Did you know Kieran Trippier’s dad received a warning from his local council because he refused to take his giant England flag down from his front garden?
Anyway, you don’t have to be as St George’s cross mad as Trippier senior to understand that the England international team are a big deal. You don’t have to be as football mad to know that the England international team are among football’s biggest underachievers, either.
But fate (90min) has given England the chance to right some of their wrongs from the last couple of decades. The disappointment of the ‘golden generation’ can still salvage their legacy. Kinda.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be running a mini-World Cup on our social media channels to determine which nation has had the best XI of the century so far.
And up first, we have the Three Lions…
1. (GK) David Seaman
England used up most of their good karma for good goalkeepers with Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton, but luckily there was just enough left to produce one David Seaman, chuckling his way into this XI with considerable ease.
2. (RB) Trent Alexander-Arnold
I already know this is going to be a contentious pick. ‘What’s he done for England?’
Listen buddy, in the grand scheme if things, no one in this team has done anything for England. We’ve won one (1) trophy in our history. Trent Alexander-Arnold is by far the best English right-back this century. Even Gary Neville would give you that.
3. (CB) Rio Ferdinand
The original modern centre back, arguably a few years ahead of his time. Looking back, it’s quite something that Rio managed to not make red-faced men angry by ‘faffing about on the ball’.
4. (CB) John Terry
England’s best centre back since Bobby Moore. Fact.
5. (LB) Ashley Cole
For about a decade, Cole was the finest left back in Europe. His legacy as an Invincible with Arsenal and a European champion with Chelsea is a unique one (his other unique achievements include becoming a meme during his time at Roma and making you forget that he played for Derby to close his career).
6. (DM) Paul Scholes
Paul Scholes at Manchester United ??
? 718 apps
⚽️ 155 goals
?️ 70 assists
? 11 Premier League titles
? 2 Champions Leagues
? 3 FA Cups
? 2 League Cups
? Club World Cup
? Intercontinental Cup
?? United Legend.pic.twitter.com/6oW77rtSVd
— UTFR ?? (@ManUtd_HQ) April 26, 2020
Our cop-out of the debate regarding England’s best midfielders is to just include them all, and we have a fit and primed Paul Scholes at the base of our diamond.
You ever heard of that quote about Scholes pointing at a tree 70 yards away and hitting it perfectly with a lofted ball? It might be fake, but the you get the point. He was a baller. Loved a screamer, too, our Paul.
7. (CM) David Beckham
David Beckham: England v Greece
In the final minutes of the game at Old Trafford, England needed a goal to draw with Greece to send them to the 2002 World Cup. Beckham stepped up from a free-kick, and put it into the top corner, becoming an instant national hero. pic.twitter.com/7FROrLqrKV
— MustWinGame on Insta (@MustWinGames) April 20, 2020
To the right of our diamond is Golden Balls, Becks, the footballer formerly known as David, playing in a role which Kevin de Bruyne does the business in nowadays.
Beckham’s history was rewritten to the point where he was suddenly viewed as overrated, but now if anything he’s become underrated again – the bloke was a Rivaldo away from winning the Ballon d’Or in 1999 for crying out loud.
Well worthy of the brand he possesses, well worthy of a place in England’s team of the century.
8. (CM) Steven Gerrard
Before Slippy G slipped against Chelsea to make Liverpool slip in the title race after insisting ‘this does not f***ing slip’, he was one of the greatest midfielders to grace the game.
Because, all jokes aside, those Liverpool teams should never have been good enough to win the Champions League, to overturn a 3-0 deficity against that Milan side, to even compete for the Premier League title. They were the weakest of England’s original ‘big four’ by miles, but Gerrard was the driving force to propel them to those heights.
Liverpool fans describe him as a superhero, and they might be right – Gerrard played with some absolute dross down the years, and the fact he’s goaded only for never winning a league title is testament to how great the rest of his career was.
9. (AM) Frank Lampard
Do you know how hard it is to finish a season with double figures of goals when you’re a midfielder? It’s bloody difficult. Frank Lampard managed it for ten seasons in a row.
During the mid-2000s, Chelsea were effectively the Galacticos of England, bringing in a string of top talent and challenging on all fronts. Michael Ballack, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Claude Makelele, Arjen Robben, Damien Duff, Joe Cole – Lampard was the king of them all, and only Terry has a bigger claim to truly being the sole poster boy of the club.
Even then, Lampard is Chelsea’s record goalscorer, Chelsea’s current manager. Mr Chelsea.
10. (ST) Wayne Rooney
From Chelsea’s record goalscorer to Manchester United and England’s, Rooney somehow never received the respect he warranted for how good a player he was.
Off-field controversies blinded people of the talent Wazza had – the guy was good enough to have his own TV show, where he went in search of the best street footballers.
He could play as the main man or in a supporting role, up top alone or with a partner, dropping deep to allow runners or starting there to dictate play. Got a bit to his head in the Louis van Gaal era when he played as a central midfielder behind Marouane Fellaini, but you get the gist of it.
Now with over 300 career goals, Rooney’s trying himself out as a columnist for The Times, and he’s wonderfully, if surprisingly, insightful.
11. (ST) Harry Kane
The only thing that could stop Kane from not just breaking Rooney’s England goals record is injuries. The only thing that could stop Kane from breaking Alan Shearer’s Premier League goals record is injuries or a move to Real Madrid (file the latter under ‘unlikely’ for the time being).
Much like Gerrard, the prominent flaws in Kane’s career come in terms of his CV, but hey, if he leads this Tottenham team to glory then that’s an achievement worth double.
Kane is part of an exclusive list of players to win successive Premier League Golden Boots – only Shearer, Michael Owen, Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie and Mohamed Salah have managed it – and at his peak he was the best striker in the world.
And he’s going to score every penalty he gets.
England will face the Netherlands in their round of 16 matchup. Keep an eye on our social media channels to cast your vote!