England v Wales: Who Has The Greatest Xl?

A football match that has its roots in historical repression and mutual loathing, England v Wales gets the mercury rising. But who has the greatest ever Xl?
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A football match that has its roots in historical repression and mutual loathing,  England v Wales gets the mercury rising. But who has the greatest ever Xl?


As outlined in this piece here, as I've grown older I have a curious relationship with both of these teams. However these players are the best I've seen play for England.

GK: Ray Clemence

If I'm being honest, this is purely down to club loyalties. Saying that, I do think Clem was a better keeper than Shilts and I don't care what anyone says about the quality of the German penalties in 1990, he should've saved one. 9

RB: Phil Neal

I appreciate Gary Neville as a footballer, but even if Phil Neal has shown himself to be a king pillock since retiring he was a blinding full-back who had more to his game than rat-boy in an attacking sense. 9

LB: Ashley Cole

This pains me hugely but what can I say? As a modern attacking full-back he's as good as anyone in the world and as long as I never, ever, have to speak to him again (long story) I'm happy to state he's the best left-back I have seen play for England. 9

CB: Terry Butcher

Adams, Campbell and possibly even John Terry might have been better centre-halves but, as a young kid, Terry Butcher was like a cartoon warrior to me. All bloody bandages, blood-curdling screams and heavy tackles. I used to have a poster on my wall of him and Mick McCarthy going head-to-head which scared my younger brother. 8

CB: Rio Ferdinand

When Rio plays for England against top opposition they look a better team. Calm, composed and a great passer of the ball, he could, if fit, still walk into any team in the world. 9

RM: David Beckham

I couldn't give a monkey's about everything else that surrounds sir David of Peckham because, on his day, he was a great footballer who made up for his limitations by both utilising his strengths and making the right decisions at the right time. If Lennon or Walcott had his ability in this sense they'd be world class. Struggled through injury at World Cups but carried England on enough occasions to be deserving of a near perfect score. 9

LM: Chris Waddle

Can't say, or take, a pelanty but I've loved wingers since I was a kid and despite me wishing the opposite, the Waddler was a much more consistent performer for England than John Barnes. That said, he didn't have morons jeering and racially abusing him. Only had one trick but skinned the world's best full-backs with ease. 8

CM: Bryan Robson

Until Cantona came along, Robbo was the only Manchester United player I could bring myself to like between the ages of 6-10. Champion drinker, cracking player and, so it seems, fraudulent thief. What's not to like? 9

CM: Gazza

Perhaps the purest idiot-savant in sporting history Gazza was also the closest England had to Maradona in terms of technique, chutzpah and outright madness. I’ve never owned an England football shirt but, if I did, it would probably be a replica of his Italia 90 one. 10

CF: Alan Shearer

There was no way on earth I could have Gary Lineker here, such is my pathological hatred of the jug-eared crisp thief based on a meeting in 2005. I’d also like to panel Shearer with his own forehead, but by Christ could he strike a ball and lead the line.9

CF: Wayne Rooney

An arrogant, thick, adulterous ingrate who is, essentially, a modern day version of Gazza. Beautiful to watch on his day and his use of space, close control and vision make him the only true world-class player in the current squad. Bet he’ll never play well at a World Cup. 9

Manager: Bobby Robson. Wanted to play attacking football and won stuff wherever he went in Europe. That’ll do. 9

England: 107

A half a chance, a shimmy of the shoulder, a German on his back but still he smashed it home on a half volley. What a goal-scoring machine.


1) Neville Southall

Best keeper in the world in his day..Everton fans still say that he was the reason for their title wins and was worth 15 points before a season started. Outstanding for his country he was the man who'd play Tom Jones in the dressing room before a game to get them all gee'd up. 9

2) Alf Sherwood

Called the 'King of Slide tackles' Stanley Matthews called him his most difficult opponent. A teak hard ex-Miner from the Valleys he was one of the quickest players off the mark and even a stand in goalie... famously saving a pen in front of the Kop at Anfield for Cardiff City. No one got past Alf. 9

3) Gareth Bale

A sensational modern player who's dynamite speed and athleticism going forward destroyed reigning European Champions 'Inter Milan' in their own back yard last year. A competent defender too, Bale poses a huge threat when he surges forward. Considered by many to be one of the most exciting young players on the planet. 9

4) Fred Keenor - Captain

Cardiff City captain when they won the FA Cup in 1927 and were the best team in the country people even today talk of Keenor with awe. A Somme veteran who once played for Wales when the English clubs stopped their players being released for a game against Scotland he captained a team of Amateurs at Hampden. The final score? 1-1. Called the 'Game of Keenor and the ten unknown's' the headline the following day in the Times was 'Scotland 1 Keenor 1' An inspiration, hard as nails and a 'die for his country' attitude that he learned in the Trenches he'd be the inspirational Captain of the greatest ever 11. 9

5) Kevin Ratcliffe

Part of the same great Everton team as Southall the two had an almost telepathic understanding. In his day considered the best Centre-Half in the world. Quick, strong and brilliant in the air he was the complete player. 9

6) John Charles

Bill Shankly described him as the greatest footballer ever. Pele famously said that in the '58 world cup Wales were the team to beat (they want on to hammer France and Sweden after scrapping past Wales 1-0 in the QF's). Charles was on the bench that game after being kicked mercilessly by the Hungarian. One of the best footballers ever to pull on a pair of boots... just ask Bill, Pele or anyone Italian. 10

7) Cliff Jones

Another star from '58 and part of the brilliant Spurs winning team of '61. Jet paced and lethal in front of goal he's still considered by Spurs fans their greatest ever winger. My Father goes all misty eyed when he talks about Cliff...telling me of a man who skipped over the turf like a thorough bred racehorse. Today he'd be worth 30million. 9

8) Ivor Allchurch

Not many players hold a place in a countries affections like Ivor Allchurch. Loved in Newcastle he had a gorgeous left foot that would bring balance to a midfield of him and Charles. Superb going forward he could also play wide and was a linkman in the days before Barca and the Dutch made it into football. A gentle man who would often apologise to opponents after scoring Ivor is loved across Wales in a way that transcended any club team rivalry. 9

9) Ian Rush

The greatest centre forward not just Wales but the UK ever produced. Prolific for the great Liverpool side he was Wales' top goalscorer ever at a time when we had no midfield. We all remember the goal against Germany when they were World Champions. A half a chance, a shimmy of the shoulder, a German on his back but still he smashed it home on a half volley. What a goal-scoring machine. And for one night we were the best team in the world and I was there. 9

10) Mark Hughes

Alan Hansen after facing Hughes and Rush at Hampden said in his book that it was the most complete forward display by two players he'd ever faced. Ankles like legs and legs like tree trunks he was perfect foil for Rush. Holding the ball up and laying it off beautifully. Fergie once famously said...doesn't matter where we were one look at Hughes' stone serious Celtic face and he knew they'd be all right.  9

11) Ryan Giggs

I seen his debut against Germany in Nuremburg and he was brilliant. A figure of some controversy as he began the trend of avoiding friendlies but it didn’t matter as we all knew that when he played he was our one truely World Class player during the lean years of the late 90's. Fast, full of goals and an inspiration when he played he joins a lethal front four. 9

Manager - Jimmy Murphy...the man behind Busby, the '58 World Cup and a Rhondda boy to boot. 10.

So there you go my Anglo Germanic half-breed friends. You thought we'd struggle didn’t you? But that's been our problem We've always had great players but it's getting them all together! But that side has grit, flair, pace, creativity and goals. I'd really fancy us to beat you...

Wales: 110

Final score 110 - 107

The pan-generational boyos graft to an impressive three point win over the last 30 years of Lions.

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