England's team of the decade
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It’s been a tumultuous decade for the England national football team; the Three Lions started in 2010 with a disastrous World Cup campaign under Fabio Capello, being eliminated by Germany in one-sided fashion in the Round of 16, and from there things largely went from bad to worse – for a while at least.
Capello made way for Roy Hodgson in 2012 and the veteran boss took England to a Quarter-Final spot at Euro 2012, but his following two tournaments were abominable; the Three Lions crashed out in the group stages of World Cup 2014 and were then eliminated by Iceland at Euro 2016 in truly humiliating fashion, resulting in Hodgson’s departure.
After Sam Allardyce’s bizarre one-match reign ended in swift fashion, Gareth Southgate was parachuted into the managerial hot-seat – and to everyone’s shock he’s done a phenomenal job since, surprising everyone by taking England to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and making even more progress since.
Here, we take a look at the best players to have represented England in this decade and create a team of the decade for the Three Lions.
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford
England goalkeepers have hardly crowned themselves in glory during this decade. We started off with the unfortunate Robert Green – who infamously let Clint Dempsey’s shot squirm under his body during the 2010 World Cup – and then after a brief return for veteran David James, the highly-rated Joe Hart became England’s undisputed #1.
But Hart – who was Manchester City’s #1 goalkeeper for the majority of his England career – failed to live up to the hype, and it was largely down to his weak wrists and poor positioning that the Three Lions conceded four bad goals at Euro 2016.
Current keeper Jordan Pickford gets my nod in this spot, then. He’s not flawless of course, and has made a number of silly mistakes in his time as England’s #1 – but he also had an outstanding 2018 World Cup and became the first England keeper since David Seaman in 1998 to save a penalty during a shootout.
For his penalty heroics in that Round of 16 game with Colombia, Pickford takes his spot as England’s goalkeeper of the decade.
Right-Back: Kieran Trippier
It feels almost cliche to simply pick the majority of the players involved in England’s run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, but then-Tottenham right-back Kieran Trippier was absolutely fantastic during the tournament, and his contributions in Russia mean he’s an easy pick for the team of the decade over and above the likes of Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker.
Trippier was an ever-present in England’s World Cup side, playing as an attacking right wing-back for the most part, and it was the Tottenham man who was relied on to deliver the majority of England’s set-pieces, as well as crosses into the box aimed for striker Harry Kane.
When he became only the third man to ever score for England in a World Cup semi-final – alongside legends Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker – Trippier became a genuine England legend. How could he not be in this side?
Centre-Back: John Terry
John Terry might’ve been a figure of controversy during his time with England – his part in the Wayne Bridge scandal may have sown the seeds for England’s disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign – but despite playing his last match for the Three Lions in 2012, it’s hard to argue that their defence wasn’t much stronger with him involved.
England weren’t the most attractive team in Euro 2012, but their defence was rock-solid for the most part and that was largely down to the leadership of Terry at the back. The Chelsea captain was simply fantastic throughout the tournament and made a game-saving goal-line clearance in a key group game against Ukraine.
When Terry retired from international football later that year it was hard to argue that England were better off without him – and their defence has never really been the same since.
Centre-Back: Harry Maguire
If we’re talking about a pair of steady hands and experience here, then Gary Cahill would probably warrant a spot in England’s team of the decade – but his performances were often lacking and a mistake was never far from his door. Therefore I’ve gone for the strongest centre-back of Gareth Southgate’s current side, Harry Maguire.
Maguire might have just one international tournament under his belt, but it was the 2018 World Cup – the first time England had made the semi-finals since 1990 – and the then-Leicester City defender played a huge part in that success, proving himself to be a rock at the heart of the defence, as well as a danger from set-pieces.
His headed goal against Sweden in the quarter-finals of that tournament elevated him to cult status with the fans, and his skills on the ball and passing range make him a key man for Gareth Southgate going forward.
Left-Back: Ashley Cole
Like John Terry, Ashley Cole ended his international career relatively early in the decade; the Chelsea left-back chose to step away in 2014 following his omission from that year’s World Cup squad. After England’s performance in that tournament though, it was hard to argue that boss Roy Hodgson had done the right thing by cutting him.
Ben Chilwell may finally be a long-term solution to this problem position, but it’s fair to say that since 2014 England haven’t really been able to replace Cole, who represented the perfect blend of defensive skills and ability on the ball to allow him to contribute in attack, too.
Leighton Baines, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young and Danny Rose have never been able to come close to Cole’s consistency in the big games – and so I’ve got no qualms in naming him in this side.