You'd imagine that Alex Ferguson would shell out £15m to reverse the ageing process and make Gary Neville 20 again. But who else joins the Manchester United legend on this list of English right-backs...
It’s a good job Alf Ramsey won the World Cup as a manager because he appeared in some poor England performances as a right-back. He started when the three lions went down 1-0 to the USA in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, and the last of his 32 caps came in the 6-3 drubbing by a Hungary side containing Ferenc Puskas at Wembley. Despite those and a criminal lack of pace, Ramsey’s positional sense, distribution and spirit saw him Captain England on a number of occasions and make over 200 appearances for Spurs between 1949-55.
A member of the Royal Navy in WWll, Staniforth worked as a milkman while playing for Stockport County between 1946-52 and only got his break when he followed manager Andy Beattie to Huddersfield. Came to prominence in 1954 when, following a fine season for the terriers, he won all eight of his England caps, three of which came in the 1954 World Cup. Tall and elegant, Staniforth combined the grace of a winger with the tenacity of a full-back.
Once described as one of the greatest coaches in world football, Donald Howe made his name as a dependable wing back for West Brom and, all-to-briefly, Arsenal. Rugged in the tackle and not afraid of bombing forward, Howe made 23 appearances for England between 1957-59 including all four games at the 1958 World Cup
In one particularly fiery Manchester United press conference , an incensed Alex Ferguson asked the assembled reporters, “how many f*cking caps have youse lot got?” “43,” came the reply from Jimmy Armfield at the back of the room. Spent his whole career at Blackpool playing over 600 games, captained England on 15 occasions and was voted ‘Best Right-Back in the World’ at the 1962 World Cup. Only missed out on a place in the 1966 squad due to injury.
One of the first true attacking full-backs, Cohen and Ray Wilson made up for England’s lack of width in the 1966 World Cup, with Cohen setting up Bobby Charlton’s winner against Portugal in the semi-final. His only memorable contribution in the final was a block that bobbled across the box and led to West Germany equalising. Made over 450 appearances for Fulham and was voted at right-back when Channel 4 conducted a poll to find out England’s greatest ever Xl. Also remembered as the man stopped by Alf Ramsey from swapping shirts with the Argentines.
Reinvented himself as the best-crosser of the ball at Manchester United after Beckham left, loved a tackle, awful moustache and could fill in at centre-half when needed.
The most decorated full-back in English history, Neal won eight league titles and four European Cups in an 11-year Liverpool career and also made 50 appearances for England, the second most amount of caps for a right-back after Gary Neville, and his form limited Viv Anderson to 30 caps. Unlucky to be playing in an era when England failed to qualify for anything meaningful, he was kept out of the side for the miserable 1982 World Cup by Mick Mills.
Made his name as a left-back for Ipswich but was constantly switched by England in a ten-year period. Skipper for Ipswich in their legendary UEFA Cup winning side that lit up the 70s and 80s, he had to contend with Phil Neal, Trevor Cherry, Viv Anderson and Kenny Samson at international level, but when captain Kevin Keegan was unfit, Mills was made captain and edged out both Anderson and Neal. Gained 42 England caps and made over 700 career appearances for Ipswich, Southampton and Stoke City.
Nothing flashy about the Everton and Rangers man but he was arguably the best right-back in the league in the 80s. Finally made his England debut in 1985 and made the position his own until the 1990 World Cup, when he lost it to Paul Parker (who isn’t on this list because he was sh*t). Peerless at the 1986 World Cup and one of the only players Maradona didn’t skin, yet the beginning of the end started when he got roasted by Ruud Gullit in the 1988 European Championships.
The one that got away. 8 caps is scant reward for a player of Jones’ ability and had it not been for a succession of debilitating injuries that eventually ended his career, him and Gary Neville could’ve been involved in a fascinating tussle for the number two shirt. Better going forward that Neville and with the ability to play of the left, if he had a weakness it was sometimes being caught out of position, but his pace usually got him out of trouble.
What else can be said about Red Nev that hasn’t been said? Reinvented himself as the best-crosser of the ball at Manchester United after Beckham left, loved a tackle, awful moustache and could fill in at centre-half when needed. Memorably destroyed by Edmundo in the World Club Cup but apart from that and the odd rick, he was as dependable as they come over 20 years. Never scintillating for England, but if Glen Johnson could defend as well as Neville he’d be the best right-back in the world. His true worth was proven when Danny Mills had to play at the 2002 World Cup due to Neville being injured. Danny Mills at a World Cup, we still shiver now…
Click here for more stories about Manchester United
Click here for more Football and Sport stories
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook