Two wonderful England teams separated by 55 years of hurt… so who makes our combined XI for the ages from Alf Ramsey’s heroes of ’66 and Gareth Southgate’s lions of Euro 2020 ahead of Sunday’s Wembley showdown with Italy?
- England take on Italy on Sunday in their first major tournament final since 1966
- Back then, Alf Ramsey’s side beat West Germany 4-2 to lift the World Cup
- It remains England’s only tournament success but the wait could soon be over
- Hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst and immortal Bobby Moore make our combined XI
- As do modern heroes Harry Kane and Harry Maguire, but who else gets the nod?
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here
The task here is to pick a team for the ages, not only for the aged I hasten to add as someone who was also around back then in the golden summer of ’66.
Nevertheless the starting point for compiling a combined England XI from between the heroes of two generations separated by 55 years of striving unfulfilled has to be among our only World Cup winners.
If only because Alf Ramsey was blessed with three immortal footballers.
England lifted the World Cup in 1966 but the years since have been filled with disappointment
Now, however, 55 years of hurt could be about to end with England in the Euro 2020 final
Master goalkeeper Gordon Banks, imperious captain Bobby Moore and magical maker and taker of goals Bobby Charlton stand above all argument.
They were reinforced by two players of unquestionable world class. Ray Wilson remains England’s finest left back and one of the best of all time in that position.
And while Moore was elected the Player of the Tournament, Alan Ball was voted Man of the Final for the prodigious work-rate and feisty skills which dominated Wembley’s right flank.
Gareth Southgate is served by one true great in the making, Harry Kane, and two who have grown towards world class in these Euros, Raheem Sterling and Harry Maguire, plus an abundance of potential.
Gordon Banks, seen making a save during the 1966 final against West Germany, gets the nod
Captain fantastic Bobby Moore obviously takes his place in our composite selection
Harry Maguire has been immense at the heart of England’s defence during the tournament
So how do we fit the pieces into this jigsaw?
Banks stands supreme. But sorry Big Jack, a colossus of a giraffe, Maguire has come through all his turmoil and my own reservations to declare himself in these pulsating weeks as not only an animal of a defender but also a powerful contributor to the attacking element of the team. Not least from those set-pieces of increasing importance.
Since I am going for a 3-4-3 formation to negate the creativity of the Italian midfield, Maguire makes it into a back three constructed of himself, Moore and Wilson.
Ball’s manic work rate would help protect the right side of that defence , as well as energise attacking movement on that wing.
Ray Wilson gets his hands on the trophy during England’s lap of honour after the 1966 triumph
Alan Ball was described by Alf Ramsey as ‘two players in one’ and gets in for his industry
Mason Mount would be the ideal partner for Bobby Charlton in the England engine room
As his manager described him: ‘Ballie ? Two players in one.’ Always a bonus in the numbers game of modern coaching.
The illustrious Sir Bobby Charlton would be the king-pin of that England midfield, abetted by the more expansive qualities which Mason Mount promises to supplement the destructive defiance with which our cherished Nobby Stiles subdued Portugal’s Eusebio in the World Cup semi-final.
Imagine, then, the fluency with which the presumptuous Phil Foden – do not forget he is left-footed – would respond to the flowing genius of Sir Bobby alongside him.
Bobby Charlton belts home England’s winner against Portugal in the 1966 World Cup semi
Manchester City magician Phil Foden wins his place in our combined England team
Despite the temptation to recall Jimmy Greaves from his wilderness of ’66, it is impossible to omit the scorer of the only hat-trick in World Cup Final history.
That selection is made more important by the potential for Geoff Hurst to provide a good – and, yes, old fashioned – centre forward who might not only score himself but also release Kane to exercise his more complete skills as a mobile striker.
That would free Sterling to run opposing defences to distraction, as has become his wont this month.
England’s hero against Denmark Harry Kane is a natural choice in the forward line
‘They think it’s all over – it is now’ as Geoff Hurst scores his third and England’s fourth in 1966
Raheem Sterling wins a place in our line-up for his brilliant contribution during the Euros
So here it is: My team imagined across half a century or more:
Banks; Moore, Maguire, Wilson; Ball, Mount, Charlton, Foden; Kane, Hurst, Sterling
This Magnificent Eleven, beyond reasonable doubt, would defeat the present Italian team for all its many talents at Wembley on Sunday night.
Whether Southgate’s lads of today – and perhaps more so our tomorrows – can add the European Championship to the only major trophy ever won by this country which gave football to the world….. is in the hands of history.
HERE’S HOW OUR COMBINED XI WOULD LINE UP
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