England started 2002 with three recognised world-class players - Beckham, Owen a
Lion Watch: England started 2002 with three recognised world-class players - Beckham, Owen and Gerrard. By the time the World Cup had finished, Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell had truly made their mark.
At the end of the World Cup, FIFA selected their 16 best players; the squad that would represent Planet Earth if they had a local derby against Mars.
And alongside Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Oliver Kahn and the other galaxy of stars was one Englishman.
David Beckham? No. Michael Owen? No.
Step forward SOL CAMPBELL, who in the past 12 months has won the league and cup Double with Arsenal and followed it with an outstanding tournament in Korea and Japan.
While Rio Ferdinand rightly caught the eye with his distribution and elegance, Campbell's good old-fashioned qualities of defending - marking, heading and tackling - earned him his place in the FIFA squad.
"We studied the players closely and it was very close between Campbell and Ferdinand," said former Aston Villa manger Josef Venglos who was head of the panel which chose the team.
Campbell even scored England's opening goal in the World Cup - a thumping header against Sweden.
The compensation for RIO FERDINAND in 2002 was setting a new British transfer record just weeks after the World Cup. Like everyone else, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was impressed with Ferdinand's composure on the big stage and paid £30million to take him away from Leeds United.
The dream partnership between Rio and Man Utd hasn't really bore fruit yet with the defender suffering an unprecedented run of injuries, although he returned on Saturday against Birmingham. "It's been incredible, I haven't been injured so much in my entire career," says the frustrated Ferdinand who is now looking forward to a long unbroken run in the United team.
DAVID BECKHAM, BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2001 after his fantastic free-kick against Greece booked England their World Cup place, also had a frustrating time for much of 2002.
For a while, it looked as if he might miss Japan altogether after breaking a metatarsal against Deportivo La Coruna.
In the end, the talismanic skipper made it and even though his lack of match sharpness meant he was never at his best in Japan, he still provided the single best moment of the World Cup, driving in a penalty against Argentina. "Nobody knew how much that meant to me, particularly after what happened four years ago," said Beckham, who also opened the Commonwealth Games in Manchester this year.
MICHAEL OWEN is ending the year with a bit of a goal drought but he was England's top scorer in Japan, netting against Denmark and then the opener against Brazil.
It should also be remembered that he won the penalty against Argentina and was able to announce that in 2003 he is going to become a father for the first time. And he got England out of jail with a poacher's double late on in Slovakia which gave England a winning start to their Euro 2004 campaign.
STEVE GERRARD missed the World Cup because of injury but bounced back with a terrific draw in the Euro 2004 qualifier against Macedonia.
Unfortunately, DAVID SEAMAN conceded a goal straight from the corner in the same match to bring back memories of Ronaldinho. But the 39-year-old remains first-choice for Double winners Arsenal and Seaman clearly feels that if someone like Arsene Wenger believes in him, he should carry on as England's number one.
Compiled by Joe Bernstein.
Read TheFA.com later this week when the spotlight is thrown on the bright young things who could break into the England team in 2003.
ENGLAND PLAYERS' APPEARANCES AND GOALS IN 2002
Played 13 W4 D7 L2 F20 A13
- 38 players were used by England in 2002. Michael Owen made the most appearances (12)
- 9 players scored for England in 2002. Michael Owen had the most goals (6)
- Teddy Sheringham was king of the substitutes. He came off the bench eight times. Robbie Fowler scored twice as sub.
Beckham 9 - 3 goals
Campbell 10 - 1 goal
Ashley Cole 9
Joe Cole 1+6
Ferdinand 9 - 1 goal
Fowler +4 - 2 goals
Gerrard 5 - 1 goal
Heskey 11 - 1 goal
Murphy 1+3 - 1 goal
Gary Neville 4+1
Phil Neville +3
Owen 12 - 5 goals
Smith 2+1 - 1 goal
Vassell 5+4 - 3 goals
Own goal - 1 goal