Based in the Hampshire province in England, Southampton FC was originally founded at St. Mary’s Church on 21st of November 1885 by members of the St. Mary’s Church of England Young Men’s Association. The club was first named as St. Mary’s Young Men’s Association F.C. after which it was simply called as St. Mary’s F.C. in 1887–88 before being instilled as Southampton F.C in 1896–97 after winning the Southern League title.
Being one of the founding members of the Premier League in 1992-93, the club did face some tough times to remain in the top tier of English football. After 27 years of continuously competing in the First Division, Southampton were relegated from the Premier League in 2005. The club however returned to the top division seven years later in 2012 and have remained afloat ever since.
The Saints have been crowned the champions of Football League One once in 1960 and have also won the prestigious FA Cup in 1976. Given their rich history and past roots, we have witnessed some of the finest talents from across the globe represent the Saints in the years gone by who have given moments that shall forever be etched in the hearts of their supporters. Here’s a countdown to the Top 12 greatest Southampton players of all time.
The 12 Greatest Southampton Players Of All Time are –
4 RON DAVIES
When Sir Matt Busby was asked for his opinion on Ron Davies, the response was simple: “The finest centre forward in Europe.” Ted Bates had spent a then club record £55,000 for Davies as the club prepared to face their inaugural season in the top division. Already an established Welsh international, Davies scored 12 goals in 10 consecutive League games, and ended that season having scored 37 goals in 41 games, more than any other player in the division. The club retained their place in the division. The first of his 134 League goals for Southampton was on 27 August 1966 at Bloomfield Road, as his club beat hosts Blackpool 3–2.
That quote from Busby came in August 1969 on the back of a stunning 4-1 victory for Saints over his United side, with Davies getting all four. As a result United lodged a massive £200,000 bid which was turned down by the Southampton board. A big but amiable giant, Davies was useful on the ground, but it was in the air where he inflicted most damage, although in Terry Paine and John Sydenham he was lucky to have two fine crossers of the ball.
3 TERRY PAINE
Paine began his career as a youth player with local club Winchester City, before signing professional terms with Southampton in 1956. He quickly became a regular for the team as a right-sided winger, and was also on occasion played on the left wing, in the centre of midfield, or up front. In 1960 he was a part of the squad which won the club’s only Third Division title.
There have been many spectacular goals in Southampton’s history but few more significant as Paine’s header that earned a 1-1 draw at Leyton Orient, thus elevating them to the old First Division for the first time in 1966. Paine was already an England regular, about to appear in the World Cup finals and, as a Hampshire boy, had remained loyal to Saints. He went on to win ten caps for England and to break all club records, making 811 appearances. He was a superb winger, who could land a ball on a sixpence.
2 MICK CHANNON
Channon was the backbone of the club in the 1970s. He was there for the FA Cup Final in 1976, the first European excursions and gained 48 caps for England in his golden period of 1972-77. His arm waving, windmill goal celebration was copied by every boy on Southampton’s playgrounds, and his permanent enthusiasm and straight talking wed him to fans. He was Saints’ top scorer for seven consecutive seasons and his testimonial two days after the Cup Final sparked jubilant pitch invasions as a wildly overpacked Dell continued the weekend celebrations – it was one of the special nights at The Dell. Channon was to move to Man City the following season but returned to The Dell for three more years in the top flight.
1 MATTHEW LE TISSIER
The boy from Guernsey was simply Saints’ biggest ever class act. He could have gone to Spurs but stayed, a priceless act of loyalty that undoubtedly saved the club from relegation several times over. He missed only one penalty, scored extraordinary goals and, like Channon, played for fun with a huge smile. Work-ethic managers like Branfoot missed the point: scared managers like Glenn Hoddle daren’t risk him for England, but smart managers, like Ball, told his players to fetch the ball and put it at Tiss’s feet. He was repaid many times over. He was Le God, revered by fans and the last goal at The Dell was inevitably one of his specials – twisting to volley the ball into the corner in a 3-2 defeat of Arsenal. Simply the best.