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Greatest Stoke City Players Ever – Top 10 Legends

6. Alan Hudson

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After a fallout with the Chelsea manager Dave Sexton, Alan Hudson left the club to join Tony Waddington’s Stoke City in 1974. Without him, Chelsea struggled, while with him Stoke City flourished.

In his entire career, Tony Waddington was perhaps the one man who most appreciated the skills and talents of Alan Hudson and so it is no coincidence that Hudson played some fantastic football during his two-year spell at Stoke’s old Victoria Ground.

The 1974-75 season saw perhaps Stoke’s best ever side come to within four points of taking the league title before finally having to settle for a fifth-place finish. Once again, instrumental in this push for silverware was Alan Hudson.

Then came one of the weirdest transfers of all time. In the winter of 1976, an almighty storm hit Stoke City’s ground and the main grandstand was badly damaged. For reasons lost in the mists of time, the insurance cover the club arranged had either lapsed or was not sufficient to pay for the repairs.

This meant money had to be raised in another way. The decision was thus taken to cash in on the transfer value of Alan Hudson to the tune of £200,000 and so he was sold to Arsenal. One of the greatest Stoke City players ever was now gone.

He re-joined Stoke City for £22,500 in January 1984 after Bill Asprey had consulted Waddington on how to help Stoke avoid relegation in 1983–84. Stoke picked up 33 points in 17 games and clinched survival with a 4–0 won over Wolverhampton Wanderers on the final day of the season. But in 1984–85 Stoke were relegated with a record low points tally. Hudson was named captain by Mick Mills for the 1985–86 season but a knee injury forced him to retire in September 1985.

5. Jimmy Greenhoff

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Jimmy Greenhoff was in many ways the sheer epitome of the archetypal old fashioned centre forward who would always be at the exact right place at the exact right time. In a highly rewarding goal plundering career, Greenhoff played for a number of clubs, including Leeds United, Birmingham City, Stoke City, and Manchester United, before he decided to hang up his boots for good in 1984.

He was brought to Stoke City by their manager Tony Waddington in August 1969. While at Victoria Ground, the frontman became an important part of the legendary Stoke team which won the Football League Cup Final after overcoming Chelsea by a narrow 2-1 score at Wembley Stadium on the 4th of March 1972.

Several decent seasons would follow, but Waddington´s Victoria Ground side always seemed to lack the consistency required to bring home the First Division Championship title to Staffordshire.

In November 1976, Jimmy Greenhoff would make an unexpectedly £120,000 transfer move to Manchester United after hitting 76 goals in 274 First Division matches for Stoke City during a seven-year stay at Victoria Ground.

4. Neil Franklin

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Neil Franklin was arguably the finest centre-half the England football team ever had. After losing his early prime to the Second World War, he became an automatic choice for his club and country. He was globally regarded as being one of the finest defenders to play the game.

The former centre-half received such acclaim from a number of greats including Sir Tom Finney, Billy Wright and Stoke City icon, Sir Stanley Matthews.  A kingpin in defence for Stoke City and England, he set a then-record of 27 consecutive caps for the Three Lions and had the footballing world at his feet.

However, Franklin sent shockwaves through the British game when he left Britain for Bogota in 1950, just months before England were set to make their World Cup debut in Brazil.

Whilst the national team proceeded to be humiliated by the United States in South America, trying out ten inferior centre-halves over the next four years and suffering two devastating defeats at the hands of the Hungarians, Franklin also failed to make an impact in Colombia.

In less than two months he was back home in the Potteries, chastened, largely ostracised and destined for virtual oblivion for the rest of his time as a player. It was a move that affected what should have been a more distinguished career for Franklin.

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