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The Courier Sport presents: the England best XI draft Part Three

Written by Sport, Sport Features

The draft rumbles on, take a look at who our writers picked for their fifth and sixth choices!

Round Five

Andrew White: Jimmy Armfield

Image – Geograph

Voted the best right-back in the world after the 1962 World Cup in Chile, as well as being voted best right-back in Europe each year of 1962-64. Armfield captained England in fifteen occasions. It seemed clear that Armfield would take his place at right-back in the 1966 World Cup. Injury lost him his place in the side to Fulham’s George Cohen. Injury in 1966 ensured Armfield would never play for England again. Despite not playing in the 66’ finals, Armfield was awarded for his contribution to the side with a World Cup medal in 2009. In September 2019 ,the FA announced unveiled the Jimmy Armfield Lecture Theatre at St.Georges Park in his honour. Recognition for an all-time England great.

Tom Hardwick: Stan Mortensen

Image – Geograph

Stan Mortensen may not have been the first name on many people’s lists, but the Blackpool legend made England history when he scored our first ever World Cup goal in 1950. Not only did he set the precedent for generations of strikers to come, but he also has the fourth best goals to game ratio of any England striker to win more than 20 caps, with a superb record of 25 goals in 23 international appearances. This incredible record included a 4 goal haul during a 10-0 rout of Portugal, perhaps Mortensen’s finest hour in an England shirt. The 1953 FA Cup final may be remembered as the ‘Mathews Final’, but it was Mortensen’s unerring finishing ability that earned him a hat-trick and secured Blackpool a 4-3 victory over Bolton. Mortensen’s goalscoring prowess was evident throughout his career for both club and country, and he is the perfect attacking addition to my England XI.

Tom Moorcroft: Peter Beardsley

It would seem sacrilegious to not include an ex-Newcastle lad in this line-up. Being described as the “best partner he could ever have” by Gary Lineker, this forward/midfielder represented England in two World Cups and a Euros, being capped 59 times.

Although we’re shining a light on their international appearances, he made 755 appearances for various different clubs, averaging a goal every 3 games, a fantastic ratio in the sport. Looking at his performance in an England shirt, he was a long ball maestro, and even supplied a peach of a ball against Poland in a 3-0 win. He unfortunately had front row seats in the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal, which saw England fall out the competition with a 2-1 loss against Argentina. For reasons beyond belief he was dropped after 1990, and after a brief return in 1993, ended his international career in 1996 with 9 goals to his name. He played with some greats, such as Shilton and Lineker, and deserves his seat at the table.

Rebecca Johnson: Steve McManaman

Needing someone down the wing, I opted for England’s “forgotten man” Steve McManaman.

McManaman was given his full debut by England in 1994, with his first major tournament being 1996 Euro’s. He had a solid tournament, and according to the BBC- Pele said he was the best player there, some pretty solid praise from one of the best players the world has ever seen.

His ability to take players on, make solid and accurate passes, as well as being able to thunder balls into the box earns him a spot in my team.

Colm Williams: Viv Anderson

Viv made his debut against Czechoslovakia at Wembley in 1977, becoming the first black player to represent England. This was in an age where racism was at a shameful level in the stands. He had a strong club career playing for top clubs such as Arsenal, Nottingham Forrest and Sheffield Wednesday. Viv Anderson was also Sir Alex Ferguson’s first signing at Manchester United. As one of Europe’s best right-backs in the 1970’s and 80’s, he was unlucky to only get 30 caps for the Three Lions.

Pat Harland: Owen Hargreaves

Image – Wikimedia Commons

Despite being born in Canada and starting his career in Germany, Owen Hargreaves is one of best midfielders to sport an England shirt. Winner of both the England Player of the Year and England Player of the World Cup in 2006, the first to win both awards in the same year he was a world class talent on the pitch. He wasn’t a prolific goal-scorer but a tireless defensive midfielder putting his all into every game. Perfect to link my team together.

Jack Smillie: Alf Ramsey (manager)

Seeming as no-one else had picked a manager thus far, I opted for the manager with the richest trophy cabinet. After all, any team needs sound organisation to be successful. In 1964, Sir Ramsey boldly claimed, “We will win the World Cup”. Needless to say, he did just that, before guiding England to at least fourth place in the following three major international tournaments. He successfully found a system to unlock England’s world-class talent. History will never forget Ramsey’s “wingless wonders”.

Joe Smith: John Stones

Sorry everyone, i panicked. 39 caps, 2 goals and lots on injuries. John Stones scored two goals in the 2018 world cup against Panamas dreadful side and that was last we heard from him. Putting in an alright shift as Leighton Baines replacement during that world cup and then disappearing from international football, hopefully forever.

Sesh Subramanian: Darren Anderton

An exciting winger who thrived playing on the right for England, Anderton in his prime would be on par with David Beckham – one of the best right sided midfielders England has seen. Anderton was a key component of England’s Euro 96 run under Terry Venables. Given a free license to attack, he made full use of it – helping England to a semi-final finish on home soil.

Stan Gilyead: Ray Clemence

Image – Wikimedia Commons

Three European Cups, six First Division titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup, Ray Clemence is one of the most decorated English players of all time. In his 61 games for England he was always solid between the sticks and could have walked into any side in the world in his pomp.

Toby Bryant: Joe Cole

My memory of Joe Cole at club level isn’t all too great, despite his performances for West Ham and Chelsea. In an England shirt, however, Cole was one of the players who would always perform when I was a youngster. The playmaker was a constant chance-creator and had the ability to drive the ball forward. A shoo-in in attacking-midfield.

Rory Ewart: Gary Neville

Image – Wikimedia Commons

Personally, I couldn’t believe my luck that Gary Neville hadn’t been taken already, as I was one the last to take my pick in round four. A one-club man with his national duty at his core, Neville was a formidable right full-back for England and amassed 85 England appearances over a 12-year spell.

Neville is the most capped England right-back of all time, surpassing Phil Neal’s 50 caps and adding plenty more to the tally. The fact that he had such a long-lasting career for England also means that he can boast the most appearances of any English player ever in a European Championship Finals, holding that with 11 appearances. Gary Neville will likely go down as one, if not the best, right full-back England has ever produced.

Dom Lee: Chris Waddle

England haven’t had the greatest of histories with wide players, with players who are more suitable as memes than wingers such as Aaron Lennon and Stewart Downing gracing the pitch in recent years. Chris Waddle is a standout in a bad crop but that doesn’t mean he’s a scrub. Waddle was an inventive player with a bag of tricks that could make defenders scream for their mothers. Waddle could play on either side but I’m deploying him on my left wing, where he can cut in on his stronger right foot. Those aren’t the only reasons I picked Waddle though, as he was also famed for having the finest mullet in English football. He’ll have his game at three o’clock and then be in Blanc by 5. Legend.

Round Six

Dom Lee: Paul Ince

A player with a very high opinion of himself, Paul Ince will be the anchor in my midfield. Ince was a bulldog in midfield and was an expert at breaking up play and spraying passes forward. The midfielder also had a mean shot on him and was a fixture of England’s midfield in the 90’s- a time where England had a wide array of fantastic central players to choose from. His time at Inter gave him a refined set of skills and a toughness that will be key to wins for my squad.

Image – Wikipedia

Rory Ewart: Ray Wilkins

Amassing 84 caps for the Three Lions, captaining them on ten occasions, Ray Wilkins. He played a key role in England ending their decade long drought from major championship finals, helping the national team qualify for the 1980 Euros in Italy.

Although not a prolific scorer during his carer, perhaps one of the late greats most memorable moments would have been scoring a lobbed effort in those Euros finals in 1980. The goal was made all the more memorable as he was able to first lob the entire Belgian defence, before lobbing the Belgian goalkeeper to finish off a fine individual goal. Wilkins also managed to feature in two World Cups, in the 1982 and ’86 editions of this.

Toby Bryant: Scott Parker

Image – Wikipedia

My side, attacking so far, was in desperate need of a defence-minded midfielder to anchor things down. Scott Parker provides that. Despite his international career spanning from 2003 to 2012, the midfielder only made 18 appearances for the Three Lions. Nonetheless, he’s a ball-winner and cool-head, always there when you need him.

Stan Gilyead: Nobby Stiles

My team’s looking quite attacking at the moment and having Nobby Styles clearing up in midfield is the perfect way to balance that out. Another World Cup winner, Stiles’ style of play has been compared to Roy Keane’s. His tough tackling and discipline in the centre of the park saw him neutralise the threats of countless legends of the game for both England and Manchester United. He was hard as nails, never scared to go in for a fifty fifty ball and scary on the field, terrifying the opposition with his appearance by taking his false teeth out to play. A vital part of the ’66 side, providing a strong base from which England could build their play, Stiles is rightfully considered a legend of the English game.

Sesh Subramanian: Kenny Sansom

Before Ashley Cole became England’s most capped left back, Kenny Sansom had that honour. An ever present figure in the England team during the 80s, Sansom was quick on his feet, good in the tackle and had a very good mind for the game. Playing in both the 82 and the 86 World Cups, it took Stuart Pearce’s rise as well as his own age to dislodge him off the starting eleven. Without a shadow of a doubt the best left back if you exclude Ashley off the list.

Joe Smith: Jamie Vardy

Image – Wikimedia Commons

It’s………….. Jamie Vardy! King of Leicester, one of the players responsible for them being them top side they are today. Although he hasn’t had the best international career and decided to step away from international play in 2018, Vardy still showed a lot of promise for the England side, with a few goals in the euro qualifiers he secured England a place in the competition. Unfortunately, he was only selected to play in one match in the 2018 world cup, the final group stage against Belgium.

Jack Smillie: Gareth Southgate

Image – Wikimedia Commons

The addition of true-gent Gareth creates a kind of good cop, bad cop centre half partnership. Southgate won 57 English caps, and played at the ‘96 and ‘00 Euros as well as the ‘98 World Cup. Southgate played every minute of the ‘96 campaign and laughed off his penalty miss in a Pizza Hut advert. Southgate wasn’t particularly tall for a centre back but never let this get the better of him. He was a core component, a defensive rock, from which the team could build on. Forever cool, calm and collected, Southgate’s defence only conceded 3 goals in ‘96, and 4 in ‘98.

Pat Harland: Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold, potentially the world’s rest right back at the moment. His form in a world-class Liverpool side has been sublime, a prolific goal getter and creator all from right-back with assists more akin to that of a winger. All this and only 21 years of age. His defensive game might not be as effective of that of your Gary Neville’s and Wan-Bissaka’s but what he offers in terms of moving forward and posing a threat to the opposition is just phenomenal. I’m just surprised it’s taken this long for him to be picked.

Colm Williams: Duncan Edwards

Duncan Edwards was one of the most talented players to grace the England shirt. Sadly as a result of injuries sustained in the 1958 Munich air disaster he passed before his time. With Sir Bobby Charlton saying, “His ability was complete – right foot, left foot, long passing, short passing. He did everything instinctively.” ‘Big Dunc’ was a powerhouse in midfield, although he could play in almost every outfield position. Making his debut for England at 18 years old, he went on to score five goals in 18 game. Despite horrifically dying at just 21 years old, he had already amassed over 150 caps for Manchester United. It is clear he could have gone on to be England’s greatest player of all time.

Rebecca Johnson: Jordan Henderson

Image – Wikimedia Commons

With a range of players in my team so far, I decided there was a need for a strong leader who can organise play and keep everyone together, that’s where Jordan Henderson slots in.

Another Sunderland lad in my side, Henderson is who I want sat in central midfield. Whilst Harry Kane may have the captain’s armband, it’s Henderson who’s controlling things in the middle of the park and telling everyone where to go. Though he may not be a flashy player who can score goals, he gets his job done in a no-nonsense fashion, passing out to playmakers and ensuring no goals get conceded.

Tom Moorcroft: Jermain Defoe

Defoe is like that one mate of yours that you can always rely on. Desperately need a fiver? Defoe’s got you covered. He scores goals for fun, and makes it look easy while doing it. I couldn’t think of a strike partnership that’d work better than Defoe and Rooney (except maybe Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison…). He was always a pacey player, who could do everything from a simple tap in to a show-stopping finish, with his performance against Italy in Euro 2012 a testament to his abilities.

With Spurs he surpassed 100 goals in the Premier League, which is no mean feat, and with some stand-out strike partners in Peter Crouch, Bent and Rooney, he’s learnt from some of the best in the business.

He’s scored 20 goals in his England career, and is still available for a call-up, with his current stint at Rangers. He was recently made an OBE, after his involvement in the Bradley-Lowery foundation whilst at Sunderland. With a career that’s spanned 3 different centuries, almost 300 goals, and some heartwarming actions off the pitch, Defoe embodies not only what it means to be a great athlete, but what it means to be a great person too.

Tom Hardwick: Kieran Trippier

Image – Wikimedia Commons

With Stuart Pearce offering defensive solidity down the left-hand side of my team, I decided to improve my attacking options down the right, and who better to add than Kieran Trippier. The Atletico Madrid man was in imperious form throughout the 2018 World Cup, with his expert corner eventually being nodded home at the death by Harry Kane to secure a dramatic win over Tunisia. Trippier was integral to England’s victory over Colombia, maintaining his composure to score in the shootout and give Dier the chance at glory. Of course, his finest hour was the semi-final against Croatia, scoring the sensational free kick that saw beer gardens and living rooms across the country erupt in euphoria. The dream may have died that day, and his club form may have dipped, but Trippier’s performances helped us all to believe that football really was coming home.

Andrew White: Viv Woodward

As an avid Spurs fan, seeing Hoddle, Waddle, Defoe and Greaves, amongst others being picked by others whilst I had a distinct lack of Tottenham in my team was bothering me.

Then I remembered Viv Woodward, years ago on a Tottenham history DVD I remembered a section on Tottenham wartime heroes, and it included Viv Woodward, who was a Chelsea player by the time World War I had begun. He made his debut for England in 1903 scoring twice against Ireland. He set the tone in this game for the rest of his England career. He scored 29 goals in 23 caps for England and was England’s record goal scorer until the 1950’s. His record was not defeated until 1958, meaning he held the record of England’s record goal scorer for 47 years- longer than any other player. His strike rate of 1.26 goals per game remains the all-time record for an England player.

Woodward captained England and notably, Great Britain at the 1908 and 1912 Olympics, winning a gold medal both times. Injuries sustained by Woodward during World War One meant he had to retire from football, but he certainly left a lasting mark on the England international team. Alongside Roger Hunt, my team would have a formidable strike force, supported by the likes of Moore, Armfield and Robson further back. This provides my team with the balance needed to defeat the other chosen XI’s.

A Tottenham hero and wartime hero, welcome to the team.

Last modified: 28th March 2020

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