North Melbourne legend Wayne Carey has unveiled the 20 best players he’s seen in a column on The Age.
The dual-premiership forward predominately focused on those who played the bulk of their footy from 1987 onwards.
His criteria favoured a player’s “match-winning ability, toughness, leadership and importance to their team” and took accolades like All-Australians and best and fairests into account.
The majority of names are from the 90’s because “it was a time everyone had an opponent. There were no easy touches.”
Topping Carey’s list is Hawthorn champion Jason Dunstall – an AFL and Hawthorn Hall of Famer, four-time premiership player, three-time Coleman medallist and 12-time Hawks leading goalkicker.
“His record speaks for itself: 254 games and 1254 goals. Dunstall kicked 100 goals in a season six times, and big tons too,” Carey wrote.
“He’s the best full-forward I’ve seen and above the likes of Tony Lockett and Gary Ablett snr because he was more unselfish and team-oriented.”
Coming in at number two is Brisbane triple-premiership skipper Michael Voss. Carey praised Voss for leading from the front during the club’s dominant threepeat from 2001-2003.
“In an era in which the best midfielders would usually get tagged, he was the general in the Lions’ engine room. Leigh Matthews says Voss is the best he’s seen and there’s hardly a greater compliment.”
Carey ranked former Essendon captain James Hird as the third best player he’s seen, citing the 1996 Brownlow medallist’s match-winning ability and big-game prowess.
“Another captain on the list and one who could turn a game in minutes. It’s because of that match-winning ability that I have Hird so high on this list.”
Rounding out Carey’s top five is VFL/AFL leading goalkicker Tony ‘Plugger Lockett’ Lockett and former West Coast and Carlton star Chris Judd.
No Kangaroos players feature on Carey’s list.
The 20 best players Carey has seen
1. Jason Dunstall
2. Michael Voss
3. James Hird
4. Tony Lockett
5. Chris Judd
6. Robert Harvey
7. Greg Williams
8. Lance Franklin
9. Gary Ablett Snr
10. Nathan Buckley
11. Mark Ricciuto
12. Adam Goodes
13. Glen Jakovich
14. Andrew McLeod
15. Dustin Martin
16. Jonathan Brown
17. Stephen Silvagni
18. Matthew Richardson
19. Gary Ablett Jr
20. Paul Kelly