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England's Golden Generation vs. the Current Crop - comparing the squads

  • England's 'Golden Generation' were a great side, but do Gareth Southgate's current crop of stars now compare? We explore the question.
Scott Newman
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 21 Dec 2019, 01:23 IST

Full-Backs: Gary Neville, Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole vs. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier, Ben Chilwell, Danny Rose

Ashley Cole was a truly world-class player for England
Ashley Cole was a truly world-class player for England

England’s full-backs were genuinely brilliant in the time of the Golden Generation; Manchester United’s Gary Neville, first capped under Terry Venables in 1996, was a battle-tested veteran by the time Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006 came around, but was still largely considered one of the world’s best right-backs. His defensive nous was phenomenal and his delivery from crosses was also very dangerous.

While today’s right-backs – Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier – are arguably better going forward than Neville was, neither man possesses the defensive solidity of the Manchester United stalwart, and despite the changes in the way full-backs play over the past decade, the position remains largely a defensive one.

It’s probably fair to state, however, that Alexander-Arnold, Trippier, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka – who is likely next in line – are all superior to Neville’s eventual replacement, Glen Johnson of Liverpool.

At left-back meanwhile, the Golden Generation could call upon the services of Ashley Cole of Arsenal and eventually Chelsea. Although he wasn’t the most popular player with some fans, Cole amassed 107 caps for the Three Lions and was ever-present for England from the 2002 World Cup through to Euro 2012. He was named in the all-star squad for Euro 2004, and his epic duels with Cristiano Ronaldo in that tournament and in the 2006 World Cup remain legendary.

Today’s first-choice left-back, Ben Chilwell of Leicester City, has shown flashes of world-class potential since breaking into the England team in late 2018 – picking up three assists in November’s 7-0 win over Montenegro – but he has a long way to go before he can get close to Cole’s standard, something his predecessor and competitor, Tottenham’s Danny Rose, never quite managed.

Advantage: The Golden Generation

Published 16 Dec 2019, 05:21 IST
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