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Friday, 08 February 2013

Why Royal Mail's Dream Team fails to deliver the goods

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Royal Mail has assembled its Home Nations dream team to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Football Association. Legends of the game like Bobby Moore, George Best and Denis Law all feature in the special stamp collection, but eyebrows have been raised at some of the names who have missed out.

Here at Squarefootball we are going to select an alternative Home Nations dream team, although ultimately some names will remain the same.


This is the team selected by the Royal Mail with World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks in goal, with England and West Ham's 1966 captain Bobby Moore in defence alongside Scotland's Dave McKay and the Gentle Giant from Wales John Charles.

In midfield they have gone for John Barnes, Bryan Robson, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law with George Best, Jimmy Greaves and Kevin Keegan up front.

Not a bad team I must admit, but I think we can make it a bit better.

The Home Nations Dream Team - Squarefootball alternative

In goal we're going for Peter Shilton. The former Leicester City, Stoke City and Nottingham Forest keeper played a record 125 times for his country and won the First Division title and two European Cups. He started his career at Leicester City and he even replaced Banks in goal for the Foxes at the tender age of 16. He played international football for 20 years and made more than 1,000 competitive appearances in the league. Although Banks was great and won the World Cup, and will forever be remembered for that save from Pele in the World Cup in 1970, I think Shilton deserves his place.

In defence we have to stick with Bobby Moore. The West Ham and England captain was a class act on and off the pitch and 47 years on remains the only English captain to have lifted the ultimate prize in world football. Nobody could read the game better than Bobby.

Alongside him we're going for former Aberdeen and Scotland captain Willie Miller. The hard-hitting defender took no prisoners on the football field and led the Dons to glory at home and abroad during the 80s. Described by Sir Alex Ferguson as the best penalty box defender in the world, Miller made a record 588 appearances for Aberdeen and won 65 caps for his country.

Completing the back three is former Wolves and England captain Billy Wright. The first player in the world to have represented his country 100 times, Wright was a model professional and won admiration from fans across the board. He played in three World Cups, won three league titles with Wolves and lifted the FA Cup. Billy Wright deserves his place in this team.

In midfield, let's start with a proper legend of the game Sir Stanley Matthews. The former Stoke City and Blackpool player remains the only footballer to have been knighted while still playing. Mind you, Sir Stanley did play at the top level until he was 50! The Wizard of Dribble was a great example of what you can achieve if you look after your body and practice, practice, practice. Why Sir Stanley never made the Royal Mail side I'll never know because he always delivered.

England's World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton also has to star in this team. Sir Bobby survived the Munich air crash to win the two biggest prizes on the planet and is England's all-time record goalscorer. The former Manchester United ace had a ferocious long-range strike on him and made 106 appearances for his country. Nobody can deny him his place in this team.

Joining Sir Stanley and Sir Bobby in midfield will be the Welsh Wizard Ryan Giggs. The Manchester United winger has played at the highest level for 23 years and is one of the most decorated players in the history of the game. He has won 12 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and two Champions Leagues amongst countless personal accolades along the way. Giggs may not have the pace he once had but he can still hurt teams with his vision and finesse.

Completing the midfield is Scotland's Jim Baxter. The former Glasgow Rangers ace was another player who had his problems with the bottle but he will always be remembered as one of Scotland's greats. His performances against England in 1963 - when he scored both in a 2-1 win - and in 1967 when Scotland beat the World Cup winners at Wembley 3-2 are the stuff of legend. Nobody north of the border will ever forget the way he taunted and teased the England players that die.

Up front, let's start by keeping Manchester United's George Best. The Northern Irleland star was another hero who lit up the English game but whose candle burnt out far too soon. The Fifth Beatle lived his life to the full and could beat any defenders. Unfortunately he couldn't beat his addiction with alcohol. On the pitch he was sublime. He could waltz past players, always tried to stay on his feet under a heavy challenge and scored some wonderful goals. As they use to say, Maradona good, Pele better, George Best.

Now the Royal Mail went with England's most natural goalscorer of all time Jimmy Greaves meaning the man who took his place in the World Cup final in 1966 Sir Geoff Hurst missed out. Now this is a tough call. Greaves was a goal machine. He scored 44 times for England in just 57 appearances. That is an unbelievable ratio. But then Sir Geoff is the only man to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final. Both men pulled on the famous claret and blue shirt of West Ham, but I think I would have to stick with the Royal Mail on this one. Greaves may have missed out on England's greatest day, but he was by far England's greatest striker.

Completing the team is Liverpool and Scotland legend Kenny Dalglish. The King replaced Keegan at Anfield in 1977 having won it all north of the border with Celtic and was soon collecting medals galore on Merseyside. He won six league title, four League Cups, three European Cups, two FA Cups with Liverpool and is Scotland's most capped player with 102 caps and shares the record for most goals with Denis Law. No team would be complete without King Kenny.

So there you have it. This is Squarefootball's alternative to the Royal Mail dream team.

So what do you reckon? Have we come up with a better starting XI or has the Royal Mail got it spot on? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.


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Colin Illingworth



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