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The World Cup has thrown up a lot of surprises, but one that has left a lot of us more than just a bit shocked, is England’s exit. The Three Lions are seemingly a squad stuffed with talent, big stars, hard workers, and miracle makers. Many expected the likes of Gerrard and Rooney, remnants of England’s ‘Golden Generation’ to finally get their act together on the big stage. If we’re being honest, not many expected them to go all the way, but surely not too many expected them to get eliminated this early. Costa Rica are through, and will probably rest players against England. With all due respect to the Costa Ricans, just let that sink in, and consider your expectations prior to the World Cup.
Of course, this means that a lot of publications, blogs, and websites will launch into the post mortem analysis, the solutions for what England needs, and maybe a few excuses, and of course, blaming the amount of foreigners in the Premier League (here’s looking at you Greg Dyke). All for positivity, and to make you feel a little good about England, and of course, reflect on some glory days of legends, your favourite players, and the men you grew up idolising.
The following team created at ClubMed consists of the greatest 11 players that have represented England from 1950 to 2014, at least in the opinion of the writer. You will of course, excuse the fact that the writer wasn’t born as far back as 1950, and so some of my picks may be biased to those who have played more recently. However, this is a team that is possibly capable of doing some damage to teams, even today. Playing at their best, they might even lift a(nother?) major trophy. However, here it goes. They will play in a 4-3-3 formation.
Gordon Banks: Of course, this save has a lot to do with this selection, but one cannot discount the rest of his career. The great man, currently 76 years old, is a World Cup winner of course, having lifted the trophy way back in 1966 as England won it on home soil. Aside from that as well, Banks went on to win the FIFA Goalkeeper of the year award 6 years in a row, from 1966, to 1971. He won 73 caps for his nation before a car accident cost him part of his eyesight, and ended his career. Banks was eventually named the second best goalkeeper of the 20th century, just behind Lev Yashin. Peter Shilton also came close, but ‘Banksy’ has to take this place. A solid keeper like him can make a huge difference.
Gary Neville: For those who aren’t old enough to remember (but are somehow reading this), before G Nev was tearing up the tactics boards in the Sky studios, he was a hugely accomplished right back in one of the most successful teams in all of Europe. The Manchester United man has a whole list of honours to his name, including 2 UEFA Champions League titles, 8 Premier League’s, 3 FA Cups, and 2 League Cups. To top it off, United fans love him even more for celebrating a late goal right in front of Liverpool fans.
Bobby Moore: The obvious choice at centre back, Bobby Moore is the only English captain to have ever lifted a World Cup trophy, and one of the greatest defenders ever. When the great man hung up his boots in 1973, he held the record for the most caps for an Englishman, with 108. The record was only broken in 2009 when Beckham reached 109. Even Pele acknowledged him as the toughest defender he had ever played against in his career.
Norman Hunter: Any Leeds supporter reading this, and old enough, is probably very pleased right now. Hunter formed a very strong partnership at the back along with Jack Charlton, another one who was strongly considered for this position. Hunter was the rock on which Leeds built a very strong team that dominated English football for a long time. Norman ‘Bites yer legs’ Hunter was famous for his tackling, and was also the first ever PFA Player’s Player of the Year. He even played a European Cup final for Leeds, as they lost to Bayern Munich under very controversial circumstances in 1975.
Ashley Cole: Left back this time by Roy Hodgson, many England fans must have missed the old solidity that the likes of Neville and Cole provided as the likes of Cavani and Candreva were allowed to put in crosses for Suarez and Balotelli respectively to score important goals against England. This selection is a bit biased, but despite that, there cant be too many complaints about this man. 3 League titles, 1 Champions League, 7 FA Cups, and a League Cup make him one of the most decorated footballers on the planet. Add the fact that he specialises in goal line clearances to the mix, and A. Cole is virtually undroppable.
Sir Bobby Charlton: Sir Bobby is not only a World Cup winner, member of the Holy Trinity, survivor of the Munich Air Disaster, Knight, and multiple title winner, he is unquestionably England’s greatest ever midfielder. The leader of a generation of Manchester United that is forever cherished by all fans, Sir Bobby was one of the best players at the 1966 World Cup, and won the Ballon D’or later that year. Sir Bobby is currently a director at Manchester United, and has served the club in such a capacity since 1984, helping to oversee an era of success under Sir Alex Ferguson.
PaulGascoigne:It would be fair to say that Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne was pretty passionate about his football. THe man who gave us, what many consider to be one of the greatest moments in football history is a player who has to feature in this team. Gazza was one of the most talented players of his generation, and his displays during the World Cup in 1990 won a lot of hearts. Having a midfielder with his drive, skill, talent, and passion can only be good for the team. And just as an extra, his style and fiery nature can only add to the spice in any game.
Bryan Robson: ‘Captain Marvel’, as he’s popularly known, was the dynamo who drove England’s midfield in the 1980’s. This Manchester United legend- he was voted as the greatest ever Manchester United player by ex-Manchester United players after the club won it’s 19th League title- was one of the most influential midfielders of his generation. Boasting an incredible work rate, good tackling, and a more than decent goal scoring record, Robson is a part of this team for abilities as a leader. He has also scored one of the fastest goals in World Cup history, against Platini’s France in 1982.
Sir Stanley Matthews: The second Sir in this team, Sir Stanley is rightly regarded as one of the greatest players in the English game. He was the first ever winner of the European Footballer of the Year award, and represented England at the 1950, and 1954 World Cups. The man was incredibly fit, and carried on playing despite reaching a very old age. He is the only footballer to have been playing while he was knighted, and played his last competitive game at the age of 70. A master dribbler, Matthews was a man who put bums on seats, something that wasn’t always a given in the pre and post War days.
Tom Finney: Tom Finney is a player who is loved in England almost universally. The man who was asked to claim income tax relief for his 10 dependents at Preston North End spent his entire career at his local club. He represented his club loyally for many years, helping to an FA Cup final appearance as well. The ‘Preston Pulmber’ is a representative of a different era of football, and one who was respected across the world. The likes of Bill Shankly didn’t wax lyrical about him without any reason.
Gary Lineker: Surely, even today, there is a patch of green around his seat in the BBC studio.The man seemed to always find a little bit of space for himself to work his magic. Winner of the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup, Lineker was the hit man that led England to the quarter final of that tournament. 4 years later at Italia 90, Lineker got a few more, including the equaliser against Germany in the semi. He even has an El Clasico hat trick on his CV! Probably the greatest England striker, despite not having the natural attributes of some of the others.