England secured qualification for the 2018 World Cup on Thursday night in what was a pretty uninspiring 1-0 win over Slovenia.
Kyle Walker pounced on goalkeeper Jan Oblak’s mistake to whip in a cross which was brilliantly touched home by Harry Kane, who captained the side at Wembley, for the 94th-minute winner.
The planning for next summer’s tournament starts now, and it’s safe to say that Gareth Southgate must do a lot better than what Roy Hodgson managed if he wants to keep his job.
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In 2014, England suffered their first group stage elimination since 1958 when they finished bottom of Group D behind Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica, scoring just two goals.
With that in mind, and thinking ahead to Russia, we’ve decided to take a look at what Hodgson’s first-choice England starting XI was back in Brazil and where those players have ended up now.
GK – Joe Hart (West Ham)
Goalkeeper Joe Hart came into the 2014 World Cup on the back of winning the 2013-14 Premier League with Manchester City.
Hart enjoyed two more years as City’s number one, in which he played a whopping 91 times, before Pep Guardiola arrived and he found himself on loan at Torino.
The 30-year-old is on loan again this term at West Ham, but with 74 caps, he is comfortably the most experienced player involved in the England setup today.
RB – Glen Johnson (Stoke City)
Glen Johnson had been part of the Liverpool team that “nearly won the league” and ended up playing 200 games for them before leaving in 2015.
The right-back, who’s earned 54 caps for England, swapped Merseyside for Stoke City, but the 33-year-old has only featured three times for The Potters so far this term.
CB – Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
Chelsea’s Gary Cahill was arguably England’s first-choice centre-back in 2014 and the 31-year-old remains a regular to this day.
Since the last World Cup, he has won the League Cup, two Premier League titles, been included in the PFA Team of the Year twice and replaced John Terry as skipper at Stamford Bridge.
CB – Phil Jagielka (Everton)
Phil Jagielka joined Everton in 2007 and has racked up over 350 appearances for The Toffees in addition to becoming club captain.
The defender has been out of the England squad for nearly a year now, and at 35, the pace of the Premier League seems to be catching up to him.
LB – Leighton Baines (Everton)
Like Jagielka, Leighton Baines is another stalwart of the Everton defence and someone who was deserving of his starting place in Brazil three years ago.
The classy left-back has battled past lots of injury problems to get back to full fitness at Everton, but the 32-year-old’s England days look to be behind him.
CM – Steven Gerrard (retired)
Steven Gerrard captained England at the 2014 World Cup and is the country’s fourth-most capped player of all-time, behind David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Peter Shilton.
Having just missed out on his best chance to win the Premier League, the midfield man retired from international football shortly after the disappointing tournament.
The 37-year-old, now an academy coach at Liverpool, spent one more year at his beloved club after the World Cup before moving to LA Galaxy, where he eventually retired in 2016.
CM – Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Having partnered Stevie G in central midfield all season long, it made sense for Jordan Henderson to line up alongside him in the middle of the park for England too.
Since the last World Cup, Henderson took over from Gerrard as Liverpool captain, he recently made his 250th appearance for the club and is a candidate to wear the armband in Russia next summer.
RM – Raheem Sterling (Man City)
Raheem Sterling went into the World Cup in good form after a breakthrough season at Liverpool but has struggled to produce his best displays on the international stage.
The winger remained at Anfield for the 2014-15 campaign before completing an initial £44 million switch to Man City, for whom he’s scored 27 goals in 103 matches.
No. 10 – Wayne Rooney (Everton)
Say what you want about Rooney, who replaced Gerrard as captain, but his status as both an England and Manchester United legend is well and truly assured.
Despite Man Utd’s struggles under David Moyes, Rooney still managed to score 19 goals in 2013-14 heading into the World Cup, where he scored his first-ever goal at the tournament against Uruguay.
In the three years after the World Cup (which turned out to be his final three at United), he scored 37 goals for the Red Devils, won four trophies and broke scoring records for club and country.
The 31-year-old returned to Everton this summer and retired from England duty as the nation’s most capped outfield player (119 caps) and leading top scorer (53 goals).
LM – Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)
With 15 goals in 36 England games, Danny Welbeck is one of those players who seems to perform better for his country than he does at club level.
The forward’s pace and high work-rate made him a key man for Hodgson at the World Cup, and in the same summer, the forward left his boyhood club Man United for rivals Arsenal.
Due to injuries and his un-clinical nature in front of goal, 26-year-old Welbeck has failed to reach the ten-goal mark in any of his seasons with the Gunners (something which he did twice at Man Utd).
ST – Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
The fact that Daniel Sturridge played more games in the 2013-14 season than in the following two combined sums up where his career has gone – injuries.
The striker was the only player besides Rooney to score for England in Brazil, but since then, injury issues and a lack of form seem to have defined his time at Liverpool.
Sturridge has only scored 16 league goals since the last World Cup (Kane managed 29 last season alone), and many people doubt whether he’ll get back to his top-class best ever again.
What do YOU make of England's XI at the last World Cup now? How far do YOU think the current team will go in Russia next year? Leave YOUR opinions in the comments box below!