Greater Manchester’s greatest ever England World Cup stars… and Wes Brown!

Throughout the years Manchester has built a reputation as one of world football’s spiritual homes, with United and City supported by a wealth of lower and non-league teams.

It would be easy to compile an all-time England XI consisting of players who have represented Manchester clubs – as MM did last week.

However, the whole of Greater Manchester has produced an embarrassment of footballing talents over the years.

This following England XI offers an insight into some of great footballers that the region has produced.


Formation: 3-5-2


Joe Corrigan (goalkeeper)

Appearances – 9 Goals – 0

His final cap coming in 1982, Manchester-born Corrigan still holds the honour of most international appearances made in goal by a Mancunian.

Making his name with Manchester City, Corrigan’s League Cup triumph in 1976 earned him a first England call-up against Italy, and while his appearances were only sporadic he made the cut for the 1982 World Cup squad.

While he was named as Manchester City’s Player of the Year three times, Corrigan’s England career never really took off – though it is widely believed his caps count would have been much higher were it not for the prowess of fellow keepers Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence. 


Gary Neville (right-back)

Appearances – 85 Goals – 0 (o.g. 2)

The Bury native holds the accolade of being England’s most-capped right-back, with 85 appearances between 1995 and 2007.

A regular for his country in Euro ’96, France ’98 and Euro 2000, though Neville missed the 2002 World Cup with a broken foot before returning to a first-team berth in time for Euro 2004.

After featuring in Germany 2006, Neville’s international career took an unfortunate turn in the qualifying stages of Euro 2008 when he put the ball into his own net against Croatia, becoming the only England player to have scored two own goals having never netted at the correct end.

Neville’s final international appearance came in 2007 before injury and the emergence of Glen Johnson curtailed his England career. He is now defensive coach in Roy Hodgson’s backroom staff.


Wes Brown (centre-back)

Appearances – 23 Goals – 1

Hailing from Longsight, Brown never really made much of an impact on the international stage – in contrast to his illustrious Manchester United career,  and is here through lack of Manchester-born defenders rather than merit.

Although he made his England debut in 1999 aged 20, Brown remained on the fringes of the squad and travelled to the 2002 World Cup – his only trip to a major international tournament – but did not get off the bench.

Having also missed out on Germany 2006, it can be argued that Brown’s form would have guaranteed him a place in Euro 2008, if only England had qualified, though he did score his only international goal that year in a friendly against Czech Republic.


Roger Byrne (left-back)

Appearances – 33 Goals – 0

Although far better known for his exploits as one of the legendary Busby Babes, Byrne also made a name for himself internationally, representing England 33 times consecutively under Walter Winterbottom between 1954 and 1957 – a record that still stands.

While the Gorton native was never considered an especially talented footballer, his on-field leadership qualities made him a natural rallying point for the team, so much so that he was considered as a successor to Billy Wright as England captain.

However, as has been well-documented, Byrne was prevented from ever being able to take on the role by his premature death in the 1958 Munich air crash, aged 28.


Nobby Stiles (defensive midfield)

Appearances – 28 Goals – 1

Brought into the set-up to solve England’s need for a ball-winner to compliment the attacking ability of Bobby Charlton, Stiles made his international debut against Scotland in 1965 before playing eight of the next nine games to confirm his place in the squad for the 1966 World Cup.

Collyhurst-born Stiles went on to play every minute of the campaign, with his stand-out performance coming in the semi-final against Portugal, a master-class in man-marking which stifled the prolific Eusebio – who went on to win the Golden Boot – and enabled England to progress to the final.

The next game of the tournament turned out to be defining, as England beat West Germany 4-2 in extra time and Stiles was photographed dancing at the final whistle with the Jules Rimet trophy while holding his false teeth – an image that is now recognised world-wide.


Mike Summerbee (right-wing)

Appearances – 8 Goals – 1

While Summerbee etched his name into the legends wall of Manchester City, ‘Buzzer’ was never able to transfer his league form onto the international stage.

Known for his combative nature as much as his proficiency, the Mancunian was an integral part of a Blues team who won four trophies between 1968 and 1970.

His performances earned his first England call-up in 1968 before boarding the plane for Mexico in 1970.

However, Summerbee was often distracted by the temptations that blighted footballers in the Sixties – namely alcohol and women – and failed to fulfil expectations for his country, lending an explanation to why such a talented player only accrued eight England caps.


Paul Scholes (centre midfield)

Appearances – 66 Goals – 14

The fifth Manchester United player to make the all-time England XI, Scholes made his debut in 1997 before scoring in his first World Cup match at France ’98 against Tunisia.

By the time he was 26, the Salford native had amassed 30 international caps and also the dubious honour of being the only England player to ever be sent off at Wembley, following a red card against Sweden in 2000.

Despite cementing his place in the England midfield for the 2002 World Cup, the subsequent emergence of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard caused manager Sven Goran Eriksson to play Scholes in an unnatural left-midfield role – one that eventually persuaded the Manchester United man to call time on his international career.

While there was sporadic talk of coaxing Scholes back into the national set-up from various England managers until his initial retirement from football in 2011, nothing ever materialised, and Scholes’ international career remains a study in what could have been.


Alan Ball (centre midfield)

Appearances – 72 Goals – 8

The youngest member of the 1966 World Cup-winning squad, Ball’s ability had brought him to the attention of Alf Ramsey a year earlier despite playing his league football with struggling Blackpool.

Farnworth-born Ball secured his place in the now legendary squad of ’66 when his England caps were still only in single figures, and went on to become one of the enduring names of the competition, not least helped by assisting Geoff Hurst’s controversial second goal in the final.

While the pinnacle of his international career may have come at the beginning, Ball’s industrious approach made him an England regular for the next nine years, both in the 1970 World Cup and England’s ultimately futile qualifying campaign for 1974.

Though his England career ended somewhat acrimoniously after Don Revie omitted him from the squad without contacting the player, Ball can count having captained his country on six occasions and being the last remaining member of the 1966 squad on the international stage on his extensive list of honours.


Peter Barnes (left-wing)

Appearances – 22 Goals – 5

Hailing from Manchester, Barnes made the first of his of 22 international appearances in 1977 aged 20 following a two-year spell with the under-21 side.

Despite featuring in the qualifying campaigns for the 1978 and 1982 World Cups, as well as Euro 1980 – in which he played five of eight games and notched one of his five international goals – Barnes never actually made it to any of the tournaments proper.

His final England appearance came in a friendly against Holland in 1982.

While his international career may never have fully taken off, he does hold the remarkable statistic of having played for 27 clubs across England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Malta and the USA.


Geoff Hurst (forward)

Appearances – 49 Goals – 24

One of the most revered names in English football, Sir Geoff Hurst’s status as a national treasure was cemented around the time that one of the most iconic lines in all of football was coined – ‘they think it’s all over, it is now’.

Although Hurst is mainly associated with east London club West Ham, he was actually born in Ashton-under-Lyne before moving to Essex with his family aged six and later joined the Hammers’ youth academy.

Somewhat fittingly, Hurst made his international debut against West Germany in 1966, though it was actually in a match prior to the now legendary World Cup campaign – he did not appear in the tournament proper until the quarter-final, following an injury to first-choice striker Jimmy Greaves.

A goal and an assist in the next two games persuaded Alf Ramsey to resist media pressure to reinstate the recovered Greaves for the final, a decision that came good as Hurst became the only player to ever score a hat trick in a World Cup final and England defeated West Germany 4-2 to lift the Jules Rimet trophy.

Hurst continued to feature for England for the next six years, including appearances in Euro ’68, the ’72 qualifiers and the 1970 World Cup, before his final game against – perhaps fatefully – West Germany in 1972.


Nat Lofthouse (forward)

Appearances – 33 Goals – 30

The Bolton Wanderers legend had already built a name for himself as one of the most prolific forwards in the country since his senior debut in 1946, but somehow did not claim his first England cap until 1950, at the relatively late age of 25.

Regardless, Lofthouse put on some intimidating displays for his country over the next eight years, including in the famous 3-2 victory over Austria in 1952 that earned him the nickname the ‘Lion of Vienna’, and travelled to Switzerland for the 1954 World Cup.

He won his final cap in 1958, and had he been given his chance at an earlier age, Lofthouse’s international record may have been even more significant.]

Despite ending his international career 56 years ago, Bolton-born Lofthouse still holds the best goals-to-games ratio of any England player.



Phil Neville, Lee Dixon, Stan Bowles, Nicky Butt, Francis Lee, Tommy Lawton, Brian Kidd, Danny Welbeck

Main image courtesy of England Football Official via YouTube, with thanks.s.

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