Sir Stanley Matthews
The Blackpool and Stoke City legend earned his knighthood in 1965 and became the first footballer to be knighted. He remains the only footballer to be knighted while still playing.
Matthews had an incredible 33-year long professional playing career and quite remarkably, he continued playing professional football until he was 50. Known by several nicknames, including “the Wizard of the Dribble” and “the Magician”, Matthews was also the first recipient of the prestigious Ballon d’Or in 1956. He holds the record for being the oldest player to play a match in first division football as well as the oldest to turn out for the England national team.
Sir Bobby Charlton
The Manchester United and England legend is one of the most respected figures in world football. For the longest time he was the all-time record goalscorer for both the Red Devils as well as the Three Lions before he was overtaken by Wayne Rooney for both the feats.
Charlton was part of Manchester United’s Holy Trinity that comprised of Dennis Law and George Best under the stewardship of the legendary Matt Busby. Charlton was also part of the 1966 World Cup winning England national team.
Sir Geoff Hurst
Hurst was the hero of the English triumph at the 1966 World Cup. He scored a hat-trick as the Three Lions got the better of West Germany in the final and remains the only player to have achieved the feat of scoring thrice in a World Cup final.
The West Ham United legend played over 500 matches for the Hammers and went on to score over 200 goals in all competitions. He earned his knighthood for services to football in 1998 and was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
Sir Tom Finney
The legendary winger played his entire career for Preston North End for whom he turned out from 1946 until 1960. He played 433 league games for the Lilywhites and went on to score 187 times. Finney’s international career saw him don the Three Lions shirt on 76 occasions in which he netted 30 times.
A memorable photograph of Finney evading two defenders on a water-logged Stamford Bridge pitch and creating a splash in the process was later turned into a sculpture, which is now displayed outside the old National Football Museum in Preston.
Sir Trevor Brooking
The former West Ham United midfielder went on to play 647 times for the club over the course of his legendary career. He won the 1975 and the 1980 FA Cups with the Hammers, scoring the only goal in the final of the latter against Arsenal.
Brooking also earned 47 caps for the England national team and scored five times in the process. Since his retirement from the game, the former midfielder has taken up several broadcasting and administrative roles in English football. A stand at Upton Park was named after Brooking and he was knighted by the British monarchy in 2004.