“The crowd are on the pitch, they think it’s all over.”
Arguably the most spine-tingling sentence that an English football fan will ever hear, and probably one that we will never hear again, especially considering we’ve hardly had much joy since that World Cup Final, which took place 49 years ago today.
England have seen some exceptional footballers throughout the years, but something hasn’t clicked, and we’ve failed to win a trophy since. World-class talent, but nothing to show for it is the story of the national side, with drab draws and quarter-final exits the name of the game – not to mention penalty shoot-out disasters.
Keeping that in mind, here are the best English XI to take to the field since that famous 4-2 win over West Germany.
Seaman racked up 75 caps for England, and featured at both the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. He also featured at Euro ’96 and Euro 2000 too.
The 6ft5 stopper pulled off one of the greatest saves I’ve ever seen against Sheffield United’s Paul Peschisolido in an FA Cup Semi-Final, which for me, summed up what an outstanding goalkeeper Seaman really was. Peter Schmeichel even claimed it was the best save he’s ever seen, and that should be enough for anyone.
That Ronaldinho free-kick unfortunately almost signalled the end for Seaman, and when he conceded directly from a corner against Macedonia, that put the icing on the goodbye cake for the England stopper.
What ever you may think about ‘Cashley’, he was arguably the greatest left-back England will ever have. Apologies Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce. But, no-one could budge this man from the left-back spot over the years, and even in his last major tournament for England, Euro 2012, I believe he was one of England’s best performers. You don’t just fluke 107 caps.
Not to mention the fact that Cole should have been on that plane to Brazil and England suffered because of his omission. A world class player at his peak, let alone a world class English left back.
The man best known for the bandage incident, which summed up Butcher’s character and desire in an England shirt.
He required medical treatment for a cut on his head, and his constant heading of the ball broke the stitches, which were put in place during an important World Cup qualifier against Sweden.
And, with the blood covering the bandage over his forehead, it flushed down to his white England shirt, which ended up looking more like one of their red away shirts. He’s certainly someone I’d want to lead my back line.
His England career began in the early ’80’s, and last ten years. He was capped 77 times, and skippered England on the odd occasion too.
The only man to appear in tournaments for England over three different decades. Despite enjoying the party-lifestyle, Adams was a prominent figure for England, and he’s certainly a player we could do with at the heart of our defence today.
John Terry could have arguably featured here, with the defender sorely missed since his colourful private life and on the field indiscretions forced his hand with the national side. Now, looking at the lack of quality options England have, more than a couple of people have suggested recalling Terry, but the defender is unwilling to come out of international retirement.
There really isn’t anyone worth considering when this man is in the frame. The greatest right-back I’ve seen in an England shirt, by a long way. Sorry Glen.
85 caps, and rightly an ever-present between 1996 and the mid-2000’s, Neville never retired from international football, unlike the majority of modern day footballers, and was arguably the greatest right back the Premier League has ever seen – and will probably never be replaced in the England national side.
‘What if?’ was always the question held next to Gazza’s name. But, the goal against Scotland at Euro ’96 summed up this lad’s talent, which was clearly unquestionable.
Paul Ince, among many others dubbed Gazza as the best he’d ever played with, and you can see why. Still running into trouble off the field, many have compared Ravel Morrison to the former England international in terms of his talent but inability to stay out of trouble, and letting off the field demons affect his behaviour.
This man was nicknamed ‘Captain Marvel’ for his efforts in an England shirt, and with 90 caps to his name, he’s a hard one to ignore.
Arguably the most complete midfielder of his day, Robson scored 26 goals for England during an eight year international career. His managerial career has been a bit hit and miss, with some utter disasters in there, but in terms of his playing career, the midfielder was second to none.
He certainly gave the England side something different. If it wasn’t for that unbelievable free-kick in the dying moments against Greece in 2001, we probably wouldn’t have gone to the 2002 World Cup.
The man known for his excellent right-foot on the pitch, and being a celebrity off the pitch, was officially England captain for six years, before John Terry took over in 2006. Beckham is more than a footballer – he is an ambassador for the game, and it is this more than anything else that sees him make the cut and be one of the most recognisable faces of all time.
The Walkers man and Match of the Day presenter played for England? Yes! He earned 80 caps for England and scored 48 times, making him England’s second top scorer when his career finished.
He managed to score four goals in one game for England, twice. And, he’s one of the most prolific strikers that England have ever seen – not to mention one of the only Brits to succeed outside of the Premier League, enjoying a successful career with Barcelona.
When a fellow England great like Bryan Robson says you’re one of the nation’s best ever players, you’ve got to be up there.
He’s bound to become England’s all-time top scorer at some point. And, despite the criticism he may get, he’s single-handedly scored the goals to take us to major tournaments time and time again. He’ll most likely become our most-capped of all-time too. With 48 goals in 105 caps at the age of 29, he’s still got plenty of time to destroy both records.
First seen as the ideal replacement for Gary Lineker, Shearer stepped onto the international scene as Lineker exited in 1992. And, despite a sluggish start to his international career, scoring just five in 23 before Euro ’96, that soon changed.
He was voted in UEFA’s team of the tournament that time out, with his five goals making him the top scorer.
He earned 63 caps in an England shirt, captaining his country 34 times, and scoring 30 goals, which makes the forward an easy choice.