A new chapter will be written in the story of football’s oldest rivalry on Saturday when Hampden Park hosts the 114th meeting between Scotland and England.
The two sides no longer face off as a matter of course, with the annual British Home Championship having been abolished almost 30 years ago, but this will be the fourth meeting between the Scots and their Auld Enemy in under four years. And with the rivalry renewed, fans are sure to recall some of the magnificent clashes of years gone by which were graced by a number of the true greats to have played the game.
Scotland-England match-ups for time immemorial have showcased some rip-roaring action and incredible tension, but the individual talent on display has also been a massive draw. The likes of Billy Bremner, Jimmy Baxter and Dave Mackay for Scotland, Glenn Hoddle, Geoff Hurst and Kevin Keegan for England have all graced the stage over the years.
But in the week that Great Britain elected a new coalition government in politics, who would make it into a combined Scotland-England footballing XI drawn from the rivalry’s long history? Below, Goal completes the unenviable task of choosing a starting lineup.
A World Cup winner in 1966, GORDON BANKS remains the greatest goalkeeper in England’s history by some margin. A stalwart of 73 internationals, he will forever be remembered most for the iconic save he made to deny Pele in the 1970 World Cup after the Brazilian had shouted “Goal” as he headed what appeared to be a sure-fire opener. The sprawling Banks scooped the ball clear in what was a career-defining moment.
Arguably the greatest full-back ever to come from the British Isles, DANNY McGRAIN forged a wonderful reputation in the 1970s and 1980s with an all-conquering Celtic and a hugely competitive Scotland. Despite suffering from diabetes from early in his career, McGrain went on to captain Celtic after gaining a reputation for being one of the toughest defenders of his time. He even once played on despite fracturing his skull, such was his attitude to putting his body on the line.
Pele called BOBBY MOORE the greatest defender he ever came up against during his long career, and few would contradict the Brazilian legend’s view of England’s captain fantastic. The first truly glamorous icon to emerge from the game of football, Moore was as elegant and poised as any defender at the time but tough with it. The statue of him overlooking Wembley Way is a fitting tribute to the only Brit ever to lead a team to World Cup glory.
WILLIE MILLER was often claimed to suffer from that most British of ailments in not always producing his best football on the international stage, but for sheer quality at the back he still makes it in ahead of other contenders. Sir Alex Ferguson called Miller the “best penalty box defender in the world” for the way in which he blocked and tackled everything that came his way for two decades with Aberdeen.
One of the most iconic members of Celtic’s ‘Lisbon Lions’ of 1967, JIMMY JOHNSTONE had mesmeric ability on the ball at times as he owned many a right wing on the way to incredible club success. Pocketing 19 major trophies Johnstone with the Hoops, ‘Jinky’ also finished third in Ballon d’Or reckoning in 1967 too. For the Scots he was the go-to man, and memorably turned in a stand-out performance in the 1974 win over England.
A more uncompromising midfielder than GRAEME SOUNESS you could not wish to avoid. The most no-nonsense of characters, Souness garnered one hell of a reputation for himself in the 1970s and early 1980s but he had the ability on the ball to pull it off too. A part of three Scotland World Cup squads, the future Liverpool manager also won three European Cups with the English side.
There has simply been no greater talent in the English game over a period of many decades than PAUL GASCOIGNE. While his career took all sorts of twists and turns after he blasted onto the scene as one of the true stars of Italia 90, ‘Gazza’s tremendous ability must not be forgotten amidst the tears, the injuries, the lifestyle and the personal issues. He also scored perhaps the greatest goal ever in a Scotland-England clash when settling the Euro 96 match at Wembley.
STANLEY MATTHEWS was known as ‘The Wizard of Dribble’ thanks to his wonderful ability to have the ball stick to his feet when taking on opponents, and remains one of the greatest British players of any era. Pele once said that Matthews “taught us the way football should be played” and there can be no greater accolade. Matthews also carries the distinction of playing into his 50s, with his last England cap coming at the age of 42.
One of England’s true legends, BOBBY CHARLTON might have lost his scoring crowns at club and country level to Wayne Rooney in recent times but he remains a footballer of almost unparalleled quality. He recovered from the devastating blow of the Munich air crash to win a World Cup and a European Cup but more than that he had an amazing scoring record from attacking midfield and played with immense grace. Manager Alf Ramsey called him “the lynchpin” of his iconic side.
A Ballon d’Or winner in 1964, European Cup winner in 1968 and scorer of 30 goals in 55 games at international level, DENIS LAW is still the best player ever to pull on a Scotland shirt in many people’s eyes. Taking his place alongside Charlton and George Best in Manchester United’s ‘Holy Trinity’, Law was a master in the air and had the speed and nimbleness to score goals of sheer quality with great regularity.
The last truly great Scottish forward, KENNY DALGLISH’s feats in a national shirt can sometimes be forgotten against the backdrop of his God-like status in Liverpool. The little Glaswegian, known as ‘King Kenny’ on Merseyside, is Scotland’s most-capped player of all time with 102 appearances as well as sharing the scoring record with Law. With wonderful technique, admirable fearlessness and great grace, Dalglish was one of the true giants of 1970s and 80s football in Great Britain.