was it ever going to be anyone else at the top of this list? Few would dispute that hometown hero Alan Shearer is Newcastle’s greatest player of all time – and one of the greatest players of the Premier League era.
The Toon legend turned Match of the Day pundit still holds the Premier League’s all-time goal record with a whopping 260 goals (and 200 for Newcastle in all) – and with Harry Kane potentially on his way to Bayern Munich, it might still be some time before Shearer us surpassed.
Shearer never won a major trophy during his Newcastle career, but there’s no denying the impact he had on some truly great Newcastle teams – starring under the likes of fellow St. James’ Park legends Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson.
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