Where do England's footballers come from?
England’s World Cup dream is over following Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat by Croatia, but Gareth Southgate’s side have done the nation proud with their exploits in Russia this summer.
Ahead of Saturday’s third-place play-off against Belgium, we’ve looked back at Three Lions squads at every World Cup since 1950 to reveal which English counties have produced the most players. Here are the top 16…
Data credit: WhatShed
15= Nottinghamshire (7)
The whole of the Midlands has supplied just a single England player for the World Cup in Russia, with Derbyshire-born Gary Cahill flying the flag alone. Nottinghamshire has contributed to the cause in the past, though, most notably through Viv Anderson, who played at Spain ’82 and Mexico ’86.
Jermaine Jenas was part of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s squad in 2006 but didn’t get on the pitch, and two of Jeff Astle’s five England caps came at the 1970 World Cup. David Watson, incidentally, remains the most-capped England player never to play at the tournament, having racked up 65 appearances for his country.
15= Cheshire (7)
Jesse Lingard’s hometown of Warrington was historically part of Lancashire, but boundary changes in 1974 (18 years before the Manchester United man was born) saw it come under the jurisdiction of Cheshire.
Michael Owen is the northwest county’s most famous footballing son, having represented England at three World Cups in 1998, 2002 and 2006. The former Liverpool striker’s record of 40 international goals puts him fifth in the country’s all-time standings.
13= West Midlands (8)
Birmingham-born Joleon Lescott may have won 26 caps for his country, but the former Everton and Manchester City centre-back never appeared at a World Cup. Fellow Brummie Daniel Sturridge did in 2014, starting all three games as England crashed out at the group stage in Brazil.
Going further back, goalkeeper Gil Merrick started all of the Three Lions’ matches at the 1954 World Cup, helping Walter Winterbottom’s side into the quarter-finals.
13= Staffordshire (8)
Over 60 years on from his final international appearance, Stanley Matthews – the only active footballer to receive a knighthood – is still considered one of the most talented players the country has ever produced. Born and bred in Stoke, the winger spent 19 years of his career with the Potters and played for England at the World Cups of 1950 and 1954.
Bill McGarry and Dennis Wilshaw, two more of Staffordshire’s sons, also represented the Three Lions at the latter tournament in Switzerland.
9= Tyne and Wear (9)
Only five men have scored more goals for England than Alan Shearer, who found the net 30 times while representing his country – including twice at the 1998 World Cup. The Newcastle legend later passed the Tyne and Wear baton to Michael Carrick, who was part of the 23-man groups for Germany ’06 and South Africa ’10.
Current squad members Jordans Henderson and Pickford both hail from the northeast county, as does Chris Waddle, whose missed penalty in the 1990 semi-final shoot-out against West Germany proved decisive.
9= Suffolk (9)
Terry Butcher was born in Singapore to a father who worked for the Royal Navy, but most of his childhood was spent in Suffolk. A tough-tackling centre-back, the former Ipswich and Rangers stopper represented England at three World Cups in 1982, 1986 and 1990.
Ipswich academy graduate Kieron Dyer made three appearances at the finals in Germany in 2006, despite the fact he had only previously played 45 minutes of football under manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
9= Leicestershire (9)
Leicestershire’s Peter Shilton has won more caps for England than any other player, with 17 of his 125 appearances coming in World Cup action in 1982, 1986 and 1990 – an impressive record when you consider he only made his debut at the finals at the age of 32.
Gary Lineker, also born in the city of Leicester, is the Three Lions’ top scorer at World Cups with 10 goals, six of which came on his way to the Golden Boot at Mexico ’86.
9= Hertfordshire (9)
Perhaps the most contentious omission from Gareth Southgate’s travelling party for Russia 2018 was Jack Wilshere, the Hertfordshire-born midfielder who was part of Roy Hodgson’s squad for the previous World Cup in Brazil.
Ashley Young, a graduate of the Watford academy and another Stevenage native, ensures the southern county do have some representative in the current squad. And in the dugout too: Gareth Southgate, a member of England’s World Cup squads in 1998 and 2002, was born in Watford.
8. Hampshire (10)
The serious knee injury Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sustained in April felt particularly cruel in this of all years; not only did the midfielder miss out on a Champions League Final appearance, he was also denied the chance to play for England at the World Cup, just as he did in 2014.
The Portsmouth-born Southampton youth product is one of the 10 Hampshire-born players to have represented the Three Lions at the finals. Among the others are Darren Anderton (1998), Wayne Bridge (2002 and 2006) and Jimmy Dickinson (1950 and 1954).
7. Northumberland (12)
Bobby Charlton was born in Northumberland in 1937 and went on to become one of England’s greatest ever players – something that remains true today, almost half a century on from his final international outing. Both he and brother Jack both won the World Cup on home soil in 1966, before representing the country in Mexico four years later.
Before 2018, the closest England came to winning the tournament abroad was a run to the semi-finals in 1990, when Berwick-on-Tweed’s Trevor Steven was part of the squad.
6. County Durham (18)
County Durham has produced 18 World Cup players for England since 1950, the most famous of whom is probably Bryan Robson. The former Manchester United midfielder represented his country in 1982, 1986 and 1990, although injury limited his involvement in both of the latter two tournaments.
Other England internationals from the northeast county include Colin Bell, who was part of the squad at the 1970 World Cup, and Norman Hunter, who was a reserve in both 1966 and 1970.
5. Greater Manchester (23)
Kieran Trippier has arguably been England’s best player in Russia this summer, while the involvement of Danny Welbeck and Marcus Rashford means 13% of Gareth Southgate’s squad hail from Greater Manchester.
Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt – all members of Manchester United’s Class of ’92 – were also born in the region and represented England at World Cups. Former Red Devils midfielder Nobby Stiles went one better, helping the Three Lions win the tournament in 1966.
4. Lancashire (24)
Phil Jones is the only Lancastrian in the 2018 group, but the northwest region has supplied England with more World Cup players than all but three other counties.
The pictured Jimmy Armfield was one of them, excelling for his country at the 1962 World Cup before being an unused member of the victorious squad four years later. Roger Hunt, conversely, played all six of England’s games in 1966, while Alan Ball was one of the hosts’ most impressive performers despite being their youngest player.
3. Merseyside (28)
Merseyside has always been a footballing hotbed and it’s therefore no surprise to see the northwest county in the top three of this ranking. Trent Alexander-Arnold may be the only representative in the current World Cup squad, but the teenage full-back is a member of a 28-man strong group stretching back to 1950.
Jamie Carragher, Wayne Rooney, Robbie Fowler and Steve Coppell are among the 15 Liverpool-born players to have turned out for their country on the biggest stage of all (more than any other city), while Phil Thompson, Leighton Baines, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher were born elsewhere in Merseyside.
2. Yorkshire (40)
England’s starting three-man backline at this summer’s World Cup is flying the flag exclusively for Yorkshire, with John Stones (Barnsley), Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker (both Sheffield) all born within 20 miles of one another. The 2018 contingent is further bolstered by the presence in the ranks of Danny Rose (Doncaster), Jamie Vardy (Sheffield) and Fabian Delph (Bradford).
Sheffield-born goalkeeper Gordon Banks helped the Three Lions win the tournament on home soil in 1966, while Doncaster’s Kevin Keegan is one of only four Englishmen to have won the Ballon d’Or.
1. Greater London (62)
London dominates many areas of British life, serving as it does as the economic, financial, political and cultural hub of the UK. The county of Greater London has also supplied more of England’s World Cup players since 1950 than any other.
Current captain Harry Kane was born in Walthamstow in the north of the capital, while former England internationals from Greater London include Bobby Moore, John Terry, David Beckham, Jimmy Greaves, Kenny Sansom, Ashley Cole, Des Walker, Stuart Pearce, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand.
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