Home » Internationals » Who Are the Best Players to Ever Play for Ireland’s National Team?

Who Are the Best Players to Ever Play for Ireland’s National Team?

The Ireland international football team may not be in a great place right now and could certainly do with the luck of the Irish. Playing at a top is a lot of fun if you are feeling lucky but the Republic of Ireland football team could do with having some of their legends back right now to help them up the world rankings.

In terms of the best players to ever play for the Irish national team it is difficult to argue against the inclusion ofRoy Keane. The former Nottingham Forest and Manchester United midfielder is perhaps the best player ever to represent Ireland. Keane bossed the ManchesterUnited midfield in the English Premier League for several years, helping them to multiple titles along the way. Keane is a controversial figure and many Irish football fans will remember him for the time he was sent home from the 2002 World Cup after criticising the preparations for the tournament, including the training facilities.

However, Keane established himself as one of the best central midfield players in the world at Manchester United and there can be no doubting his ability on the pitch.

From one Keane to another and we come to Robbie Keane. The former striker is Ireland’s record goalscorer with a fantastic 68 career goals to his name and 146 caps. So, Keane holds the record as both the leading goalscorer and highest number of caps for Ireland and that alone warrants inclusion in the group of best players to ever play for the Ireland national team.

Young football fans will not remember Liam Brady but the fact he played for Arsenal, Juventus, Sampdoria, and Inter Milan tells you everything you need to know about the midfielder. Brady played 72 times for Ireland and when he performed, there was a rarely a better player on the pitch. Brady won the Italian Serie A title twice with Juventus and was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year for the1978/79 season when playing for Arsenal.

In terms of pure natural ability, not many players can come close to Paul McGrath. He may have suffered from injury problems during his career but when he was on the pitch, there were not many players who could get the better of the defender. McGrath is one of only six defenders to have won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, doing so during his time at Aston Villa and he delivered a masterclass when marking Roberto Baggio in the 1994 World Cup against Italy.

Remaining in defence and one of the best players to pull on the Irish shirt is David O’Leary. He won a league and cup double with Arsenal, amassing over 550 appearances for the club before moving to Leeds United. O’Leary played 68 times for his country and is remembered for scoring the winning penalty in the shootout against Romania to take Ireland to the quarter final of the 1990 World Cup.

Some of the other great players to represent Ireland include John Aldridge, Damien Duff, Ronnie Whelan, Ray Houghton, Denis Irwin, Richard Dunne, and Shay Given.