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The Greatest England Team of All Time?

Published on June 27, 2015

By Mark Lawes, Contributor for Soccerjury

7
1939

If this England side were ever assembled it would be unstopabble - the quintessential dream team. 

There is a clinical goalscoring threat in attack, underpinned by a composed and reassured defence. The team would employ a classic 4-4-2 formation with wingers, selecting the greatest players in England's history. 

England's greatest ever team - here it is:

GK: Gordon Banks (England) Country: 85.44%

All-time rank: 27

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World Cup winner in 1966, and one of the true greats of goalkeeping. Produced arguably the greatest save of all-time, instinctively diving low to his right to divert a Pele bullet header in 1970. A car accident sadly forced his retirement from the game early.

Banks is not just one of the great goalkeepers for England, but one of the all time greats. Faces a strong adversary in the form of Peter Shilton, who remains the most capped player in England history and played for England until he was 40. But judging at their peak, there is only one winner.

Honourable mentions: Peter Shilton


DL: Ashley Cole (England) Country: 79.33%

All-time rank: 231

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Most capped England full-back in history with 107 caps. The former Arsenal and Chelsea player is often regarded as the one of the greatest defenders of his generation.

Underrated in defence, while offering a useful outlet in attack. Owned Cristiano Ronaldo when the pair faced each other. There are fewer higher compliments for any defender.

Honourable mentions: Stuart Pearce, Kenny Sansom


DC: Bobby Moore (England) Country: 86.23%

All-time rank: 11

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The semi-mythical captain of the only World Cup winning England team. His greatness remains immortalised in a statue outside Wembley stadium. A stylish defender with an innate understanding of the game. Always cool under pressure on the pitch, and a gentleman off it. Not just an England great, but one of the greatest central defenders of all-time.

Untouchable for the first central defence starting berth. No other English central defender comes close. Captains this dream team for his World Cup triumph alone.

Honourable mentions: none


DC: Sol Campbell (England) Country: 82.33%

All-time rank: 135

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One of the few Englishman to have played in 6 major international tournaments (3 World Cups and 3 European Championships). He won 72 caps for England during his career, and was named in the team of the tournament in both World Cup 2002 and Euro 2004. A powerful defender with strong physical attributes. Moved from Tottenham to their fierce rivals Arsenal in 2001. 

Some will argue that Tony Adams and John Terry should claim the second central defence berth. Both were fine defenders and leaders, but could occasionally be exposed by their lack of pace. Campbell too was a leader, but naturally athletic while possessing a more rounded skill-set than his challengers could claim. For these reasons, Campbell edges out his closest competitors.

Honourable mentions: Tony Adams, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand


DR: Gary Neville (England) Country: 78.93%

All-time rank: 242

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England's most capped right-back with 85 appearances. A reliable defender with strong leadership qualities. Remembered for his long-time partnership with David Beckham on the right flank for club and country. An important member of England and Manchester United for more than 10 years from the mid-90's onward.

Many consider Gary Neville to be a footballing 'donkey'. It is true that he was not naturally creative. But critics would need to ignore the leadership, composure, reliability and consistency he bought to the England and Manchester United sides. Such skills are often hidden, but in big games they are as important as a defence-splitting pass or overhead kick. Since he's retired, the national team have struggled to find a worthy succcessor to replace him.

Fends off a challenge for the right-back berth from Billy Wright - but I believe the 1950's England great would have struggled in the modern era as his teams were twice torn apart by a forward-thinking Hungarian team that employed modern formations. Wright captained the national side which conceded 13 goals in just two games, including the national team's heaviest ever defeat (7-1). It's hard to envisage Gary Neville being part of any team to lose so heavily.

Honourable mentions: Billy Wright, Phil Neal


ML: Tom Finney (England) Country: 83.31%

All-time rank: 88

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The 'Preston Plumber' scored 30 times from the wing in 76 caps for England between 1946-58. A Preston legend he scored 210 times in 473 games, in a club team referred to as the 'Plumber and his 10 drips'. English Footballer of the Year during the 1953-54 and 56-57 seasons - the first player to have won the award twice. Bill Shankly once stated: "Tom Finney would have been great in any team, in any match and in any age ... even if he had been wearing an overcoat."

England's problem position is fortunately filled by a true great of English football.

Honourable mentions: John Barnes


MC: Bobby Charlton (England) Country: 85.93%

All-time rank: 17

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Legendary England and Manchester United player. An essential member of the World Cup '66 winning squad. Record goal-scorer for England (49 goals in 106 caps), famed for his long-distance shooting prowess. One of the original Busby Babes, he survived the tragic Munich air disaster in 1958. He represented United until 1973, scoring 249 goals in 759 appearances during one of their strongest eras.

Like Moore, his starting place is assured. One of the few Englishmen who could compete for a spot in the all time greatest ever international team. 

Honourable mentions: Duncan Edwards, Paul Gascoigne


MC: Steven Gerrard (England) Country: 79.73%

All-time rank: 217

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Steven Gerrard was voted the greatest player ever to have played for Liverpool in a fan-poll in 2013 ("100 players who shook the Kop"). Third highest capped player for England (114 caps). During his peak, the central midfielder combined a fantastic work-ethic, with a natural ability to defend, pass and score. During the mid-2000's, he could lay claim to being the greatest midfielder in the world. Some say he should have left Liverpool to win more silverware during his career, but his loyalty to his boyhood team speaks volumes for his character. For over a decade, he carried lacklustre Liverpool teams to silverware. No doubt he would have received more global acclaim at other clubs, but he is still often regarded as one of the greatest midfielders ever. Moved to LA Galaxy during the twilight of his career.

Some fans may cry out for either Robson, Lampard or Scholes. All three were great players in their right, but would they have had the same impact in teams filled with lesser players? Gerrard performed in any team and made them better. And as Zinedine Zidane once said "at his peak he was the best in the world". And who are we to argue with that!

Honourable mentions: Bryan Robson, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes


MR: Stanley Matthews (England) Country: 84.84%

All-time rank: 43

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The 'Wizard of Dribble' and 'The Magician' are some of the monikers adorned to Stanley Matthews. The inaugural winner of the European Player of the Year in 1956. The only player in English history to have been knighted whilst still playing. Between 1934 and 1957 he earned 54 caps for England, scoring 11 goals. The World War disrupted his career between the age of 24 to 30. A century after his birth, he is still internationally heralded as one of the true greats of football.

Matthews is selected ahead of Beckham for the right wing spot. Beckham was a very good player, who was elevated to greatness for his brand image. Matthews was a great player judged on football talent alone, and whose name name still echoes throughout the ages.

Honourable mentions: David Beckham


FW: Jimmy Greaves (England) Country: 82.54%

All-time rank: 122

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Prolific goal-scorer known for his composure and pace. Scored 44 goals in just 57 England appearances, and a member of the England World Cup winning squad. The highest goalscorer in the history of English top-flight football (357 goals). Also, Tottenham's highest ever goalscorer (268 goals), and he still remains a Chelsea icon too. He also scored a remarkable six hat-tricks for England - more than any other player in history.

Selected for his composure in front of goal, and prolific scoring record for club and country. Goals win games, and Greaves would no doubt convert the many chances this team would provide.

Honourable mentions: Kevin Keegan


FW: Gary Lineker (England) Country: 83.00%

All-time rank: 101

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England's second highest goal-scorer with 48 goals in just 80 caps - falling just one goal behind the great Bobby Charlton. A clinical striker who was famed for his goal-poaching instinct. His fantastic temperament meant he was never booked, and scored when it truly mattered. A Barcelona player for 3 years. Poster-boy of the English national side during the late 1980's, and now a respected TV presenter.

Contemporary fans will scream where is Wayne Rooney? But Lineker was a man to score in the big occasions and had a superior strike rate for his country. Lineker scored an outstanding 10 goals in just 12 world cup games. Rooney has managed to net just once in eleven appearances in football's biggest tournament, and could be considered a "flat-track bully" scoring in less meaningful games. Also, Lineker reached his 48 goals in 25 fewer appearances than the United star. Do I hear the screams abate?

Honourable mentions: Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer


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All Comments (7)

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Mark Lawes

I see this article is now advertised on Facebook.

July 21 at 11:03pm Reply | Flag

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Kal Kilby

Gerrard is a fantastic player even if you're not a Liverpool fan. care to explain yourself Mark?

July 8 at 10:28pm Reply | Flag

Click to rate: 0 Vote Up Vote Down 1

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Mark Lawes

I see the myth that is Gerrard has found his way onto the team sheet

July 3 at 7:57pm Reply | Flag

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Kal Kilby

Decent team. But no Rooney or Beckham is quite brave : )

June 29 at 11:17pm Reply | Flag

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Robbie Ackerman

Phil Neal was better. Sorry I got carried away with my last note. Good article though and I favourited it : )

June 28 at 11:40pm Reply | Flag

Click to rate: 1 Vote Up Vote Down 0

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Mark Lawes

Fair to disagree. But who do you think is better?

June 27 at 4:58pm Reply | Flag

Click to rate: 1 Vote Up Vote Down 0

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Robbie Ackerman

Agree in most of the selections (including no Rooney or Beckham). But Neville...??? Lost credibility when I saw his name in the line-up.

June 27 at 3:27pm Reply | Flag

Click to rate: 0 Vote Up Vote Down 2

User's photo
Robbie Ackerman

Phil Neal was better. Sorry I got carried away with my last note. Good article though and I favourited it : )

June 28 at 11:40pm Reply | Flag

Click to rate: 1 Vote Up Vote Down 0

User's photo
Mark Lawes

Fair to disagree. But who do you think is better?

June 27 at 4:58pm Reply | Flag

Click to rate: 1 Vote Up Vote Down 0

User's photo
Robbie Ackerman

Agree in most of the selections (including no Rooney or Beckham). But Neville...??? Lost credibility when I saw his name in the line-up.

June 27 at 3:27pm Reply | Flag

Click to rate: 0 Vote Up Vote Down 2

User's photo
Kal Kilby

Gerrard is a fantastic player even if you're not a Liverpool fan. care to explain yourself Mark?

July 8 at 10:28pm Reply | Flag

Click to rate: 0 Vote Up Vote Down 1

User's photo
Mark Lawes

I see the myth that is Gerrard has found his way onto the team sheet

July 3 at 7:57pm Reply | Flag

Click to rate: 0 Vote Up Vote Down 1

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