Ever wondered who would be selected in a combined British and Irish XI?
A British and Irish team already exists in rugby. But what if this is concept was expanded to football across the course of history?
An attempt has been made with the condition that each nation is represented at least once. A classic British 4-4-2 formation with wingers is assumed.
In the end, this greatest ever team comprises of: 5 players from England; 2 each from Wales and the Republic of Ireland; and a single player from both Scotland and Northern Ireland. This team merges English composure with Celtic flair.
GK: Pat Jennings (Northern Ireland) : 83.42%
All-time rank: 82
Northern Ireland's most capped player (119 appearances). A world-class goalkeeper whose career spanned 23 years. Played in World Cup '86 on his 41st birthday. Represented both Tottenham and Arsenal.
The Northern Irishman's status would have been further enhanced had he played in stronger national and club sides. Selected in a position of real depth. Despite being less heralded than his rivals, he takes the Number 1 jersey on merit, and not simply to meet the national quota.
Honourable mentions: Gordon Banks, Peter Shilton, Neville Southall
DL: Stuart Pearce (England) : 81.48%
All-time rank: 157
Iconic England and Nottingham Forest left-back. Earned 78 caps scoring 5 goals for his country. A courageous player who amended his missed penalty against Germany in WC '90, to score against the same opposition in the Euro '96 semi-final.
'Pscyho' is selected ahead of his rivals for his net-bursting free-kicks and sheer bravery.
Honourable mentions: Ashley Cole, Kenny Samsom
DC: Bobby Moore (England) : 86.23%
All-time rank: 11
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.
A wonderful defender and an even better leader. The rightful captain of the greatest ever British and Irish team.
Honourable mentions: Alan Hansen
DC: Paul Mcgrath (Ireland) : 81.99%
All-time rank: 144
One of the greatest Irish players ever. He appeared in 2 World Cups ('90, '94). A tough tackling defender with a superb awareness of the game. Despite persistent problems with his knees, he played for Manchester United and Aston Villa for 7 seasons each. English Player of the Year winner in 1993.
The most controversial selection in this line-up, is dependent on the fitness and mindset of the Irishman. Concerns can be erased by watching him nullify Baggio in '94.
Honourable mentions: Tony Adams
DR: Billy Wright (England) : 83.08%
All-time rank: 96
The first player to earn 100 caps in footballing history. The England legend won 105 caps for his country, captaining them for a record 90 appearances. He played over 70 consecutive games for the national side. Captained his country in three world cups (50, 54, 58). Never cautioned during his career. He played all of his career with Wolves.
Rightfully takes the right-back spot, but faced stiff competition for the captain's armband.
Honourable mentions: Danny McGrain
ML: Ryan Giggs (Wales) : 83.32%
All-time rank: 87
The most decorated player in Premier League history. Record number of appearances for Manchester United, over a remarkable 23 year period. Most assists in Premier League history. The Welsh wing wizard would accelerate past defences during his early career, before adapting successfully to a more central role. PFA player of the year in 2008-2009. Unfortunately, he was never destined to play in a World Cup.
A fierce contest sees the Welshman earn selection based on his longevity and achievements.
Honourable mentions: Tom Finney, Gareth Bale
MC: Bobby Charlton (England) : 85.93%
All-time rank: 17
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.
Honourable mentions: Paul Scholes, Ray Houghton, Billy Bremner
DM: Roy Keane (Ireland) : 84.60%
All-time rank: 55
Considered one of the greatest defensive midfielder's of all-time. In 2004, Pele selected him in the FIFA 100 list. Noted for his sheer aggression, and 'never-say-die' attitude. Former captain of Manchester United from 1997 to 2005, during one of the most successful periods in the club's history. The tough-tackling Irishman earned 67 caps internationally. Although sent home for a transgression during the 2002 World Cup, he remains an icon at both club and country level.
Every great team needs a combatitive player, willing to push his team-mates to their very limits.
Honourable mentions: Steven Gerrard, Bryan Robson, Graeme Souness
MR: Stanley Matthews (England) : 84.84%
All-time rank: 43
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 - during his prime years. But despite this, he is still internationally heralded as one of the true greats of football.
A legend that endures to the modern day - a century after his birth.
Honourable mentions: George Best, Jimmy Johnstone, David Beckham
FW: John Charles (Wales) : 83.56%
All-time rank: 76
Acclaimed as the greatest player in Welsh history, and often considered as the most complete British player of all-time. Reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1958. A rare British success abroad in Italy, where he is still considered a legend. In Juventus he was nicknamed 'Il Gigante Buono' - the Gentle Giant, in reference to his imposing 6ft 2in physique and measured temperament. He scored 304 league goals in just 602 games. An iconic centre forward, he also mastered the art of defending to play central defence.
The Welshman's versatility and success abroad sees him edge out his contemporaries.
Honourable mentions: Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney, Denis Law
FW: Kenny Dalglish (Scotland) : 83.28%
All-time rank: 90
Most capped Scottish player in international history with 102 caps, and also their record goalscorer (30). In 2006, 'King Kenny' was voted Liverpool's greatest ever player. Decorated club career, including 3 European titles. He scored 230 goals in 559 club appearances for Celtic and Liverpool. A skilful forward with strong mental attributes.
His rivals may claim a more prolific strike-rate, but the Scot's creativity and team-ethic guarantees his selection.
Honourable mentions: Gary Lineker, Jimmy Greaves, Ian Rush
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