1966 is the most famous of years for all Englishmen. It is the only year in history that England have managed to succeed in an international tournament, triumphing on home soil against West Germany to claim the World Cup.
The 30th July 1966 is the greatest day in English football history and that incredible afternoon at Wembley where England were victorious was 50 years ago. This summer, Roy Hodgson’s England side travel to France to try and claim the country’s first ever European Championship.
in 1996, 30 years after the World Cup win, England hosted the EUROs and this was perhaps the best England side to grace the field after the success in the sixties. The Three Lions, of course, went out on penalties to none other than the Germans, who went on to win the tournament.
Bobby Moore holding the Jules Rimet Trophy aloft is a familiar sight to all of us, as is Gazza in tears, David Beckham’s red card, Frank Lampard’s ghost goal and Gordon Banks’ save from Pele, but who will be the men to provide the memorable moments for England fans this year?
Here is what we believe to be England’s best XI heading to France…
We can’t look past Joe Hart. Manchester City’s keeper has 58 caps for England and deservedly so. Fraser Forster and Tom Heaton are great goalkeepers, but Hart’s success speaks for itself – he may play in a great side but he has been a pivotal part of the City team that has won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and two League Cups. Hart has won the Premier League golden glove four times and has the experience from past tournaments to help England improve on their last few woeful international tournaments. Hart will just be praying that no game goes to penalties.
Despite the absolute shambles on the final day of the season, Tottenham were tremendous throughout the campaign. Kane and Alli got all the plaudits but the third place finish was a team effort and Walker’s quality was vital for Pochettino’s team. The 26 year old will be hoping to add to his 15 international caps and thoroughly deserves his spot ahead of Nathaniel Clyne, who played in five of the last six qualifiers for England – Hodgson does have a tough decision between these two.
The 30 year old defender had a miserable campaign at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea finishing tenth, the worst title defence in Premier League history. However, Cahill has been named as Hodgson’s vice captain, and his leadership and experience will be vital for a youthful England side. Cahill has 42 caps for England and this could potentially be his last international tournament. His composure and ability to play the ball out from the back gives him the nod ahead of his competitors in the line up.
Chris Smalling is the man who denies John Stones a place in FootballFanCast’s England line up. The 26 year old was incredible for Manchester United this term and looks like a real mature defender. John Stones, on the other hand, did not have the best of seasons with Everton conceding far too many goals. The EUROs will be a good experience for him, but Smalling deserves a spot in the line up.
Another Tottenham defender here and another one who’s fully has earned his place in the starting line up. England’s other option is Ryan Bertrand who was superb this season, but he misses out on a place in the line-up due to a series of stunning Rose performances that led to him being named in the Premier League Team of the Year. The 25 year old has worked hard and has really improved, he is surely ready to play on the World’s biggest stage.
Despite his horrific own goal on Friday night, Eric Dier makes the side. The Spurs midfielder has been a key figure in the Tottenham midfield and scored the winner against Germany in March, making him and England hero. The 22 year old gets in ahead of Danny Drinkwater who, despite his great season with Leicester, is yet to prove himself on the international stage (even though he was bizarrely named man of the match against the Netherlands). Dier will be a great man to have in the England side, controlling the midfield in Group B.
Prepare your insults and get the abuse ready, but Jack Wilshere is in the team. The classy playmaker has been injured for almost the whole campaign, but there is no doubting his quality when he is on the pitch. You may hate his off-the-field antics but Wilshere is certainly capable of leading England to success, he is one of the best midfielders that the country has ever produced when he is fully fit. Wilshere always performs well when he pulls on the Three Lions shirt.
Alli is a lot less controversial to pick in the England line up, as the Spurs midfielder is seemingly adored by all… and it is easy to see why. Alli took the Premier League by storm in his debut season, helping himself to 10 goals and nine assists in a stunning campaign at White Hart Lane. Alli stands at 6ft 1, but is great on the ball, is skilful and has an incredible passing ability. It is seemingly inevitable that he will make the England line up.
Wayne Rooney has picked up 110 caps for England and scored a record 52 goals, the latest of which came on Friday night against Australia via a stunning hit to put England 2-0 ahead. Rooney makes the side in the midfield due the incredible performances from England’s other forwards, but the Man United man is far too valuable and experienced to be left out of the side. He may be past his best but he will be a great role model for the younger players and Rooney is clearly capable of scoring, no matter what position he plays in.
What. A. Season. In case you hadn’t heard it enough times, Leicester City astonishingly won the Premier League this year and it was largely down to this man. The man who rose through all the English divisions in a matter of years has become a legend and will be in the football history books for all time. Vardy scored 24 goals this season and grabbed eight assists too as well as scoring for a record 11 matches in succession and scoring his first two England goals against Germany and the Netherlands respectively, not bad for a player who was playing Halifax Town just 4 years ago!
He’s one of our own. And thank goodness he is! Harry Kane is exactly the kind of player who sends England teams home from international tournaments. The talented 22 year old forward scored 28 goals for Tottenham, including winning the Premier League Golden Boot as well as scoring four international goals. Kane is one of the most ruthless strikers in European football and will definitely a score a goal or two if he is given enough service. With Alli playing behind him, a man who has provided Kane with plenty of assists this season, he could hit the ground running in France.
So here it is, in a diamond formation of 4-1-2-1-2:
Hart, Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose, Dier, Wilshere, Alli, Rooney (C), Vardy, Kane.
It looks like a genuinely great side, but our advice at FootballFanCast is not to get your hopes up too high, England will always find a way to bottle it. And for those of you who aren’t such a big fan of the team, don’t blame us, we can only pick English players!