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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

England’s Euro 2024 and Golden Generation combined XI –

England’s Euro 2024 squad have the chance to reach the heights the Golden Generation of the 2000s couldn’t when the festival of football kicks off in Germany.

The Three Lions have so often flattered to deceived at major tournaments and no other side embodies that consistent failure more than the side that lined up throughout the noughties. They’ve since been usurped in solid accomplishments by the current crop of players, who have managed top-three finishes at the World Cup and European Championship under manager Gareth Southgate.

But how would a combined XI between the two generations work? Is there anyway to solve that age-old ‘Lampard-Gerrard’ conundrum? Don’t worry; in our infinite wisdom here at 90min, we’ve assembled an ideally balanced England side that would surely win silverware on the international stage.


GK: Jordan Pickford

Pickford became a national hero in 2018 / MLADEN ANTONOV/GettyImages

If there’s one thing England’s Golden Generation lacked, it was a goalkeeper of equal quality to their outfield counterparts.

The likes of Paul Robinson and David James gave it a good go before Joe Hart took over, but Jordan Pickford is the only shot-stopper who can argue they’ve been a net positive for the Three Lions at international tournaments in recent years.

The Everton goalie was crucial in the penalty shootout victory over Colombia at the 2018 World Cup and provided some fruitless heroics in the Euro 2020 final.

His club form means England fans aren’t totally unanimous with their praise, but Pickford rarely lets his country down and deserves more recognition for it.


RB: Kyle Walker

Kyle Walker

Walker remains a fierce athlete at 34 / Julian Finney/GettyImages

Kyle Walker remarkably seems to be getting better with age and there’s no sign yet that he’s slowing down when it comes to a foot race.

The former Tottenham Hotspur defender has had to overcome criticism from his own manager at Manchester City but his physical attributes mean even Pep Guardiola can’t overlook the 34-year-old when it comes to picking his strongest club XI.

He was tasked with battling Kylian Mbappe at the 2022 World Cup and held up admirably, even if Les Bleus progressed at his side’s expense.

England have incredible options at right-back in the modern age and it’s a testament to Walker’s longevity that he’s still ahead of the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier and Reece James in the pecking order.


CB: John Terry

Wayne Bridge, John Terry

Terry was noted good pal Wayne Bridge / Stewart Kendall/Allstar/GettyImages

Chelsea legend John Terry was a hard-as-nails defender during his heyday, often throwing his head at the fiercest shots to protect his goal.

A mainstay in the Three Lions team for nine years, Terry racked up 78 appearances at international level and was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 2006.

His off-field – erm – exploits did a fair bit of harm to the England setup, but there’s little doubt that he has a better defensive legacy than modern-day alternatives John Stones and Marc Guehi.


CB: Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand

Ferdinand scored at the 2002 World Cup / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

He might be more familiar to fans for screaming ‘Ballon d’Or’ during the Champions League final or very respectfully not walking on Real Madrid’s badge in a totally unscripted video for his social media, but there wasn’t much to criticise Rio Ferdinand for during his playing career.

The former Manchester United defender is viewed as one of the first archetypal modern centre-backs, boasting the pace to match rapid strikers and a continental coolness on the ball.

He formed a strong partnership with Terry before their relationship became non-existent after the Chelsea man allegedly racially abused Ferdinand’s brother, Anton.


LB: Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole

Cole is one of the greatest left-backs of all time / Stewart Kendall/Allstar/GettyImages

Luke Shaw provided one of the great England moments in recent memory when he opened the scoring in the Euro 2020 final before things went south, but he isn’t at the same level Ashley Cole operated at during his playing career.

The former Chelsea and Arsenal left-back rarely put a foot wrong on the international scene, shutting down a young Cristiano Ronaldo during Euro 2004 with a masterful performance that wasn’t out of step from his regular outings at club level.

Whereas other England stars from the Golden Generation clearly didn’t pull their weight, that accusation can’t be levelled at Cole.


DM: Declan Rice

Luke Shaw, Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Harry Maguire

Rice has become a leader in England’s midfield / Frank Augstein – Pool/GettyImages

Declan Rice isn’t an out-and-out defensive midfielder, having shown his lung-bursting desire to get into the box first with West Ham United and now Arsenal.

However, England’s Golden Generation failed to function without a destroyer in the middle of the park and Rice’s tenacity and desire in defence may well have helped get the best out of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

The former Chelsea youth product has the chance to build an international legacy greater than those two aforementioned greats and, given the rate that he has improved at, only a fearless fan would bet against him doing so.


CM: Steven Gerrard

Sol Campbell, Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole

Gerrard scored some iconic goals for England / Ross Kinnaird/GettyImages

A one-club man in the Premier League, Steven Gerrard so often pulled England through poor performances with a match-winner from distance or a gut-busting display in midfield.

The former Liverpool star captained the Three Lions in 38 of his 114 international appearances, playing at three European Championships and three World Cups, with his first goal for his country arriving in the memorable 5-1 thumping of Germany in 2001.

His managers could never work out the balance alongside the next midfielder, but Gerrard was so often a driving force for England and a player who could always be relied upon to deliver.


CM: Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard

Lampard was robbed of a goal at the 2010 World Cup / Clive Mason/GettyImages

Oh god, Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the same midfield? We’re doing this again, are we? It famously didn’t work the first time!

Whether the notoriously incompatible duo would function with a deep-lying Rice is another question entirely, but Lampard’s quality as a box-to-box goalscorer surely would have been just as evident in the modern game as it was back in the 2000s and 2010s.

The Chelsea legend was one of few players who could come away from the 2010 World Cup debacle with a semblance of credit, having a legitimate goal not given in the last-16 exit to Germany, and is England’s joint-tenth highest men’s goalscorer with 29 in 106 matches.


AM: Jude Bellingham

Jude Bellingham

England have very high hopes for Bellingham / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Jude Bellingham is still in the infancy of his career but has already achieved so much. His performances at the 2022 World Cup displayed a maturity well beyond his years and he has since become a superstar thanks to a breakout debut campaign with Real Madrid.

The former Borussia Dortmund ace is already one of the first names on the team sheet and his neat close control, dynamic playing style and knack for sniffing out goals has hopes high that he can finally lead England to a second major international trophy.

Bellingham has become a leader of the current squad at only 20 years of age and showed in the 2024 Champions League final that he can perform when it matters most.


ST: Wayne Rooney

David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes

Rooney was a beast at Euro 2004 / Sportsphoto/Allstar/GettyImages

For a long time, Wayne Rooney was the player responsible for hauling England through qualifying campaigns to reach international tournaments. It rarely worked out on the big stage and he wasn’t always innocent, but being the nation’s top scorer for a good eight years counts for a lot.

The former United forward was a phenomenon during Euro 2004, bullying the likes of France, Switzerland and Croatia with his searing strength, surprising strength and ruthless finishing.

He was the country’s poster boy for a long time and played a large role in removing damaging cliques from what was at times a toxic dressing room atmosphere.


ST: Harry Kane

Harry Kane

Kane’s England legacy is undeniable / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

Harry Kane wasn’t always destined for greatness, but he took chance after chance when he was presented with him and has since become England’s leading goalscorer across both men’s and women’s teams.

The former Tottenham Hotspur striker was a ruthless finisher at the start of his career but has since added layers to his game the likes of Michael Owen and Emile Heskey could only dream of.

He ended up missing a crucial penalty in the 2022 World Cup exit to France but Kane will be hungry to make amends with a bucket-load of goals in Germany.

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