Patrick Vieira

REUTERS

Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira was voted the greatest foreign player ever in English soccer. Vieira polled 17 out of 20 possible votes from top managers and players including Bobby Robson, Claudio Ranieri, Graham Taylor and Tom Finney.

The full results form part of a new book entitled "England, Their England," a history of foreigners in English soccer. Author Nick Harris said more than 1,700 overseas-born players have been based in England. The voters were asked to name their all-time top teams of international imports, with the biggest vote-winners lining up in a final 11, six of them French. In an interview with Harris, Robson paid tribute to the impact of foreign players on the English game, but warned increases could hurt domestic players.

"They've enhanced it and they've been brilliant for us (England as a whole)," Robson said. "What we have to be careful of is that we don't bring in ordinary players — we bring in players we haven't got the likes of in this country.

"Bring in ordinary players and it's obviously denying our players the chance of progressing and we mustn't do that."