3 Lions, 11 Legends

As the Three Lions kick off their 2018 World Cup campaign tonight, here’s our all time 11! Who makes it into yours?

3 Lions, 11 Legends Elbowroom Graphics

1. Peter Shilton
(125 Caps, 0 Goals 1970-1990)

One of the greats of the game and England’s most-capped player, Bobby Robson sums up Shilton’s incredible longevity in his own unique way – “What can you say about Peter Shilton? Peter Shilton is Peter Shilton, and he has been Peter Shilton since the year dot.”

2. Viv Anderson
(30 Caps, 2 Goals 1978-1988)

When Anderson won his first cap against Czechoslovakia at Wembley on 29 November 1978, he made history as the first black player to represent England. “There weren’t many better sights in the game,” reckoned his former Forest boss Clough, “than seeing Viv gliding forward from his right-back position.”

3. Stuart Pearce
(78 Caps, 5 Goals 1987-1999)

Ferociously competitive Pearce embodies the lion hearted spirit better than any other player. His nickname ‘Psycho’, though fitting to a point, does scant justice to the superb ability housed in his left foot.

4. Bobby Charlton
(106 Caps, 49 Goals 1958-1970)

Arguably the best ever England player, Sir Alf Ramsey said of him “He was one of the greatest players I have seen – very much the linchpin of the 1966 team … I knew I had to find a role suitable to Bobby’s unique talents.”

5. Terry Butcher
(77 Caps, 3 Goals 1980-1990)

A stalwart at the heart of England’s 1980’s defence, Butcher would head a brick wall and tackle a tank. Graham Souness summed him up perfectly when he said, “He’s six foot four inches of solid muscle.”

6. Bobby Moore
(108 Caps, 2 Goals 1962-1973)

Moore was captain in all but 18 of his games and is widely regarded as one of the finest defenders the world has ever seen. Pelé said of him, “Bobby Moore is the best defender I have ever played against, and a gentleman of honour.”

7. David Beckham
(115 Caps, 17 Goals 1996-2009)

The ‘it boy’ of football is one of the most famous sports stars of the 20th century. Blessed with a right foot capable of incredible accuracy, Roberto Carlos said of him, “I would stand on one side and Beckham on the other but I wanted to see Beckham take the free-kick because it’s beautiful how he hits the ball.”

8. Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne
(57 Caps, 10 Goals 1988-1998)

Easily the most naturally gifted English player of his generation, Gazza will always be remembered for his virtuoso flick and volley against Scotland during Euro 96. He was, as Franz Beckenbauer said “A true footballer of the streets – defiant, crafty and intrepid. He could cook up ideas you didn’t expect.”

9. Gary Lineker
(80 Caps, 48 Goals 1984-1992)

Winner of the 1986 World Cup Golden Boot with 6 goals – Lineker was a goal scoring predator of the highest calibre.He notched another 4 goals in 1990 to become one of only 11 players to reach double figures in the tournament.

10. Tom Finney
(76 Caps, 30 Goals 1946-1958)

Ex-serviceman Finney was equally adept upfront or on either wing, with masterful technique and skill – he was as close to a complete player as any to wear the three lions. Bill Shankly said of him “Tom Finney would have been great in any team, in any match and in any age … even if he had been wearing an overcoat.”

11. Stanley Matthews
(54 Caps, 11Goals 1934-1957)

The Wizard of Dribble won his first England cap aged 19, and his final aged 42 – an international career spanning an incredible 23 years. Pelé summed up Matthews’ flair and ability when he said “He was man who taught us the way football should be played.”

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