Back of the Net Special – ‘The Greatest British Football XI Of All-Time’

by Ray_North on March 31, 2013

Back_of_the_NetLast week, once again, the Home Nations all struggled in their World Cup Qualifiers. Scotland lost to Serbia, Wales lost to Croatia, Northern Ireland were beaten by Israel and England limped to a draw against that mighty footballing nation – Montenegro.

Sadly, few of us are surprised by these results, because, let’s face it, we Brits are not very good at football. There I’ve said it and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. Save for a few giddy weeks in 1966, no British team have won so much as a bean at International football.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t produce the odd footballing great. No, quite the contrary, in our time, these fair isles have produced some gems, and as it’s Easter and all the North boys are eating chocolate eggs as though their lives depended upon it, and I have ten minutes of peace, I’ve decided to enter the realms of football fantasy (one of my favourite places), and imagined what kind of team I could muster if I could get together the greatest British footballers and put them together in my fantasy British XI.

My philosophy is attack. My formation is fluid, I’ll have a couple of holding midfielders to do the donkey-work for four attackers. What a team:

1. Gordon Banks (England) – tremendous goalkeeping legend, that save from Pele in the 1970 World Cup defies logic.

2. Danny McGrain (Scotland) – nuggety and fast full-back with a storming beard – badly missed by Scotland when he was injured before their bizarre 1978 World Cup Campaign.
3. Ashley Cole (England) – much as Cole epitomises everything that I hate about the modern game, Cole is, without doubt one of the greatest left backs in the world.
4. Billy Bremner (Scotland) – I would put Bremner in front of my back four and instruct him to win the ball and give it to others. I cant think of anyone who has played the British game who could do that better. Also responsible for the greatest fight in football when he and Kevin Keegan did genuinely go for it at Wembley in 1974.
5. Kevin Ratcliffe – I know there’ll be a few raised eye-brows at my selection of the former Everton and Wales captain, but, Ratcliffe was, in his day the best centre half in the country, possibly Europe. He was extremely fast, brave and good in the air. Also lives quite near me, which may have tipped the balance in his favour.
6. Bobby Moore (England) Captainimages-1 – first name on the team sheet, possibly the greatest player England have ever produced and probably the only Englishman who will ever lift the World Cup. Not quick (he’ll be helped by Ratcliffe), but, his reading of the game was so good that he didn’t need to be, his distribution was also superb – look at the pass for Hurst’s 3rd goal in the World Cup final of 1966.

7. Kenny Dalglish (Scotland) – my personal favourite player, Dalglish could do everything, he had vision, control, strength and a winning smile. In this team, he’d have a ball.
8. Bryan Robson (England) – I always liked Bryan Robson, he was the complete midfielder, he could tackle, could head, could shoot, could pass and had an engine that meant he could run all day. Crikey, imagine him and Billy Bremner in the middle of the park – fearsome!
9. Bobby Charlton (England) – although I’ve given him his England number 9 shirt, Sir Bobby Charlton was the perfect number 10,great vision and equally adept with either foot, he would sit behind my 2 main strikers, orchestrate everything around him and chip in with the odd thunderous goal.
10. Ian Rush (Wales) I wanted someone who I knew would put the ball in the back of the net. I toyed with Greaves, Hurst and Law (Law came very close), but at the end of the day, I’ve gone for Rushy (who also lives quite close to me), because his record of nearly 300 league goals was just amazing, as was his partnership with Kenny Dalglish. He was fast, hard working and lethal in the box. He’d score a hatful in this team.
11. George Best (Northern Ireland) images There had to be a place for Bestie, probably the greatest British player of all time, certainly the thirstiest. There was nothing Best couldn’t do, on or off the park. In this team I’d play him as a roving wing. Absolutely tremendous.

So there, 1 – 11, geniuses to a man, if only……..

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard March 31, 2013 at 10:13 am

you must live on The Wirralor near!


Ray_North March 31, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Not far away mate!


Charlie_East_West March 31, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Incredibly – I agree with the entire team!


Charlie_East_West April 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm

On second thoughts, the team is light on the left wing – so replace Bremner with Giggs, and Robson plays a bit deeper.

A subs bench featuring – Neville Southall, Gary Neville, Willie Miller, Graeme Souness, Rio Ferdinand, Gazza, Gary Lineker, Jimmy Greaves, Dennis Law and Gareth Bale.


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