Welcome back to another daily blog, today we are going to be taking a look at England’s all time best XI based on their performances at World Cups.
Why? I hear you ask, in my long battle to avoid boredom I have been watching the 1966 World Cup final today, so that gave me the inspiration for this!
I hope you enjoy!
GOALKEEPER- Gordon Banks
“What a save! Gordon Banks” rings through my ears whenever I hear the name of the legendary England stopper. This was quite an obvious pick really, if you consider some of the mistakes made by England goalkeepers at World Cups…
Banks was between the sticks as England lifted their one and only World Cup trophy in 1966, and he played every minute of that tournament. Possibly the best save ever seen was also produced by Banks at the 1970 World Cup, when he tipped Pele’s header over the bar.
There is no doubt that he is one of the greatest goalkeepers in history, and he was named as FIFA goalkeeper of the year for six years in a row between 1966 and 1971, which backs up this point.
LEFT BACK- Ashley Cole
While I have tried to steer clear of England’s ‘golden generation’ due to the continued disappointment that they served up at major finals, I had to include Ashley Cole.
The former Chelsea and Arsenal man played 14 games at the World Cup finals in three different tournaments, only Peter Shilton has made more (Terry Butcher, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton have also all made 14).
England reached the quarter finals in 2002 and 2006, but only managed the round of 16 in 2010, and Cole played in every single game in those three tournaments, so he had a good record at the finals.
RIGHT BACK- Kieran Trippier
Gareth Southgate’s tactics for the 2018 World Cup were simple and effective, make the most of set pieces. Kieran Trippier’s excellent set piece ability was so important for this tactic, and Southgate’s faith paid dividends in Russia.
When Trippier fired in his free kick against Croatia after five minutes, he had the whole nation dreaming of just a second World Cup final. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, but Trippier was excellent in the right wing back role throughout the World Cup.
CENTRE BACK- Bobby Moore
Bobby Moore was obviously going to be taking the first centre back slot, and captains role for this XI, after all, he did captain England to their only World Cup triumph.
Moore was superb in the 1966 final as he excellently thwarted the Germans on many occasions, no one deserved to lift the trophy a loft as much as he did.
Moore’s World Cup exploits earned him plenty of plaudits, including being named in the 1994 all time FIFA World Cup team and the world team of the 20th century. Moore is the most iconic player in England history.
CENTRE BACK- Harry Maguire
This team is going to be littered with players from the three tournaments where England made it past the quarter finals (1966, 1990 and 2018). Much like Trippier, Maguire’s influence on the way England played during the 2018 finals gets him into this XI.
Maguire is excellent bringing the ball out from the back, and his physical attributes make him a threat from corners. Southgate deployed a back three (or five), which meant that Maguires lack of pace would not be exposed as he was flanked by John Stones and Kyle Walker. So Southgate put together a system that allowed Maguire to thrive, and that he did.
He dominated in the air from set pieces and was one of England’s stand out tournaments, so he is the second centre back in this XI.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD- Martin Peters
As I am writing this, Martin Peters has just given England the lead in the 1966 World Cup final, with an excellently taken goal and he makes this XI.
He is one of only two players to have scored in a World Cup final for England, and he was an important part of the team that made it to the final.
Peters was an incredibly versatile footballer, able to do any job required of him in the midfield, or any position. He is not among the most iconic players of the 1966 team, but the fact that he became Britain’s first player to be sold for £200,000 in 1970, shows that he was a wonderful player.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD- David Platt
Platt is probably the first player to make this list who started none of the games in the group stages of the tournament he is making it in for!
However, Platt’s decisive contribution for the rest of the tournament made him an important selection for this XI. His stunning winner against Belgium in the 1990 round of 16 is an historic England goal, and Platt’s incredible technique made the winning moment even sweeter.
He went on to score in the Quarter Final against Cameroon as he came into the team to replace Bryan Robson. He helped England hold onto their lead and make it to the Semi Final. England lost their Semi final against West Germany on penalties, but Platt scored his and scored in the 3rd and 4th place play off.
His performances at this World Cup kickstarted an impressive England career for the former Aston Villa man.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD- Alan Ball Jr
There were a number of contenders for the third and final central midfield spot, but I have had to go with Alan Ball, mainly because of his performance in the 1966 final.
Ball did not stop running for the whole 120 minutes, even when the other 21 players on the pitch were completely out on their feet. He was a fairly surprising pick for the squad as he was just 21 years old, but he certainly repaid Sir Alf Ramsey’s faith with a Herculean performance in the final.
While England had a plethora of phenomenally gifted players, Ball’s industry allowed those around him to flourish and without him who knows whether England would have triumphed.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD- Bobby Charlton
Bobby Charlton is the only England player to have won the World Cup golden ball (awarded to the best player at the World Cup). His performances in the 1966 World Cup also saw him win the Ballon D’or that year.
Charlton is widely regarded as being one of the best England players ever, and rightly so considering the silverware he can boast. Overall he scored 49 goals for England, leaving him second on England’s all time leading scorers list.
Charlton’s all round attacking game made him one of the most feared players of his generation, and it is only right that a player of his legendary status was able to lift the World Cup trophy.
STRIKER- Gary Lineker
Our first striker is England’s all time leading scorer at World Cup’s, with 10 goals! Gary Lineker won the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup and led the line excellently in 1990.
His innate ability to score goals made him a wonderful asset to England, and he ended up with 48 goals for the Three Lions, leaving him third in their all time scoring chart.
Lineker was a typical number nine, who didn’t offer much to his side apart from goals, but that’s all that was ever needed from him, and he was much sought after during the 80’s and 90’s.
STRIKER- Geoff Hurst
This XI simply had to include the player who scored a hat trick in a World Cup final for England. Geoff Hurst scored one in normal time and then two in extra time to lead England to their only World Cup triumph.
He actually only scored one goal in the competition before the final, but his performance at Wembley is probably the best in an England shirt.
He didn’t even make it to 50 England appearances but his overall tally of five World Cup goals shows that he liked the big occasion.
That’s all for today!
Would you have included anyone else? Maybe Paul Gascoigne or Harry Kane?
Let me know in the comments!