England's best XI of the 21st Century

Published 5 Comments

Football News

England dished out an 8-0 thrashing to San Marino last Friday night - their most emphatic victory of the 21st Century.

But looking back over the last 13 years, which players would make it into an England best XI?

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart

We’ve been lacking a good goalkeeper since David Seaman lost his nerve and became too slow between the sticks. Paul Robinson filled in for a while, and David James and Rob Green also tried to fill his oversized gloves, but until the Manchester City number one moved into the England shirt we’ve been at a loss.

Hart's season at Birmingham gave him as much experience as he would have got at any other team in five - such was the manner of their defence - and since then he’s been fantastic. This season has had its ups and down for Hart, but he’s the best English goalkeeper we’ve had.

Left-back: Ashley Cole

This one’s a bit of a no-brainer. Possibly the best left-back in the world, even now, Ashley Cole is undoubtedly world class. 

Part of Arsenal’s 'Invincibles' as well as a key member of Chelsea’s back-four, the man has won trophies galore, including one Champions League and three Premier League medals. 

Fast, skilful and reliable, the man is excellent in the left-back position.

Centre-back: John Terry

Another Chelsea favourite, John Terry’s commitment in defence is unrivalled. 

We all remember him scrambling about on the floor in South Africa in 2010 like a grounded salmon, and he always gave his all for the Three Lions.

Love him or hate him - and he’s not my cup of tea - the man was a force of nature in the back-four.

Centre-back: Sol Campbell

Towards the end of his career he was getting a bit lost, but at the turn of the century, there wasn’t anyone you’d want more in your defence than Sol.

He served brilliantly in north London, being utilised even until his late thirties by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

Right-back: Gary Neville

The most-capped English right-back ever with 85 caps; over 600 appearances for Manchester United and eight Premier League medals, in his day he was the best right-back playing in England.

Even until the day he retired he could hit a pitch-perfect cross onto Wayne Rooney or Dimitar Berbatov’s head. It was his legs that failed him, and we won't hold that against him.

He got old, everybody does. But Gary Neville gets the nod in the right-back position.

Centre-midfield: Paul Scholes

Does this need an explanation? The ‘Ginger Prince’ has been playing world-class football for nearly 20 years. He tried to retire at Manchester United, but there wasn’t anyone who could nearly fill his boots so he came back. 

A force of nature in his day spraying balls all over the pitch, setting up goal after goal for United and helping England all the way.

When he was asked to come back and join the England lads for the 2010 World Cup he turned it down because he hadn’t helped them qualify, and felt the spot should go to someone who had. The man has class and talent.

Centre-midfield: Steven Gerrard

‘Steve Gerrard, Gerrard. He'll pass the ball forty yards…’ 

Captain of Liverpool; Captain of England; Premier League legend. It’s a tough decision trying to pick who to play along side Paul Scholes in this 21st century XI. 

Frank Lampard is another obvious choice, as well as Jack Wilshere and Scott Parker, but Gerrard gets the nod for me. 

Wilshere is still young and hasn’t featured much for the Three Lions and, as far as I’ve seen, Gerrard’s consistency in a white shirt and a red shirt is the greatest out of any English midfielder. Lampard’s form seems to dip on the international stage, and that’s why I’ve given it to Stevie.

Right-wing: David Beckham

All that needs to be brought up here is the free-kick scored against Greece in England's crunch 2002 World Cup qualifier. The man played his heart out, and scored the greatest free kick in English football’s history.

If that’s not enough, we’ve also got the fact that he’s England’s most-capped outfield player.

Left-wing: Ashley Young

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have Gareth Bale or Ryan Giggs? 

Giggs did play for England schoolboys before playing for the Wales international team. So for me it has to be Ashley Young. 

He played his best football at Aston Villa under Martin O’Neill’s keen eye before moving to Manchester United for around £16m. The guy can play almost anywhere across the front: left-wing, right-wing, striker and attacking midfielder. He’s got pace, skills and a reasonable shot. 

Still yet to truly prove himself in the internationals, but he sure can play.

Striker: Wayne Rooney

When Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene, scoring his first goal against Arsenal in 2002 for Everton, Arsene Wenger had this to say: "Rooney is the biggest England talent I've seen since I arrived in England. There has certainly not been a player under 20 as good as him since I became a manager here". 

Rooney is one of the most important players for England and for Manchester United and  has been for a long time. One of the only players capable of breaking Alan Shearer’s Premier League goal record, Rooney’s got to be in that team.

Striker: Michael Owen

The greatest ever striker in an English shirt, Michael Owen sits fourth in the Three Lions' top goalscorers table. 

Unfortunately his career was ravaged by injury, Owen deserves a place in the history books for his goal against Brazil at the 2002 World Cup finals and his hat-trick against Germany in the 5-1 win in Munich.


DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeFootball Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia.The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Joe Hart
Ashley Cole
David Beckham
Ashley Young
Paul Scholes
Steven Gerrard

Article Comments

Read more

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author


This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again