Opinion

Who would make it into your all-time best England XI?

Some great names left on the bench by pundits Owen and Redknapp

England start their Euros campaign at 2 tomorrow afternoon. Ahead of that, Michael Owen and Harry Redknapp came together to discuss England’s greatest ever players and they have each named their personal all-time England XI.

Speaking with BetVictor, the pair had praise for multiple England legends, but particularly so for Jimmy Greaves who Redknapp described as a “genius” while Owen claimed that his dad told him that Tottenham’s all-time top goalscorer is “the best finisher he’s ever seen”.

I had the great privilege of sharing the pitch with “Greavsie” when I played for the Daily Express against The Sun. Fleet Street newspapers used to play each other in friendlies. Given Jimmy was a columnist in The Sun they felt it was okay to put him on the park against us. The games were intended to be ‘staff-only’. He played at the back so as not to create a fuss and it was a delight to be “marked” by him. The Sun also fielded the likes of Arsenal duo Malcolm McDonald and keeper Bob Wilson, but not against the Express.

But, back to the considerably more famous duo… Owen and Redknapp agreed on seven selections for England’s greatest ever XI with Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Bobby Charlton, Paul Gascoigne and Jimmy Greaves making it into both teams.

However, Redknapp opted for John Terry, Stuart Pearce, David Beckham and Harry Kane for his final spots as part of a 3-5-2, whereas Owen chose Gary Neville, Ashley Cole, Alan Ball and Wayne Rooney in a 4-4-2 formation. Neville? I like him a lot, but if he’s England’s finest ever right back that doesn’t say a lot for the rest.

Given the respective ages of the two pundits it is understandable that they seem to only start in the 1960s with their choices so no room for players like Wolves’ Billy Wright who gained more than 100 caps.

Glaring omissions

So, who did the two leave out? I concede that it’s far from easy with only 11 names to chose. But, no room for Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Bryan Robson or Frank Lampard? Could they really be overlooked? And how about Terry Butcher and Tony Adams? I would also be tempted to suggest Paul Scholes, but I’m not sure he ever matched his club form in an England shirt. I guess Owen could hardly pick himself!

I agree that Banks is the best English keeper I’ve seen. But that’s pretty harsh on England leading cap holder Peter Shilton. I’m also glad to see my personal sporting hero Sir Bobby Charlton in both teams. No arguments from me about the others making up the common seven.

But, what do you think. Who have we failed to name? A subject for debate down at the pub tonight?

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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