Former Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham, Stoke City, Everton, Preston, Arsenal and Chelsea players feature in England’s HITC International Legends World Cup squad.
England are one of the hot favourites heading in to the International Legends World Cup this summer, along with the likes of Brazil and Italy. The founders of the beautiful game, England can draw upon players from their finest eras, such as the 1940’s and 1966-70 squad, as well as a few more recent Three Lions stars.
The International Legends World Cup is a simple format. There are 32 national teams, who can all draw upon their greatest ever players. A squad of 15 is drawn up for every nation with a further 8 reserves. From those 8 reserves, supporters can pick which three they would like to see enter the official squad. The result will be a squad of 18 for all 32 entrants.
Of the 32 teams in the competition, 16 are seeded for the round of 32, but draws are entirely random from that point on. The starting XI’s for each game when a team progresses may vary based on injuries, suspensions and tactical alterations, but only from the 18 players that will make up each countries official final squad. Below is the squad for England’s legends:
Arguably the greatest goalkeeper of all-time, Gordon Banks was an easy inclusion in this squad. England have had some tremendous goalkeepers over the years, but none finer than Banks, who played for Stoke City and Leicester City, as well as giving England a helping hand (quite literally) on the way to lifting the 1966 World Cup.
England’s number two for the International Legends World Cup is a man not particularly familiar with playing second fiddle. Peter Shilton won 125 caps for England, more than any other Englishman in history, and made 1249 club appearances over the course of a 31 year career. An incredible goalkeeper, Shilton won two European Cups with Nottingham Forest.
England’s first choice right-back is the oldest name in the squad. Bob Crompton won 41 caps for England between 1902 and 1914, and was the finest full-back in Europe for much of that time. Crompton spent his entire professional career with Blackburn Rovers, where he won two league titles, before becoming a manager and guiding Rovers to FA Cup success in 1928.
It would be impossible to leave Bobby Moore out of this team. The leader in England’s 1966 World Cup triumph, Moore was a natural centre-back and easily among the finest to have lived in his position. Moore spent his best years as a player with West Ham United, and won 108 caps for England.
Lesser known but quite possibly more talented than Moore, Neil Franklin is the most complete centre-half England ever had. A ball-playing defender who was as comfortable bringing the ball out from the back as he was in beating Jock Dodds to a header, Franklin was a post-war star, but was shunned by England following his misbegotten trip to Colombia. Franklin spent the best years of his career at Stoke City.
Not nearly as gifted as Moore or Franklin, but an incredible servant to his country nonetheless, Billy Wright actually ended up having to fill the void vacated by Franklin for the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. Capable of playing at right-half or centre-half, the 105 time capped great would be a versatile back-up option for the English side. Wright was one-club man, spending his entire career with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Left-back is a debatable position, with the likes of Eddie Hapgood and Stuart Pearce excellent candidates, but it’s Ashley Cole who gets the automatic pick. The former Arsenal and Chelsea full-back was quite probably the best left-back in the world for around a decade, and unlike many around him, his performances for England matched the standard he set at club level. Cole won 107 caps for the Three Lions.
The Wizard of the Dribble, Stan Matthews was a phenomenon. Arguably the first global footballing star, Pele once said Matthews taught the world how football ought to be played. Beating his full-back and providing first class deliveries was Matthews’ meat and drink, and he did it until the age of 50. The first ever recipient of the Ballon d’Or, Matthews played for Stoke City and Blackpool, as well as winning 54 caps for England.
The star of the only England team to lift the World Cup, Bobby Charlton surely has to start for England at the International Legends World Cup. The Manchester United legend won 106 caps and scored 49 goals for England despite playing as a midfielder. Charlton, like Matthews, has also won a Ballon d’Or.
Who should partner Bobby Charlton in central midfield? There are so many candidates from Johnny Haynes to Frank Lampard. One man who’ll definitely be in the squad though is Paul Scholes. A world class midfielder, Scholes won it all with Manchester United but was often woefully misused by England. Maybe that will all change at the International Legends World Cup.
Another man from England’s wonderful team of the 1940’s which was almost certainly the strongest in Europe at that time, and possibly the world, Tom Finney was often compared with his great rival Stanley Matthews. A god among men at Preston North End, Finney’s trophy cabinet may be sparse, but his legacy in enormous.
A great option off the bench for England, Glenn Hoddle could operate in a number of midfield positions, and would always bring a touch of class and creativity. Like Scholes, England failed to get the best out of Hoddle, and he won only 53 caps for his country, but he showed for the likes of Tottenham and Monaco what a wonderful technician he was.
England’s greatest ever forward? That’s a tough one, but there are few finer candidates than Jimmy Greaves. But for injury, it would have been Greaves, not Hurst, who led the line for England in ’66. In a glittering career, Greaves scored 422 goals in 602 games at club level and 44 goals from 57 caps for England. He had notable spells at Chelsea, AC Milan, Tottenham and West Ham.
If England ever need goals in the International Legends World Cup, they should have no problem with Gary Lineker partnering the prolific Greaves. These two should feast off the delivery from the likes of Finney and Matthews, and Lineker has a fine track record at the World Cup, England’s top scorer in the competition in fact. The Match of the Day presenter turned out for Leicester, Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham in a terrific career which saw him bag 48 goals from 80 caps.
On the rare chance that Greaves and Lineker haven’t got their shooting boots on, England have quite a capable deputy waiting in the wings. In fact, Dixie Dean has the finest goal scoring record of the lot. The Everton legend who once bagged 67 goals in a single season, retired with a record of 425 goals from 489 outings, and averaged better than a goal a game for England (18 goals from 16 caps).
That’s it for England’s definite 15, now it’s over to you to pick which three reserve players get the nod and join the likes of Matthews and Charlton in England’s final 18 for the International Legends World Cup. The eight reserve players to choose from are as follows:
1. Frank Swift – Former Manchester City goalkeeper – 19 caps
2. Sol Campbell – Former Tottenham, Arsenal & Portsmouth centre-back – 73 caps
3. Gary Neville – Former Manchester United full-back – 85 caps
4. David Beckham – Former Manchester United & Real Madrid midfielder – 115 caps
5. Paul Gascoigne – Former Newcastle & Tottenham midfielder – 57 caps
6. Raich Carter – Former Sunderland, Derby & Hull inside-forward – 13 caps
7. Wayne Rooney – Current Manchester United forward – 119 caps*
8. Alan Shearer – Former Southampton, Blackburn & Newcastle forward – 63 caps
You can vote on which reserve you feel should make the final squad. The three players with the most votes will make the cut: