England's youngest World Cup winner, Alan Ball, picks his team as The
England's youngest World Cup winner, Alan Ball, picks his team as TheFA.com continues to search for the ultimate all-time England line-up.
Alan Ball was just 21 years old when he ran the Germans into the ground during the 1966 World Cup final.
Sir Alf Ramsey famously said the midfield terrier had "covered every blade of grass" that famous afternoon at Wembley, and he went onto win 72 England caps - his final match coming in a 5-1 victory against Scotland in 1975.
Not surprisingly, Ball names six of the 1966 squad in his ultimate England XI. Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore, Ray Wilson and Bobby Charlton all played in the final against West Germany while Jimmy Armfield and Jimmy Greaves were in Ramsey's 22.
Greaves, of course, missed out after suffering an injury earlier in the tournament even though he had recovered for the final.
"He was one of the greatest goalscorers you would ever wish to see in your life. I think he would have been in the final had it not been for the injury.
"I spoke recently at the launch of his new book in London and it was a privilege."
Ball was a central midfield dynamo but picks the sophisticated talents of Johnny Haynes as playmaker in his team. "I was always in awe of people who could always select exactly the right weight of pass," says Ball.
"Johnny Haynes was the best - he could hit passes long or short, square or diagonal. So many times I've seen him unlock defences with a cute pass."
Ball also finds room for his first ever captain at Blackpool - Jimmy Armfield.
"Jimmy had a great engine, he would be up and down the field all game."
ALAN BALL'S ULTIMATE ENGLAND XI:
Goalkeeper - Gordon Banks (1963-72) 73 caps, 0 goals
Made football's most famous save when he scrambled across the goal-line and twisted his body to tip over a point-blank Pele header at the Mexico World Cup. Bobby Moore's immediate response 'next time, catch it' has become part of the game's folklore. Won the World Cup and kept 35 clean sheets for England.
Right-back - Jimmy Armfield (1959-66) 43 caps, 0 goals
An elegant defender who could use the ball, Armfield was a loyal one-club man with Blackpool who went to the 1962 World Cup and was also a member of the 1966 squad as understudy to George Cohen. Fans still hear him as a Radio 5 summariser
Central defender - Bobby Moore (1962-73) 108 caps, 2 goals
They said he couldn't run, head or tackle but his reading of the game was so outstanding he never had to. The only England captain to lift the Jules Rimet trophy, Moore received a hug from Pele after the two enjoyed a titanic struggle in the 1970 World Cup.
Central defender - Billy Wright (1947-59) 105 caps, 3 goals
The first name on the England teamsheet for more than a decade, Wright made history by becoming the first international to pass the magic 100 caps. His marriage to pop star Joy Beverley of The Beverley Sisters was the 1950s equivalent to Posh & Becks
Left back - Ray Wilson (1960-68) 63 caps, 0 goals
One of Sir Alf Ramsey's heroes of '66, Wilson oozed class and had been a Wembley winner two months before the World Cup - with Everton in The FA Cup. Started his career as a forward which explains why he usually looked comfortable on the ball
Winger - Stanley Matthews (1934-57) 54 caps, 11 goals
Football's first knight, Sir Stan was known as the Wizard of the Dribble and was famous in all four corners of the globe before the advent of colour television, let alone the internet. As a teenager he helped England beat World Cup holders Italy and he went onto become his country's oldest international at the age of 42.
Midfield - Johnny Haynes (1955-62) 56 caps, 18 goals
Haynes was regarded as the best passer of his generation. Fulham valued him highly and after the maximum wage was abolished in the early 1960s, Haynes became the game's first £100-a-week footballer
Midfielder - Duncan Edwards (1955-57) 18 caps, 5 goals
Many shrewd judges believed Edwards was destined to be England's best ever player when he was tragically killed in Munich at the age of 21. He combined power with skill and was the greatest of Manchester United's Busby Babes, happy in several positions.
Winger - Tom Finney (1947-59) 76 caps, 30 goals
No lesser an authority than Bill Shankly regarded Finney as the best player he had ever seen. For a wide player, his goalscoring record was phenomenal. Nicknamed The Preston Plumber, he was twice voted Footballer of the Year in 1954 and 1957
Striker - Jimmy Greaves (1959-67) 57 caps, 44 goals
Greaves is third in the all-time England scoring list and played far fewer matches than the two ahead of him, Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker. Scored six hat-tricks for his country, including a treble in the famous 9-3 win against Scotland in 1961. Injury sustained during the 1966 World Cup saw him miss England's glory
Striker - Bobby Charlton (1958-70) 106 caps, 49 goals
The only Englishman who was as popular worldwide as The Beatles in the 1960s. Everyone loved Bobby from his comb-over hairstyle to his unfeasibly hard shot. Survived the Manchester United Munich air crash to have a glittering career, winning the World Cup and finishing with a record 49 goals for England
TOTAL VOTES SO FAR (after 5 nominations)
5 - Stanley Matthews, Bobby Moore
4 - Bobby Charlton, Bryan Robson, Tom Finney
3 - Gordon Banks, Duncan Edwards, Jimmy Greaves
2 - Jimmy Armfield, George Cohen, Paul Gascoigne, Johnny Haynes, Alan Shearer, Peter Shilton, Ray Wilson, Billy Wright
1 - Roger Byrne, Neil Franklin, Geoff Hurst, Gary Lineker, Michael Owen, Stuart Pearce, Kenny Sansom, Des Walker
Alan was talking to Joe Bernstein
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