Team of the Decade: England

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SOFIA, BULGARIA - OCTOBER 14: Raheem Sterling of England celebrates with Harry Kane after he scores his sides fifth goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier between Bulgaria and England on October 14, 2019 in Sofia, Bulgaria. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Welcome to Last Word on Football’s team of the decade series, with England as  today’s side. England experienced the usual ups and downs over the past decade. They started the decade with promise, reaching the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. But it was the familiar foe Germany who eliminated Fabio Capello’s side.

Capello departed as manager in 2012. Then, Roy Hodgson steadied the ship and led England to three successive major tournaments between 2012 and 2016. The Three Lions reached the quarter-finals of the 2012 European Championships, but the team were knocked out on penalties by eventual finalists, Italy.

Two disappointing tournaments followed. Hodgson’s side were eliminated in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The Three Lions’ failed to pass the group stage. Two years later, they were knocked out in the last-16 phases of Euro 2016 by Iceland. Roy Hodgson’s departed immediately following the loss.

Sam Allardyce came in for one match as Three Lions boss to replace Hodgson. But he was sacked after 67 days following dubious transfer negotiations. His successor, Gareth Southgate, led the national side to the semi-finals of the Russia World Cup in 2018.

Manager- Gareth Southgate

The FA initially appointed Southgate as an interim manager after Sam Allardyce’s premature departure. However, Southgate went four games unbeaten before signing a four-year contract. The 49-year-old led a young Three Lions team to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018. It was the first time the national team reached this stage since 1990. His calm demeanour, tactical adaptability and youthful squad selections endeared him towards fans.

Formation – 4-3-3

Goalkeeper – Joe Hart

Former Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart was England’s number one for much of the decade. He represented England in three successive tournaments between 2012 and 2016, and couldn’t be displaced. Hart is England’s second-most capped goalkeeper with 75 caps, only Peter Shilton (115) appeared more. Hart struggled to reclaim his place recently and Southgate omitted him from the squad in 2018. But his achievements over the decade are unrivalled by any of England’s other goalkeepers.

Right-back – Kyle Walker

Different managers experimented with numerous players at right-back for England in the past decade, but the most consistent was Kyle Walker. The Manchester City defender made 48 appearances in an England shirt between 2011-2019. He made a reputation as a fast, attacking full-back. Recently he showed his adaptability, playing as a centre back in all five of England’s 2018 World Cup games.

Centre Back – John Terry

Terry represented England for two years in the last decade (2010-2012) before retiring in 2012. However, he played in both the 2010 World Cup and Euros in 2012. Terry also captained the side in the absence of Rio Ferdinand in 2011. Terry’s England career was marred by controversial incidents, but his commitment to the national team was exceptional. His last-ditch, diving header against Slovakia in the South Africa World Cup highlighted his passion and determination in an England shirt.

Centre Back – Gary Cahill

Towering defender Gary Cahill hardly put a foot wrong during his England career. He made his debut in September 2010 and was selected for every major tournament of the decade. But he missed out on Euro 2012 due to a broken jaw sustained in a friendly just before the tournament. The now 34-year-old played every match in the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Euros. Between 2010 and 2018, Cahill made 61 appearances for the Three Lions and captained the team five times. The former Chelsea defender was named vice-captain to Wayne Rooney after the 2014 World Cup. Although he didn’t officially retire, Cahill stated his intention to step aside from England duty for younger players after the 2018 World Cup.

Left-back – Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole is referred to as the best left-back to play for England. He was irreplaceable in his position for over 13 years and finished his England career with 107 caps. Cole is England’s most-capped full-back in history. The former A.S Roma player also holds the record for the most amount of caps without scoring for England. However, no player rivalled Cole’s reliability and intelligence in this position since his retirement in 2014.

Centre Midfield – Frank Lampard

Attacking midfielder Lampard spent 15 years as an England player. He was a proven goalscorer at both club and country level and scored 29 goals in 109 appearances. Lampard is the highest-scoring midfielder in England history. The former Chelsea man was ruthless from the penalty spot and is still England’s highest penalty scorer of all time with nine from 12-yards. Lampard captained the Three Lions on several occasions under Roy Hodgson. He was a reliable figure during his long term representation of England.

Centre Midfield – Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard was another long-term servant for England. His England career spanned 14 years and he was ever-present for England. The Liverpudlian scored 21 goals from midfield. He was named captain in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers under Fabio Capello. Gerrard led the side 38 times during his career, the fifth-highest of any England player. The current Rangers manager retired following the disappointing World Cup in 2014 with 114 caps.

Centre Midfield – Jordan Henderson

Industrious, disciplined and committed. Jordan Henderson’s work in an England shirt often goes unnoticed. He represented England for a decade and made his debut in 2010. Henderson played in four successive major tournaments between 2012-2018. The Liverpool captain led his country on six occasions and was central to England’s semi-final run in 2018. He also contributes to the defensive work to free his attacking teammates. The 29-year-old made 55 appearances for England to date. He will undoubtedly continue to don the England shirt for as long as possible.

Striker – Raheem Sterling

Sterling joined the England squad as a raw talent in 2012 after impressing for Liverpool. He was named in England’s World Cup squad in 2014 at 20-years-old. The winger was England’s stand out player in the opening match against Italy. Sterling is now a central figure of Gareth Southgate’s squad and much of the attacking play revolves around him. The 25-year-old scored ten goals in his last 11 matches for England. He captained the side for the first time in 2019 against Holland at Wembley.

Striker – Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney was England’s star player for much of the 2010s and represented England for 15 years. He finished his national career in 2018 as England’s highest ever goal scorer with 53 goals. The former Manchester United player is the nations second most capped player, having reached 120 before retiring from international duty.

Striker – Harry Kane

Harry Kane scored his first international  just 80 seconds into his debut in 2015. It was a fitting start to the current England captain’s international career. The Tottenham Hotspur striker broke into the first team in 2016. He has since led the line for England in Euro 2016 and the World Cup in 2018. The 26-year-old scored 32 goals in 45 appearances for England. He also scored six goals and won the Golden Boot for Russia 2018.

Substitutes:

Jordan Pickford, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Young, Dele Alli, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin, Marcus Rashford, Danny Wellbeck

Main Photo

Embed from Getty Images

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