Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
North East England, NorthWest England.
Black English players
United Kingdom 1970
United Kingdom 1982
The British invented the sport. So England dominated the sport in the early years, but it did not participate in the World Cup until the 1950 Finals. They finally won the World Cup in 1966 as the host. Their best performance since 1966 was a semifinal appearance in 1990. As for the European Championship, the Three Lions reached the semifinal of Euro 1996 at home. They are generally considered as the unluckiest national team in the world. They went out of the WC Finals in 1990, 1998, and 2006, and out of the European Championship in 1996, 2004 and 2012 through penalty shootouts. They were eliminated by a Maradona's hand ball in 1986. They also went undefeated at the World Cup Finals in 1982, but eliminated through drawing with Spain in the 2nd round group match.
This is my all-time team for England. If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.
GK: Peter Shilton
Peter Shilton is considered one of the greatest keepers ever. He is England's all-time cap record-holder with 125. He earned his first cap in 1970 and his last 20 years later in 1990. He took England to 4th place in the 1990 World Cup. He played for 11 different clubs in his career, all in England. He won two straight European Cups in 1979 and 1980 with Nottingham Forrest. He was PFA Players' Player of the Year: 1977–78, an award rarely won by a goalkeeper.
Gordon Banks was named FWA Footballer of the Year in 1972, and was named FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year on six occasions. He won the World Cup in 1966. He also made one of the game's great saves to prevent a Pelé goal in the 1970 World Cup. Along with Lev Yashin, he is considered the greatest keepers of his generation. The prime of his club career was spent with Leicester and Stoke City.
GK: Ray Clemence
Clemence was considered one of England's greatest keepers. He won 3 European Cups and 2 UEFA Cups in the 1970's with Liverpool and a UEFA Cup with Tottenham Hotspurs. He was voted as Liverpool's greatest keeper. For the national team, he was locked in a battle of number 1 with Peter Shilton. He made 61 appearances for England.
RB: Jimmy Armfield
Jimmy Armfield is considered to be Blackpool's greatest player. He captained England for 15 times. He was voted "the best right-back in the world" after the 1962 World Cup in Chile. He also represented the England national team 43 times between 1959 and 1966, and captained them in 15 games. He was a member of England's 1966 World Cup team, but an injury prevented him from playing any of the games at the Finals.
Phil Neal was the great right back from Liverpool between 1974 and 1985. He was one of England's most decorated player, winning 4 First Divisions, 4 League Cups, 5 FA Charity Shields, 4 European Cups, 1 UEFA Cup and 1 UEFA Super Cups. He also played for Northampton Town and Bolton Wanderers as a full back. Neal also had a long career with England winning 50 caps and playing in the 1982 World Cup and the 1980 European Championship.
CB: Bobby Moore
Bobby Moore was the captain of the 1966 World Cup winning team. He was regarded one of the greatest defenders of all time and a perfect gentleman. He won a total of 108 caps for the England team, which at the time of his international retirement in 1973 was a national record. For his club career, he played mainly for West Ham, but he also played for Fulham and had a stint in the NASL. He won a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with West Ham.
CB: Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand became the youngest defender to play for the Three Lions at the time in 1997. He played 81 times for England between 1997 and 2011, and was a member of three World Cup squads. At one point, he was the most expensive British footballer and also broke the world's record transfer fees for a defender twice. He won the Champions' League with Manchester United in 2008. He also played for Leeds United and West Ham.
CB: Sol Campbell
Sol Campbell was a member of Arsenal's "Invincibles" that went undefeated in 2003-2004 season. He spent 9 seasons for Tottenham Hotspurs and served as its captain before moving to its rival Arsenal on a free transfer that sparked a controversy. He later played for Portsmouth. For England, he earned 73 caps in 11 years. He went to three World Cup Finals: 1998, 2002 and 2006.
CB: Billy Wright
Billy Wright is the first football player in the world to earn 100 caps(105 total). He also made a total of 105 appearances for England, captaining them a record 90 times, including during their campaigns at the 1950, 1954 and 1958 World Cup finals. He was one of England's finest center-backs. He spent his whole career at Wolverhampton Wanderers from 1939 to 1959. He won the FA Cup in 1949. He was the winner of FWA Footballer of the Year in 1952 and Ballon d'Or Runners Up in 1957.
Hapgood captained both Arsenal and England during the 1930s. He was one of first star players in England. His image was used for advertisement which was a pioneer at his time. He started his Arsenal career in 1927 and ended in 1944. Internationally, he had 30 caps with 21 times as its captain. He captained England during the famous "the Battle of Highbury" against World Cup winner Italy in 1934.
LB: Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole was considered one of the finest leftbacks of his generation. He was voted the England Player of the Year in 2010. He played in 3 World Cup Finals. He played 107 caps between 2001 and 2014. He is also England's most-capped full-back in history. He played with Arsenal, but moved to its rival Chelsea in 2006. In 2014, he moved to AS Roma. He won the Champions' League in 2012 with Chelsea. He is playing in the MLS since 2016.
Duncan Edwards was one of the Busby Babes of Manchester United. He made his professional debut at the age of 16. He was the youngest player to play in the Football League First Division. He died in 1958 during the Munich Air Disaster at the age of 21. Many people considered him to be England's greatest player. He was a dominating central midfielder of his time. For the English national team, he was capped 18 times between 1955 and 1957, scoring 5 goals.
Bryan Robson was at one point the most expensive British player when he joined Manchester United. He is considered to be one of England's best ever box-to-box midfielders. He earned 90 caps for England. He went to three World Cup Finals, but he only played a major role in 1982. He was injured in both 1986 and 1990. He spent 13 years with Manchester United.
CM: Steve Gerrard
Steve Gerrard represented his country at the 2000, 2004 and 2012 UEFA European Football Championships, as well as the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups – captaining the team at the latter two tournaments. He led Liverpool in winning the Champions' League in 2005. He is the third highest cap holder for the Three Lions. He won the PFA Players' Player of the Year in 2006 and the FWA Footballer of the Year in 2009. At the end of his career, he played in the MLS for LA Galaxy.
AM/CM: Paul Scholas
Scholas was a member of Manchester United's Class of 1992. He spent 20 years with Manchester United's first team. He won 11 Premier League, three FA Cup and two UEFA Champions League winners medals. He earned 66 caps for England before he retired from the Three Lions in 2004. His cap total was limited because of playing the same generation with Frank Lampard and Steve Gerrard.
LW: Cliff Bastin
Cliff Bastin was one of the best player on the Arsenal team that dominated football in the 1930's. Arsenal won 5 league titles in the decade. He was the Arsenal all-time leading scorer from 1939 to 1997. He also played for Exeter City, where he started his career in 1928. At the international level, Bastin played 21 times for England national team.
RW: Stanley Matthews
Stanley Matthews is the only player to have been knighted while still playing, as well as being the first winner of both the European Footballer of the Year and the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year awards. Sir Matthews is widely considered the greatest English player of all-time. Between 1937 and 1957 he won 54 caps for England, playing in the World Cup in 1950 and 1954, and winning nine British Home Championship titles. He played with Stoke and Blackpool.
Finney was knighted in 1998. He was widely considered one of the greatest winger in history. He was the FWA Footballer of the Year twice: 1954, 1957. He played his entire career with Preston North End, but his debut with them was delayed until 1946 because of the War. He won 76 caps and score 30 goals in an England career that spanned 13 years. He appeared in three World Cup Finals.
AM: Bobby Charlton
Sir Bobby was considered one of the greatest midfielders of all-time. He was capped 106 times by England and led England to World Cup victory in 1966. He is also England's all-time leading scorer and all-time cap leader at the time of his retirement. He was selected for four World Cups (1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970). For club career, he almost played his entire career with Manchester United. He was the hero of Manchester United's the first ever European Cup trophy in 1968. He won the Ballon D'Or in 1966.
ST/SS: Kevin Keegan
Kevin Keegan was two-time European Footballer of the Year in 1978 and 1979. He won the European Cup in 1977 with Liverpool. He also found successes in the Bundesliga with Hamburger SV. He later played for Southampton and Newcastle United. He had 63 caps for England. However, his World Cup appearance was limited to 20 minutes against Spain at the World Cup Finals in 1982.
Jimmy Greaves was the top scorer in the English league for 6 seasons. He won the FA Cup in 1962 and 1967, and the UEFA Cup in 1963. He started with Chelsea, but alo played with AC Milan and spent 9 seasons with Tottenham Hotspurs. He was a member of the World Cup winning team in 1966. However, he lost his starting position after suffering an injury against France.
ST: Dixie Dean
Dean was a star player in the pre-War era, Dean played the majority of his career at Everton before injuries caught up with him and he moved on to new challenges at Notts County. He is best known for his exploits during the 1927–28 season, which saw him score a record 60 league goals. He scored 379 goals in 438 games, 28 goals in FA Cup matches. He also scored 18 goals in only 16 caps for the national team.
ST: Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker was one of England's best goal poachers. He scored 48 goals for England(second overall) and won the Golden Boot with 6 goals at Mexico 1986. He also played in the 1990 World Cup Finals. He was the PFA Players' Player of the Year in 1985–86 and FWA Footballer of the Year in 1985–86 and 1991–92. In England, he played with Leicester Town, Everton and Tottenham Hotspurs. He also played for Barcelona FC in Spain.
Frank Swift, David Seaman, Stuart Pearce, Ray Wilson, Neil Franklin, Emlyn Hughes, John Terry, Tony Adams, Terry Butcher, Roy McFarland, Jimmy Haynes, David Beckham, John Barnes, Glen Hoddle, Paul Gascoigne, Frank Lampard, Martin Peters, Alan Ball, Trevor Brooking, Colin Bell, Tommy Lawton, Nat Lofthouse, Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer, Vivian Woodward, Viv Anderson, John Barnes, Bob Crompton, Stephem Bloomer, Roger Hunt, Geoff Hurst, David Jack, Wilf Mannion, Stan Mortensen, Johnny Haynes, Raich Carter.
-- Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Stanley Matthews, Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton are automatic selection. No explanation is needed.
-- For most blog teams, I awarded players for the achievements of a specific tournament. For example, Brazil featured many players from their World Cup winning teams. England, however, has a longer history than any national team. I somewhat looked into the 1966 World Cup, but I did not really look into any other specific tournaments. I have limited consideration for Euro 1996, the WC Finals in 1990 and 2018 when England reached the semifinal. Instead, I focused on the players individually.
-- The 1966 World Cup victory was England's greatest achievement. Gordan Banks, Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore are from that team. Jimmy Armfield and Jimmy Greaves are also on the team, but their selections are not based upon of the World Cup Finals.
-- Harry Kane made honourable mention after his performance at the World Cup Finals in 2018. Peter Shilton and Gary Lineker are on the 1990 World Cup team, but I was not focusing on that tournament.
-- The 3rd goalkeeper was between Frank Swift and Ray Clemence.
--England has many all-timers before the War, but they are under represented here. Sir Stanley and Dixie Dean are my only selections. For example, Vivian Woodward, Raich Carter, David Jack, Wilf Mannion, Stan Mortensen, etc are all big names,
-- Ashley Cole beat out Stuart Pearce for the backup left back.
-- The center-back positions were the most difficult decision. While Moore and Wright were locked starters, I had to choose between Neil Franklin, Emlyn Hughes, Sol Campbell, Tony Adams, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Terry Butcher. I took Campbell because I needed his size and strength. Rio Ferdinand was chosen because he was probably one of the best defenders of his generation. Neil Franklin would have been on the team, but I felt that his career was cut short by his adventure in Colombia and his injuries after Colombia. Roy McFarland is not named among this group, largely because of missing the World Cup Finals. His name is getting to be forgotten. He still received an honourable mention, but not insidious consideration for the team.
-- Steve Gerrard won a Champions' League with Liverpool in addition of what he did what England. In general, he was rated on the same level as Frank Lampard, but I took Gerrard over Lampard here.
-- Paul Scholas was the biggest surprise. Jimmy Haynes and David Beckham were more famous than Paul Scholas. Frank Lampard normally started head of him for England. I took Scholas because he offered something different with his playing style. England seldom produced an advanced playmaker with such good passing ranges. I already have Gerrard, Robson and Edwards so I do not need Frank Lampard and Colin Bell.
-- Bastian was selected because I need a left wing. No backup right wing was chosen because Finney could play on both sides. If Matthews got injured, Finney could move to the right. John Barnes did not do enough wearing an English shirt. So he missed out.
-- David Beckham missed out because of Sir Stanley and
-- Apart from Jimmy Greaves and Dixie Dean, all the options on strikers were on similar level. I took Lineker because he was a natural goal poacher. Kevin Keegan was probably the best forward of his era. He was European Player of the Year twice. Tommy Lawton, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer were considered.
-- Paul Gascoigne has the talents to be England's greatest ever, but injuries and other issues prevented him from doing so.
-- Wayne Rooney is the most underrated striker in England's history. His hype as a youngster while playing for Everton might create a false expectation. He is still the all-time leading scorer for England and Manchester United. At times, he carried the national team, but the media has not always been kind to him. They did not appreciate his contribution. At the same time, he made some critical mistakes while playing for England. I am referring to the red card vs Portugal in 2006 and his reaction to the fans in 2010. That led to a lot of unfair criticisms. However, I still could not find a spot for him. He is still behind Keegan, Lineker, Greaves and Deane. He is probably right after them.
The 4-4-2 formation is associated with English football. The lineup is very old. Peter Shilton is the youngest player. Bobby Charlton played in this position for Manchester United. England does not produce classic wingers liked Matthews and Finney anymore.