Picking an All Time England World Cup XI is tough. It spans over so many eras and there’s a huge pool of players to pick from and many valid reasons for picking them.

The Rules

  1. They have to have played for England in a World Cup.

All Time England World Cup XI

All Time England World Cup XI

Goalkeeper

Picking the goalie is actually fairly straightforward because England haven’t been blessed with that many decent stoppers. Peter Shilton is an obvious candidate. He was nearly 41 when he played the last of his 125 games for his country but he never won the big one. Gordon Banks is in for what he achieved in 1966 and who can forget one of the greatest saves of all time against Pelé in 1970.

Defenders

One thing England have produced plenty of over the years is hard defenders. Pearce, Keown, Adams, Terry, Butcher, Samson, J Charlton, Hughes…the list is endless. However, you surely couldn’t pick an all-time England side without Bobby Moore wearing the captain’s armband at centre-back. The ’66 winner will forever go down as an England legend.

Alongside him is Rio Ferdinand, who can certainly divide opinion. He was good on the ball and a clever defender. His England career spanned 14 years and he was a key player in the 2002 and 2006 campaigns.

At full-backs, we have Ashley Cole and Gary Neville. Regardless of what you think about the way Ashely Cole has gone about his business, he is still the best left back England have ever produced. Fast, got forward, good on the ball and could put in a crunching tackle. Neville was the reliable right back and first choice for England throughout his career. Again, it is hard to overlook a ’66 winner but George Cohen only played for England for three years, including ’66, and Jimmy Armfield never featured in the ’66 campaign due to injury.

Midfielders

Over the years, England have had some dynamic midfielders. It is important to have the right balance between creativity, holding players, and attacking options. Ball, Matthews, Finney, Waddle, Gerrard, Lampard, Hoddle, and Bryan Robson, the man Bobby Robson called Captain Marvel, all deserve an honourable mention but they don’t make the starting XI.

Paul Gascoigne takes the creative central midfielder slot but he could also defend with huge amounts of heart. His passion for the shirt was inspiring and he had an ability to change a game. Alongside him is none other than Sir Bobby Charlton. Arguably our best ever player. Until his record was recently broken by Wayne Rooney, Sir Bobby was England’s all-time leading goal scorer, netting a total of 49 goals in 106 appearances for his country. From midfield!

Out on the left is John Barnes. Pace, skill, and a good crosser of the ball, Barnes featured in two World Cups and was often underrated. On the right is David Beckham. The two front men need service and that is what Becks provides. And on top of that, his free-kicks were deadly and his leadership was superb.

Strikers

Despite being England’s leading ever goal-scorer, Wayne Rooney does not make the All Time England World Cup XI. Neither does recent World Cup Golden Boot winner Harry Kane. Jimmy Greaves is also unlucky not to make the side as people often don’t realise he scored a total of 44 goals in just 57 games for England. But this is a World Cup XI and Greaves was actually injured during ’66, eventually losing his spot to Geoff Hurst. Leading the front line is Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker. The former Everton and Barcelona front man led the line for England at Mexico ’86 and Italia ’90, scoring vital goals along the way, winning the Golden Boot in ‘86. A true goal-poacher and the perfect foil for the physical presence of Shearer.

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