Whenever an international break comes along, pundits and media alike bemoan the fact that England do not have a player like Gazza. Gascoigne stole the nation’s hearts with his performances and personality during World Cup 1990. Many players will always quote him as the best player they have ever played with. I decided to look at the best players to have performed in an England shirt and make a shortlist.
England’s Best Player Since Paul Gascoigne
Exclusions From Shortlist
Firstly, I felt I should justify some of my exclusions. Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney struggled to replicate their club form for England. Rooney had a majestic Euro 2004 at the age of 18 but never hit those heights again. Lampard and Gerrard were never able to dictate games as they did for their respective clubs. David Beckham also struggled to perform in major championships, mainly due to injury, and Michael Owen, whilst magical in France 1998, did not hit those heights again. Harry Kane is still young and probably will top this list in the future if he is able to continue his current form.
Ashley Cole made a fantastic contribution to England and, for the majority of his career, was seen as one of the best left-backs in the world. 107 caps speaks volumes and he was always nailed on to play at left-back. Many will remember when he nullified Cristiano Ronaldo at his peak in the 2006 World Cup. He was the only player during poor tournaments to come out with any credit and could both attack and defend, which modern full-backs require.
Golden Boot winner at Euro 96 and many feel there was a stage where, at his peak, he was seen as one of the best strikers in the world. 30 goals in 63 caps and with goals in three major championships in big games, he also captained England and was arguably one of the best players at Euro 96, where his partnership with Teddy Sheringham was deadly. Retiring prematurely at the age of 29 may count against him as he did play on for six years after his retirement.
England have had some terrific centre halves during the modern generation but arguably, Rio with his pace and presence was the best of them all. Sol Campbell and John Terry will have pushed him with their clear ability. Rio was also able to bring the ball out of defence and proved to be a key factor in England having had a strong defence under Sven Goran Eriksson.
These were my three nominees and, just for his attacking prowess and ability to perform in major championships, Shearer would be my choice.