Who is the greatest England left-back of all time?
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Which one of these five players is England’s greatest left-back of all time?
Ray Wilson (1960-1968)
Wilson was part of the 1962 World Cup side in Chile, and played in all three group games and England’s elimination in the quarter finals to Brazil. Wilson was the oldest member of the England team in the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany. Wilson kept his place as England progressed through the qualification process for the 1968 European Championships, ultimately going out in the semi finals and finishing third overall. Wilson’s 63rd and final England cap came in the third-place play-off against the USSR. At the time of his final cap, he held the record for the highest number of appearances for an outfield player without having scored a goal, a record since broken by Gary Neville and Ashley Cole.
Kenny Sansom (1979-1988)
Sansom is the second most capped England full-back, having appeared 86 times for his country. He starred for England in Euro 1980 in Italy. He was a regular starter playing in the 1982 World Cup, in which England exited in the second group phase. He was the first-choice left back for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, playing in all of the matches up to and including the quarter final defeat against Argentina. His record of 37 consecutive appearances between May 1984 and April 1987 has only been bettered by Billy Wright and Ron Flowers. Sansom was first-choice left back for the 1988 European Championships, but England lost all three of their group games.
Stuart Pearce (1987-1999)
Replacing Kenny Sansom as left-back for England, injury prevented Pearce from playing in the 1988 European Championship. Pearce played at the 1990 World Cup, setting up a goal for David Platt in the quarter-final win against Cameroon before missing a penalty in the shoot-out against West Germany after the match had ended in a 1–1 draw. Pearce stayed in the side into Euro 1996, scoring a penalty in a quarter-final shoot-out against Spain, which England won. He repeated the feat in the semi-final shoot-out against Germany, which Germany again won. Pearce ended his international career in 1999 with 78 caps, which for a time put him in the all-time top ten appearance makers for England.
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Phil Neville (1996-2007)
Neville played for England 59 times between 1996 and 2007, representing the nation at three European Championships. He could play in defence or midfield; due to this versatility, he operated in a number of different positions throughout his career, but was most often used as a full-back. Despite having been in the England squad at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 European Championships, and having 59 England caps, Neville was never in an England World Cup squad. Neville’s England career included the honour of being the youngest member of Terry Venables’ squad for Euro 96, though he never kicked a ball; he was one of the players omitted at the last minute by Glenn Hoddle when he was selecting his final 22 for the 1998 World Cup. Keegan played Neville at left-back in Euro 2000, was left out of the 2002 World Cup squad but was back in the squad for Euro 2004. After missing out on selection for the 2006 World Cup, Neville returned to the England squad with new manager Steve McClaren and started at right-back against Andorra. He was not called up after 2007.
Ashley Cole (2001-2014)
Cole played at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups, as well as Euro 2004 - where he was named as one of four England players in the all-star squad for the tournament - and Euro 2012. He was voted England Player of the Year in 2010. When he retired from international football in 2014, he had won 107 caps, making him England’s most capped full back.