Best Northern Ireland Players of All Time

Northern Irish football has produced a number of talented players over the years, many of them who have played in football leagues all around the world.

Of course, selecting a greatest ever XI is always open to interpretation, but there are a few players that most fans do agree can never be left out.

Pat Jennings

Pat Jennings

For every flamboyant attacker like a George Best, every team needs someone to marshall a defence. Goalkeeper Pat Jennings was one such player. He went on to win 119 caps for his country and still holds the record as the most capped Northern Irish player.

Jennings started his career at Watford, but it was his stints at firstly, Tottenham and secondly at Arsenal in which he cemented his position as one of the finest goalkeepers of his generation.

Jennings made 472 appearances for Tottenham from 1964 - 1977 before switching to their bitter rivals Arsenal. He went on to make a further 237 appearances for the Gunners. At www.arsenal.com - Jennings is down as their 10th best player of all time, a remarkable achievement given the calibre of players Arsenal have had playing for them over the years.

He won his first international cap in 1964 at the tender cage of 19 in a match against Wales. Incidentally, George Best made his debut the same game. He played his final game at the World Cup in 1986, at the age of 41 and without any club football in the two previous years. His international career spanned an incredible 22 years.

George Best

George Best

Possibly the most famous player to come from Belfast, George Best set the football world alight in the 60's and 70's playing for Manchester United.

Best was a winger of not only tremendous skill, but also with an eye for goal. In his 470 games for United he scored 179 times, figures a striker would have been proud of! Best was known for his speed and dribbling skills, often bamboozling defenders either on his way to goal or when setting up a teammate. He helped United win a European Championship for the first time in 1968. In 1974, at age 27, Best left United, never again quite settling at another club. In fact, he moved between 16 different clubs over a 10 year period up until his retirement in 1984.

He played 37 times for Northern Island, scoring on 9 occasions. His international career spanned 13 years, from 1964 - 1977.

George Best fought a well-publicized battle against alcoholism. He eventually died from alcohol related problems in 2005, at 59 years of age.

Aaron Hughes

Aaron Hughes

A no-nonsense defender, Aaron Hughes has been capped 95 times for Northern Ireland.

After making his way through the youth teams at Newcastle, Hughes went on to make 205 appearances for the club from 1997 - 2005. He then spent time at Aston Villa where he made 54 appearances before moving onto Fulham from 2007 - 2014. Here he made 196 appearances. He has also spent time at Queens Park Rangers and Brighton and Hove Albion, his current club.

Hughes made his international debut at the age of 19 in 1998 against Slovakia. He also captained his country on numerous occasions and managed to score one international goal.

David Healy

David Healy

The most prolific marksman for Northern Ireland, David Healy has scored on 36 occasions for his country, including 13 goals during European qualifying. Healy has in fact represented Ireland from Under 15 level, scoring 13 goals as he rose through the age ranks to the national team.

He started out his career on the books of Manchester United, only making one appearance for the senior team. He spent two loans away from the club, first at Port Vale and finally Preston North End. United eventually sold him to Preston. He represented the club as a striker from 2001 - 2004 scoring 44 times in 137 appearances. In 2004 he joined Leeds United, a club he represented in 111 games, scoring 29 times. He then moved on to Fulham, Sunderland, Ipswich (loan), Doncaster Rovers (loan) and finally Bury. After failing to secure a contract in 2014, he announced his retirement from club football. In 430 club appearances, Healy had scored 99 goals.

Healy made his international debut at 20 years of age against Luxemburg in 2000. He was an immediate success, scoring two goals in his first appearance. Perhaps his most famous goal came in Northern Ireland's 1 - 0 victory over England in a World Cup qualifying match on 7 September 2005. Healy was soon at it again in a European qualifier, this time against Spain. The striker managed to bag a hat trick as Northern Ireland beat their more fancied rivals 3 - 2 on 6 September 2006. His last international appearance came in 2013 against Israel.

Steven Davis

Steven Davis

A cultured midfielder with an eye for goal, Steven Davis is an integral part of Northern Ireland's national setup where he captains the side.

Davis started out his career at Aston Villa, making 91 appearances and scoring on five occasion during the period 2004 - 2007. He moved onto Fulham for a season before transferring to Scottish club, Rangers. Davis turned out for the club on 140 occasions over a four year period, scoring an impressive 18 goals during this period. When the club went insolvent in 2012, Davis became a free agent and chose to move to Southampton where his career continued, playing over 100 games.

His first international appearance came in 2005 as Northern Ireland were defeated 1 - 0 by Canada. Davis became a regular in the side and even captained the team on a few occasions in 2006 at 21 years of age.