Isolation gives you time to reflect and as I hear the number 19 so much  thought which footballers have worn the number?

Every week I will rank players from 10-1 based on the fact they wore the number at one time.

Criteria will not totally be based on performances while wearing the number for the club or country but on personal opinion, talent (potential and fulfilled) and honours in the game.

The first in my series centres on those who’ve worn the number while playing for ENGLAND.

Shout outs to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Harry Winks, James Maddison, Mason Mount & Jadon Sancho who missed out mainly due to their age but  am sure if this list was written in 5 years they will be listed. Jack Wilshire, Joe Cole & Emile Heskey were close but with all 3, the one bonding factor is they never truly fulfilled the promise or ability they had.

10 – Peter Crouch

When I discovered he wore the shirt he was always nailed on for this spot, the guy made the most of every opportunity that came his way. Overachieving would be his specialist subject on Mastermind. His football ability was good but more akin to a standard championship striker but his x factor was his gangly frame. With teams veering towards sole strikers Peter was a different option rather than run the channels you could play ball into him, it would stick and then he would let the skilled players take over.

9 – Jamie Vardy

Only 3 players in this list have won the Premier League so Jamie was always a cert to be included! A defenders nightmare with his direct, pacey play but the lad can finish which was why he won Premier League Player of the Year when Leicester won the title. It’s a shame he never hit the heights for England but his retirement will prolong his top flight career as he climbed a mountain to just get to the elite level. The one star player who stayed on after the league winning season will go down as one of Leicester’s best ever players, his loss of form this season coincided with the teams dip in fortunes.

 

8 – Les Ferdinand

Seeing Sir Les play live really gave you an appreciation of what he did, a complete and utter beast of a player. The total striker, he nearly led Newcastle to a league title but he did win the Player of the Year whilst at the club. Only 1 League Cup win to his name which is a shame and despite playing for 2 of the countries biggest teams he must hold regrets he never won more. He must have been on Man Utd’s hitlist in the 90’s? England was not short of striking talent during his best years but Les was always at least a squad member.

7 – Marcus Rashford

22 years old and he’s already won 3 club competitions including The Europa League plus played in 2 international tournaments. I feel he is taken for granted domestically by fans and the media. Electric pace, ankle breaking skill and finishing of the highest level. I would compare him to Henry and he will surely lead all the talent at England’s disposal to major honours over the next 10 years.

6 – Ray Wilkins

During the 70’s and 80’s Ray was one of England’s best midfielders, his range of passing kept the teams he played for in possession of the ball more often or not and led to him even playing in Italy for AC Milan. A couple of league triumphs for Rangers at the end of his career gave his trophy cabinet a much deserved boost. If he played today he’d have been utilised in the holding midfield role more for his ball retention rather than break up play.

5 – Michael Carrick

Never hit the heights for England like he did  for Man Utd, totally underrated by so many fans. He is easily the most decorated player within this list, 5 Premier League wins and a Champions League medal! Very much in the mould of Ray Wilkins but with a modern day feel, not many players of his elk are 6 feet 2 inches and as mobile. Total Rolls-Royce of a footballer.

4 – Colin Bell

Before Man City had billions of sheikh money or even Georgi Kinkladze was born, Colin was the hero for the blue half of Manchester. From midfield he is still their 4th top goalscorer of all time, his energy & athleticism would wear opponents down enabling him to get in scoring chances. With all the analysis these days heaven knows the kilometres Bell put in, surely a hybrid of Lampard, Gerrard & Kante?

3 – John Barnes

His influence over the top flight from the mid 80’s to the early 90’s was only halted by the sickening achilles injury in 92. Deceptively fast he lost his pace and from then on switched from a game changing winger to a holding midfielder. He was a number 10 playing out wide, when Liverpool needed a spark he always produced. Like a few players over the years England bosses did not fully appreciate him, no more apparent by his lack of game time in the 86 World Cup but when he played he almost turned the game against the eventual winners Argentina.

2 – Paul Gascoigne

Should be the number 1 based on his talent but Gazza was never the same after the 91 Cup Final injury, that being said his renaissance during Euro 96 almost took us all the way. During a 3 year window when he was at his peak he was the amazing. His performances while suffering with a niggling muscle injury to drag Spurs to a cup final was special to live through. If Tottenham had not been in such financial ruin at the time and the move to Italy did not occur maybe he could have been left to rehabilitate in an environment less distant from his loved ones. That being said he was a ticking time bomb.

1 – Raheem Sterling

This man has so much more to offer on the pitch but already he is a 2 time premier league winner and his countries most lethal weapon. When he came onto the scene pace was his key skill but now after learning from Pep he is a forward the world game takes notice of! Man City rely on 3 men to perform and he is in that honoured list along with KDB & Aguero. His importance to the modern game is also illustrated off the pitch these days after a rocky start, his words and actions now match those of a role model.

Please feel free to comment on these standings and my next list will be Champions League number 19’s.