The Best Soccer Players from Ireland

Over 1.4K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Soccer Players from Ireland

List of the best soccer players from Ireland. List includes the top soccer (or “football”) players from Ireland, along with photos when available. This list of best Irish soccer players is ordered by popularity, so only the greatest players are at the top of the list. If you're searching for a particular famous Irish soccer player you can use the "search" box to find what you're looking for.

The list you're viewing is made up of different players like John O'Shea and Michael Robinson.

This list answers the questions, "Who are the best Irish footballers?" and "Who is the greatest Irish soccer player of all time?"

You can click on the names of these popular soccer players of Ireland in order to get more information about each one. If you're a sports lover then you can use this list of popular Irish soccer players to discover some new athletes that you might really enjoy watching.
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  • Paul McGrath
    319 votes
    • Birthplace: Ealing, London, United Kingdom
    • Nationality: Republic of Ireland, England
    Paul McGrath (born 4 December 1959) is an Irish former professional footballer, who played as a defender. Mainly a centre back, he also played as defensive midfielder. McGrath is widely considered one of the greatest ever Irish players. He spent the majority of his career at Aston Villa and Manchester United (seven seasons apiece). He also played for St Patrick's Athletic, Derby County and Sheffield United Also a long-time member of the Republic of Ireland national team, he appeared at the 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups, as well as UEFA Euro 1988, the team's first-ever international tournament.
  • Robbie Keane
    456 votes
    • Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
    • Nationality: Republic of Ireland
    Robert David Keane (born 8 July 1980) is an Irish former professional footballer who played as a forward and is the current assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland national team and Middlesbrough. He served as captain of Ireland from March 2006 until his international retirement in August 2016. Keane began his professional career at Wolverhampton Wanderers, scoring twice on his first-team debut aged 17. The following season he was the club's leading goalscorer and scored his first international goal for the Republic of Ireland. He changed club frequently between 1999 and 2002, breaking transfer fee records, but his brief spells at Inter Milan and Leeds United were unexceptional. He joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2002 and played there for seven-and-a-half years over two spells and amassed 306 appearances across all competitions, scoring 122 goals. The 2007–08 season was the most fruitful of his career as he set a career record of 23 goals in a season, including a landmark 100th competitive goal and won his first senior honour, the League Cup. Keane moved to Liverpool in July 2008 but he spent only six months at the club before returning to Tottenham, where he was made first team captain. In January 2010, he moved on loan to Scottish Premier League side Celtic for the rest of the season, and spent the second half of the following season loaned to West Ham United. He left Tottenham for LA Galaxy in 2011, and in January 2012 went to Aston Villa on a two-month loan during the Major League Soccer off-season. He departed LA Galaxy in 2016 having scored 104 goals across six seasons, before a short stint with Indian club ATK. Keane announced his retirement from professional football in November 2018. In total, he scored 126 Premier League goals for six different clubs, which ranks him as the 14th-most successful goalscorer in the history of the Premier League. Keane scored 68 goals for the Republic of Ireland national team over an 18-year international career, making him the all-time record Irish scorer. His 146 caps is also an Irish record. Keane is the joint fifth-highest European international goalscorer of all time, and the only player in the history of world football to have scored at least one international goal in 19 consecutive years. He is also the all-time top scorer in European Championship qualification matches. Keane was Ireland's top scorer at the 2002 FIFA World Cup with three goals as they reached the last 16, and also played at UEFA Euro 2012 and UEFA Euro 2016. Throughout his club and international career he was known for his goal celebration where he performed a cartwheel followed by a forward roll.
  • Liam Brady
    275 votes
    • Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland
    • Nationality: Republic of Ireland
    William Brady (born 13 February 1956) is an Irish former footballer, and assistant manager, of the Republic of Ireland national football team. Brady was a talented offensive midfielder renowned for his left foot and elegant technical skills such as his high-quality passing, vision, and close control, which made him an excellent playmaker. Despite a satisfactory work-rate and pace, he combined such with significant tenacity, an eye for goal from midfield, and accurate penalty taking as well. In addition to his footballing ability, Brady also stood out throughout his career for his professionalism. He found success both in England with Arsenal where he won an FA Cup and Italy with Juventus, winning two Serie A titles. Brady was altogether capped 72 times for the Irish national football team.Brady went on to manage two clubs - Celtic and then Brighton and Hove Albion - together with being the assistant manager of Ireland's national football team. He also held the post of Head of Youth Development at Arsenal, and is currently a frequent television pundit with RTÉ Sport.
  • Shay Given
    238 votes
    • Birthplace: Lifford, Republic of Ireland
    • Nationality: Republic of Ireland
    Séamus John James Given (born 20 April 1976) is an Irish former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. He is currently the goalkeeper coach at Derby County.Having surpassed the total of 100 caps required for membership, he is part of the FIFA Century Club. Given gained his first international cap in 1996 and played in goal during every match for his country during the 2002 FIFA World Cup campaign, helping them reach the knockout stage. He was later on the pitch in Paris when the Republic of Ireland were knocked out of the play-offs for a spot in the 2010 FIFA World Cup by France before helping his team qualify for UEFA Euro 2012. Given played at UEFA Euro 2012 and was selected in Martin O'Neill's 23-man squad for UEFA Euro 2016 but didn't appear in any of Ireland's four matches at the tournament. Given is the second most capped Republic of Ireland player (after Robbie Keane). He announced his international retirement in July 2016, having amassed 134 caps for his country and kept 52 clean sheets.Given started his career at Celtic, however he never made a first-team appearance and he was released and signed by Blackburn Rovers on a free transfer in 1994. Given was part of both the Sunderland team who won the Football League First Division title in 1995–96 and the Swindon Town team who won the Football League Second Division title that same season, while on loan from Blackburn Rovers. He was signed by Newcastle United in 1997 for a fee of £1.5 million, and it was there that he began competing to be a first-choice Premier League goalkeeper. Given was part of the teams who came runners-up in the 1998 and 1999 FA Cup campaigns, and was named in the Premier League Team of the Season for 2001–02 and 2005–06. He played in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup with Newcastle, and was involved in the club's title challenge in 2001–02. Although he submitted a transfer request during the 2000–01 campaign after losing his position in the starting line-up, it was denied, and Given went on to regain his place. On 1 February 2009, Given transferred to Manchester City for £6 million on a four-and-a-half-year contract. While Given was at Manchester City, the club qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in its history after finishing third in the Premier League, as well as winning the FA Cup, though he did not appear in the league in the campaign that City reached the Champions League, nor did he play in the FA Cup. On 18 July 2011, he joined Aston Villa for a fee believed to be around £3.5 million, signing a five-year contract. Four years later, Given joined Stoke City in July 2015.
  • Ronnie Whelan
    214 votes
    • Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland
    • Nationality: Republic of Ireland
    Ronald Andrew Whelan (; born 25 September 1961) is an Irish former soccer player who played as a midfielder and sometimes as a defender. He played an integral role in the dominant Liverpool side that won a wealth of titles in the 1980s. He was at the club from 1979 until 1994, scoring a number of vital goals. In 100 Players Who Shook The Kop, a poll of 110,000 Liverpool fans conducted by Liverpool's official website, Whelan came in 30th. Whelan finished his career at Southend United, where he was also player-manager. He has also managed in Greece and Cyprus, with Panionios, Olympiakos Nicosia and Apollon Limassol. Whelan was an important member of the Republic of Ireland national football team at one UEFA European Football Championship (1988) and also appeared at two World Cups (1990 and 1994). He played a total of 53 times for the national side between 1981 and 1995. Since retirement he has begun a media career, and is a regular contributor to RTÉ Sport in Ireland.
  • Ray Houghton
    183 votes
    • Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
    • Nationality: Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom
    Raymond James Houghton (born 9 January 1962) is a retired football player, and current analyst and commentator with RTÉ Sport. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Houghton played international football for the Republic of Ireland, for whom he qualified through his Irish father. Houghton is particularly remembered by Irish fans for scoring two of the most important goals in the national team's history, which resulted in 1–0 victories over England in Stuttgart at the 1988 European Championship, and Italy at Giants Stadium at the 1994 World Cup. At club level Houghton is best remembered for his success in the Liverpool side of the late 1980s.