Thursday, August 13, 2015

United Kingdom Greatest All-time team

This blogger Artur Yanturin of Russia copied many of my blog teams.  This blog was one of them.  It was my Russia All-Time Team here.  His team was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.   His Spartak Moscow All-Time team entry of was published in October 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2017.  His entry of the Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.

His Facebook and Instagram

Great Britain in 2012

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

The absence of a specific United Kingdom (UK) team in FIFA competitions is due to the unique nature of football governance within the UK. FIFA recognises the four individual constituent countries of the UK as separate footballing nations: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The individual nations of the UK have a long history of independent footballing traditions. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have their own football governing bodies. As a result, these nations compete independently in international football competitions, such as the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship. However, in certain events like the Olympic Games, a combined Great Britain team, which includes players from across the UK, is formed.

The United Kingdom completed as the Great Britain at the early Olympics.  Then, in 2012, the team was reborn again when the Olympics were hosted at home in London.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament. I have also created  Ireland/Northern Ireland combined team.  This all-time team from the United Kingdom consists of players from the Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  Players from the Republic of Ireland are not considered to be from the United Kingdom.

Please look at my all-time teams for England, Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland.  I have also created an all-time Ireland/Northern Ireland combined team  
Great Britain 1908 Olympic Gold Medalist

GK: Peter Shilton (England)
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.
Peter Shilton
GK: Gordon Banks (England)
Gordon Banks was named FWA Footballer of the Year in 1972, and was named FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year on six occasions. He was the starting goalkeeper for England's the World Cup winning team in 1966.  He 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: Pat Jennings (N.Ireland)
Considered among the greatest goalkeeper of all-time.  The prime of his career was spent with both Tottenham Hotspurs and Arsenal.  In 1973 the Football Writers' Association named him as its footballer of the year. Three years later he won PFA's version of the award – he was the first goalkeeper to receive this accolade, and to this date remains only one of two, along with Peter Shilton. He earned 119 caps for Northern Ireland and went to two WC Finals. 

RB: Jimmy Armfield (England)
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 WC 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.

RB: Danny McGrain (Scotland)
McGrain was an All-time great for Celtics. With Celtic, he won seven League Championships, five Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups. He spent his final season of his career with Hamilton Accies, where he helped win them promotion to the premier league. He played in the 1974 and 1982 World Cups for Scotland, captaining the side in their opening match against New Zealand at the 1982 World Cup.

CB/ST: John Charles (Wales)
Charles was the greatest Welsh player.  He was equally adept at centre-forward or centre-back.  His best part of career was with Juventus. He was Serie A's top scorer with 28 goals, and was voted player of the season as Juventus won the Scudetto. He played in Turin for five years, scoring 93 goals in 155 matches, winning the scudetto (Italian league championship) three times, and the Italian Cup twice. He was 3rd in the Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) in 1959. He was never booked in his entire career.
John Charles
SW: Alan Hansen (Scotland)
Among the greatest defender ever from United Kingdom, he won three European Cups and 8 English league titles with Liverpool in the 1970's and 1980's. Hansen only won 26 Scotland caps. The reason given for his lack of caps by Scotland coaches of the 1980s was that a formidable central defensive partnership had formed between Willie Miller and Alex McLeish at Aberdeen.  He played in the 1982 WC Finals, but he left off controversially the WC in 1986. 

CB: Billy Wright (England)
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.

CB: Bobby Moore  (England)
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 gentleman of the game.  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. 
Bobby Moore

LB: Eddie Hapgood (England)
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 (England)
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 is also England's most-capped full-back in history.  He played with Arsenal, but moved to its rival Chelsea.  He won the Champions' League in 2012 with Chelsea.  He also played for Roma and LA Galaxy.

CM/DM/LB: Dave MacKay (Scotland)
Known for his toughness and passing abilities. He won the Double with Tottenham Hotspurs in 1961 and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1963.  He was selected as one of the Football Heros stamp series to celebrate the 150 years of English FA. He also represented Scotland 22 times, and was selected for their 1958 World Cup squad. He tied with Tony Book of Manchester City for the Football Writers' Association's Footballer of the Year award in 1969.

CM: Graeme Souness (Scotland)
Graeme Sounds played for Tottenham Hotspur, Middlesbrough and Sampdoria, but his greatest achievement came while he played for Liverpool. He was one of the greatest ever Liverpool players.  He won three European Cups with them, captaining the team in the early 1980's.  He was also the Player-Manager for Rangers. He also earned 54 caps for Scotland. He attended three World Cup Finals: 1978, 1982 and 1986.
Graeme Souness
CM/AM:  Danny Blanchflower (Northern Ireland)
Danny Blanchflower is considered one of Northern Ireland's greatest footballers.  He won the Double in 1961 with Tottenham Hotspurs.  He won the FA Cup the following year, and then, a Cup Winners' Cup in 1963.  He was the PWA Player of the Year in 1958 and 1961. He also played for Aston Villa and Barnsley before joining Hotspurs. He went to the World Cup in 1958, where Northern  Ireland reached the quarterfinal.

CM: Duncan Edwards (England)
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.

LW/RW: George Best (N.Ireland)
George Best was considered to be one of the greatest players ever played the game.  He was voted #19 as the greatest European player by the UEFA Jublilee Poll. He was known for his "pop star" lifestyle. He was one of the "United's Trinity" that helped Manchester United to their first (and also first ever for an English club) European Cup in 1968.  He won the PWA PLayer of the Year award and the Ballon d'Or that year.
George Best
RW: Stanley Matthews (England)
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.

LW: Ryan Giggs (Wales)
Giggs was Sir Alex's longest serving player at Manchester United, where he played from 1990 to 2014.  He also holds the club record for competitive appearances. With the United, he won 13 Premier League winner's medals, 4 FA Cup winner's medals, 3 League Cup winner's medals and 2 Champions League winner's medals. He is widely considered one of the greatest British wingers in modern history. He played 64 times for Wales.  He led Great Britain at the London Olypmpics in 2012.
Ryan Giggs 
AM: Bobby Charlton (England)
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 from 1958 to 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.

AM: Alex James (Scotland)
James was one of the greatest player ever for Arsenal.  He is most noted as the play making lynch pin with Arsenal with whom he won six senior trophies in the first seven seasons of the 1930s. he also played for Preston Northend. For Scotland, he was known with his partnership with Hughie Gallacher. He was a member of "Wembley Wizards" that England 5-1 in 1928. However, he was only capped 8 times. 

ST: Kenny Dalglish (Scotland)
"King Kenny" was the greatest player for Liverppol in an era where Liverpool was considered to be among the greatest club sides in history.  He won 3 European Cups with them. He is the cap record holder and their top ever scorer for Scotland. He won the Ballon d'Or Silver Award in 1983, the PFA Player of the Year in 1983, and the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1979 and 1983. In 2009 FourFourTwo named Dalglish as the greatest striker in post-war British football.
Kenny Dalglish
ST/SS: Jimmy Greaves (England)
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 also 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 and did not play latter stage of the Finals.

ST: Ian Rush (Wales)
Ian Rush was voted as the third greatest Liverpool player by fans in 2013. He is the Liverpool's all-time leading goalscorer, with 346 goals. He won both the PFA Player of the year and FWA Player of the Year in 1984.  he was European Golden Boot winner in the same year.  He also had short spells with Chester City, Juventus, Leeds United, Newcastle United, Sheffield United, Wrexham and Sydney Olympic. Rush made 73 appearances for Wales between 1980 and 1996.
Ian Rush
Honorable Mention
Ray Clemence (England), Frank Swift (England), Sol Campbell (England), Bryan Robson (England), Tom Finney (England), Denis Law (Scotland), Kevin Keegan (England), Dixie Dean (England), Neville Southall (Wales), Hughie Gallacher (Scotland), Billy Brenmen (Scotland), Jimmy Johnstone (Scotland), Gary Lineker (England), Wayne Rooney (England).

Squad Explanation
-- The Republic of Ireland is not a part of United Kingdom while Northern Ireland is a part of this nation.
-- The United Kingdom did participate in the Olympics.  I did not really study those Olympic teams.  Vivian Woodward won Gold Medals in 1908 and 1912 Olympics.  Ronnie Simpson was on the 1948 team.  Ryan Giggs did attend the 2012 Olympics. He was the only player on this team to have represent the UK in football.
-- In order to ensure a balanced distribution of talent throughout the team, my efforts were focused on carefully examining the all-time teams I had compiled for each nation. I placed particular emphasis on selecting the starting lineup from these teams. However, due to the limited pool of players available, consisting of only 44 individuals for a final squad of 23, the task at hand was challenging. Consequently, I found it unnecessary to provide extensive details in this section, given the constraints and the need for concise decision-making within the given parameters.
--The selection process commenced by carefully handpicking the finest players from each respective nation. From England, the notable choices were Bobby Charlton, Stanley Matthews, and Bobby Moore, while Duncan Edwards, despite his tragically shortened career, was held in high regard by many. Representing Wales, the inclusion of Ian Rush, Ryan Giggs, and John Charles brought immense talent to the team. Pat Jennings, George Best, and Danny Blanchflower stood out as the greatest stars from Northern Ireland. From Scotland, the selections encompassed Alex James, Kenny Dalglish, and Graeme Souness. With these initial choices, the team comprised a total of 13 players. With these initial choices, the team comprised a total of 13 players, leaving only 10 spaces left to complete the squad.
-- Only three players had ever win the World Cup.  They were Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton.  
-- Liverpool FC contributed three remarkable players to the squad: Graeme Souness, Alan Hansen, and Kenny Dalglish. Their time at the club coincided with the career of Ian Rush, who joined Liverpool later on. It is worth noting that Kevin Keegan, a prominent figure in Liverpool's history, had departed the club in 1977, prior to the arrival of Souness, Hansen, and Dalglish.
-- In my imaginary team representing the United Kingdom at the 1970 World Cup Finals, I had the privilege of including esteemed players such as Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, George Best, Pat Jennings, Gordon Banks, Billy Brenmen and Jimmy Johnstone. These legendary figures were at the height of their careers during that period. That team would have been a force to reckon with.
-- In addition to my imaginary United Kingdom team for the 1970 World Cup, I also created a hypothetical team for the 1982 World Cup. While this team may not have matched the sheer brilliance of its 1970 counterpart on paper, it still boasted an impressive selection of players. Notably, two of the three goalkeepers from the UK All-Time team, Peter Shilton and Pat Jennings, have secured their spots in the 1982 team. Additionally, the team would have been strengthened by the inclusion of Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness, Kenny Dalglish, and Ian Rush, all of whom were on this UK team.
-- In addition to the previously mentioned Pat Jennings, the United Kingdom boasted a remarkable lineup of goalkeepers who left an indelible mark on the sport. Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton, widely regarded as two of the greatest goalkeepers not only in the United Kingdom but also in the world.  Ray Clemence, Frank Swift and Neville Southall were some of the greatest ever goalkeepers from the UK.
-- Frank Swift did not even make my all-time England team.  The three goalkeepers over there were Peter Shilton, Gordon Banks and Ray Clemence.
-- Ronnie Simpson only played 5 times for Scotland, but he was considered to be Celtics' best ever keeper.  He did not arrive in Celtic until he was 33 years old. He received his first cap for Scotland at the age of 36 in 1967, but he represented the United Kingdom in the 1948 Olympics.  But I did not consider him for this team.
-- For rightback, I took my starter from my England All-Time team. Jimmy Armfield (England).  And then, I selected Danny McGrain (Scotland).  He was among the first group of players elected to the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2004.  Phil Neal and Sandy Jardine were the other big names.
-- The left back position was also very obvious for the United Kingdom. So I took the pair from England, Eddie Hapgood and Ashley Cole.  To me, Eddie Hapgood was England's greatest leftback. He was ahead of his time as an attacking fullback. Cole's career was overlayed with Paolo Maldini and Roberto Carlos, but he was still rated as the best leftback in the world during his prime.  That should say something about him.  I do not have any alternative.  John Greig was was voted as the greatest Ranger ever by the fans, but Cole and Hapgood were a level above.  
-- For centerbacks, John Charles and Bobby Moore were already selected above as one of the greatest ever players from Wales and England respectively. Both Sol Campbell and Rio Ferdinand were highly rated, but I took Alan Hansen and Billy Wright who are legends of the game. Alan Hansen whom I considered one of the greatest ever from the United Kingdom.  With Liverpool, he won eight League Championships, two FA Cups, four League Cups, three European Cups and one UEFA Super Cup.  He has been voted into both the English Football and Scottish Football Hall of Fame.  However, he only played 26 times for Scotland.  In fact, some Scottish sources did not even name him as one of Scotland's greatest defenders.
-- After I completed the defensive corps, I had 21 players on the team.  Since John Charles can play on both defence and offence, I probably need another central midfielder and a striker/forward.  
-- As mentioned above, I already selected 3 wingers, 3 central midfielders and 2 attack midfielders.  They were Duncan Edwards, Graeme Souness, Danny Blanchflower, Alex James, Bobby Charlton, George Best, Sir Stanley Matthews and Ryan Giggs.  I only needed one more central midfielder.
-- Duncan Edwards' promising career was tragically cut short by the Munich Air disaster. While some individuals may have questioned his inclusion in any all-time team due to the brevity of his career, I personally have no doubts about his rightful place. Notably, Bobby Charlton himself regarded Edwards as the greatest ever, a testament to the exceptional talent he possessed.
--  George Best is widely regarded by many as the greatest player ever to emerge from the United Kingdom. However, in my viewpoint, his decline as a footballer commenced prematurely during his career. He left Manchester United at the age of 27.  His decline began several seasons before.  I personally rank Bobby Charlton as the greatest player from the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, acknowledging the immense talent and impact Best had during his prime, I would include him in this team. 
-- From the last central midfielder,  I considered Steven Gerrard, Billy Bremner and Bryan Robson.  However, I made the decision to include Dave MacKay in the team due to his exceptional toughness and resilience on the field. MacKay's remarkable qualities were recognized when he was chosen as one of the Football Heroes featured in the stamp series commemorating the 150 years of the English FA. The fact that the United Kingdom honored him with a stamp speaks volumes about his impact on the game. 
-- Jimmy Johnstone and Tom Finney only made honourable mentions.
-- Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush were indisputable choices for the team, primarily due to their status as the greatest footballers from Scotland and Wales, respectively. So I had only two spot for this team.
-- I narrowed down the final choice to five notable forwards: Denis Law, Kevin Keegan, Jimmy Greaves, Hughie Gallacher, and Dixie Dean. However, one player, Patsy Gallacher, posed a sensitive issue due to his involvement with both the IFA (now known as Northern Ireland) and the FAI (Republic of Ireland). Given the potential political complexities associated with his inclusion, I made the decision to exclude him from further consideration. Regardless, I believed that the remaining forwards presented themselves as strong candidates and might be better suited for the team.
-- I pondered the notion of reuniting Manchester United's iconic trinity of Bobby Charlton, George Best, and Denis Law. Law had the distinguished honor of winning the Ballon d'Or. Meanwhile, Kevin Keegan's remarkable talent led him to claim the Ballon d'Or in both 1978 and 1979, making him the only player from the United Kingdom to win the award multiple times. However, ultimately, I opted to include Jimmy Greaves in the team. Greaves, a prolific striker, topped the scoring charts in the English league for an impressive six seasons. His exceptional record made him a deserving addition to the lineup, completing the formidable attacking options at my disposal.

Starting Lineup
I use the British 4-4-2.  John Charles can also start as the centerback.  I would then start Greaves as the striker.


  1. Steven Gerrard must be at least an honorable mention

  2. I'm a big fan of your blogs on greatest xi's, I find them so interesting. One thing I feel though is that you particularly harsh on players from the modern era, and as someone who I consider myself particuarly knowledgeable on UK football, this team makes me certain of that.

    For example, Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney & Gareth Bale are certainties to start in this team, but the latter 2 haven't even been mentioned.

    Anyway, I don't want to criticise as I've enjoyed looking at these, I just wanted to comment my opinion on the modern players being undervalued in these XI's. Thanks for the blogs!

    1. Bale's injury issues put him down the pecking order. Besides, I have Matthews, Giggs and Best on the team.

    2. He was a far better player at his peak than Giggs ever was, but maybe we are looking at it in different ways. Keegan being in consideration above Rooney? In real life, away from stats and the internet, not even a die hard Liverpool fan is claiming that.