Footballers who have received UK honours from the Queen

Ahead of the start of the Premier League 2020/21 season, we take a look at some of the former and current top-flight footballers to receive a knighthood, CBE, OBE or MBE British honour from Her Majesty The Queen.

Footballers who have received a knighthood

Footballers with British Honours - CBE, OBE, MBE, Knighthood

Currently, there are 15 football personalities who have been knighted for their services to the game (excluding honorary knighthoods). The first man thought to have received a knighthood for his services to football is Charles Clegg in June 1927 (Gazette issue 33280). Though the citation did not mention football, Clegg was a former player who became both the chairman and president of the Football Association (FA).

Stanley Matthews (Gazette issue 43529) is the only active footballer to receive a knighthood and is also regarded as the first footballer to be knighted. All members of the England squad for the 1966 World Cup winning team were awarded the MBE, while Bobby Charlton (Gazette issue 53696) and Geoff Hurst (Gazette issue 55155) have both since received knighthoods.

More recently, Kenny Dalglish received a knighthood 'For services to Football, to Charity and to the City of Liverpool' (Gazette issue 62310) in 2018, while long-time Manchester United FC manager Alex Ferguson was also knighted 'For services to Association Football' in June 1999 (Gazette issue 55513).

Active footballers with British honours

Currently, there are ten active players who have received Queen's Birthday or New Year honours and are set to play in the 2020/21 season:

While seven players on the list received honours for services to football, Jermain Defoe received an OBE 'For services to the Jermain Defoe Foundation', Marcus Rashford received an MBE in 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours "For services to Vulnerable Children in the UK during Covid-19", and Raheem Sterling was awarded an MBE "For services to Racial Equality in Sport." As well as being awarded an MBE "For services to Football", Jordan Henderson also received his honours for services "to Charity particularly during the Covid-19 Pandemic."

Notable famous former footballers with British honours

Here are some recent former footballers who received British honours:

*Alan Shearer was also appointed an OBE in 2001 (Gazette issue 56237).

Foreign football players with honorary British honours

Anybody in the UK can make a recommendation for a British national to receive an honour. However, the Foreign Office does also recommend honorary awards for foreign nationals to be approved by Her Majesty The Queen. Currently there are five non-UK footballers to receive honorary British honours:

  • Henrik Larsson MBE (honorary)
  • Pelé KBE (honorary)
  • Niall Quinn MBE (honorary)
  • Peter Schmeichel MBE (honorary)
  • Gianfranco Zola OBE (honorary)

See also

Gazette tennis greats: infographic

Find out more

Nominate someone for an honour or award (GOV.UK)

Image: Getty Images

Publication updated: 14 June 2021