Chelsea legend Joe Cole spent nine years playing for the England national team, racking up 56 appearances and scoring ten goals.
The midfielder played alongside some of the biggest and best names of his generation. He also appeared at four major tournaments.
One of his finest moments in an England shirt came in the 2006 World Cup. He opened the scoring in the group stage match against Sweden. Cole chested the ball down from around 35 yards out and volleyed directly into the top corner.
Cole certainly has many fond memories of playing for the national team. Since he retired from international duty in 2010, a new crop of England players has been shining at an international level.
SPORF spoke to Cole at the launch of the Pokemon Youth Futsal Cup. We asked him to pick a combined England XI, comprising players from the past 20 years.
Here is the team that he chose:
Joe Cole’s combined XI
Cole’s XI (3-5-2): David Seaman (GK); Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole; David Beckham, Phil Foden; Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Mason Mount; Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane
Manager: Gareth Southgate/Glenn Hoddle
Cole: “I think that would be a pretty decent team. Look, I’m leaving out absolute legends that will pop in my head, and I’ll regret it.”
“Gareth Southgate and Glenn Hoddle as a combination [for manager]. The two best England managers of the last 30-40 years.”
David Seaman had a 14-year international career and featured in four major tournaments.
Perhaps his finest summer as England goalkeeper was at Euro 96 when he famously saved Gary McAllister’s spot-kick in the 2-0 group stage win over Scotland.
He then saved another spot-kick in England’s penalty shootout win over Spain in the quarter-finals. Seaman was later named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.
His last appearance for England was in 2002, and he ended his international career with 75 caps.
Cole: “The best English goalkeeper I’ve ever seen. Not by a country mile – we’ve had some great goalkeepers. David James is an honourable mention. But David Seaman was fantastic.”
As one of the greatest defenders in the Premier League in the 2000s, Rio Ferdinand was an indispensable member of the England squad for much of his international career.
He appeared at two World Cups – injuries prevented that figure from being higher – and captained the side in 2008 and 2010.
Ferdinand recorded 81 caps for England, scoring on three occasions.
John Terry was capped 78 times by England during a nine-year international career, scoring on six occasions.
He appeared at four major tournaments and was an essential part of the England backline throughout his career. Terry also spent time as England captain before being stripped of the responsibility.
He retired from international football in 2012, shortly after the conclusion of that summer’s European Championships.
Ashley Cole made history in 2013 when he became the first England full-back to reach 100 caps.
Arguably the most outstanding full-back in the world for club and country during his prime, Cole was an ever-present in the side for most of his international career.
In 2010, he was named England Player of the Year.
With an international career spanning 115 caps and 17 goals, one of David Beckham’s greatest England moments came in 2001 against Greece.
Everyone who can remember the moment knows precisely how this one goes. England need an equaliser in the dying moments to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. They have a free-kick. Who else to give it to but David Beckham? And the rest, one stunning free-kick later, is history.
By the time he ended his international career, he had held the record for the most England appearances by an outfielder. Wayne Rooney later broke the record.
Cole: “This is a tough one, whether I go for a natural right-wing back or whether I go with someone who is a natural winger. I’ll go with David Beckham as a right wing-back – balance.”
Having made his England debut in August 2020, Phil Foden featured in three games for his country at Euro 2020.
Foden’s international career thus far has been promising. He has two goals and one assist from 11 games and has featured in various positions. Cole put him in at left wing-back. The 21-year-old has a very bright future.
As Steven Gerrard’s midfield partner on so many occasions, Frank Lampard was equally capable of putting in solid performances for England.
He ended his international career with 29 goals in 106 caps and scored three goals at Euro 2004. In 2009, he struck six goals in a single calendar year before being involved in *that* ghost goal against Germany at the 2010 World Cup.
Like Gerrard, Lampard retired from international football at the end of the 2014 World Cup, captaining the side in his final game.
Steven Gerrard scored 21 goals in 114 England appearances during his international career, which spanned between 2000 and 2014.
As a leader, captain and goalscoring midfielder, there was probably no other player like Gerrard or Lampard in the setup. Arguably, there hasn’t quite been since.
Gerrard featured at five major tournaments and took on Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup captaincy. He retired at the end of the latter, bringing to a close a storied international career.
Mason Mount made his senior international debut in September 2019 and has become an important part of Gareth Southgate’s plans.
He has scored four goals for his country and provided four assists from 26 caps. Between October 2020 and June 2021, he made ten consecutive starts for his country.
At Euro 2020, he made five appearances, assisting Jordan Henderson’s goal in the 4-0 quarter-final win over Ukraine.
During his international career, Wayne Rooney broke record after record.
After bursting onto the scene at Euro 2004, England fans knew the nation had a gem on its hands. He struck four goals in four matches in the tournament.
Rooney featured at a further five international tournaments, captaining the side in two of them.
He ended his career with 120 caps (an England record for an outfield player). Rooney also netted on 53 occasions, making him England’s record scorer.
Harry Kane could well break Rooney’s record by the time the Tottenham striker ends his career.
Kane is currently on 41 goals for England from 65 caps. He became the first England player to win the Golden Boot at a major tournament since Gary Lineker in 1986 when he struck six goals at the 2018 World Cup.
He scored four times at Euro 2020 as England reached the final. Kane is the current national team captain.
Joe Cole is working with The FA and Pokémon to launch the Pokémon Youth Futsal Cup. To learn more about this season’s competition and Pokemon Futsal, head to www.mastertheball.com.
Featured Image Credit: Getty