Teddy Sheringham on why Paul Gascoigne is the greatest player he ever played with, Darren Anderton is world class, and how Harry Kane could be up there with Alan Shearer
Sheringham pulls no punches picking his star team
Goalkeeper: David Seaman
David Seaman all day long. I really like Joe Hart, but Seaman was world class. Joe is just off that level at the moment. I played against Seaman for years for different clubs and I’d take a shot and think to myself, that’s a goal, easy. But Seaman would save them, and not only that but he’d save them comfortably. That’s what you want as a player from your keeper. You need to know that he’s a formidable force between the sticks.
Right Back: Gary Neville
Gary Neville was a young lad in Euro 96, he was only 21 but he had an old head on his shoulders. I like both Kyle Walker and Nathanial Clyne for different reasons, but in a positional sense Neville gets the nod. You know what you’re getting with Neville. He’s very aware of players around him, he had a decent delivery, and nobody ever really ripped him back in those days.
Centre Back: Tony Adams
Chris Smalling is really improving as a Manchester United player and I don’t think centre-halves really find their best form until their touching 30 years of age. Smalling is still 26 and continues to learn. The concern for me is that there’s nobody at Man United who Smalling is learning from. When Tony Adams came on the scene he was playing alongside Steve Bould and David O’Leary and he would be learning from these professionals and picking up key attributes of a central defender. Smalling is in a United squad at the minute where he is expected to be the lead centre-half – and at this stage he’s nowhere near that. I played with Tony Adams at under-17 level and he seemed experienced then. He learnt very quickly as a young man and his positional sense was fantastic. He was a proper leader as well and you’d know he’d die for you and the team. You knew you were in for a tough battle if you were facing Adams.
Centre Back: Gary Cahill
Gareth Southgate wasn’t the quickest but he very rarely got beaten in a one-on-one situation. His defensive awareness was exceptional. I like Gary Cahill’s mentality and his experience will be key for Roy Hodgson’s relatively young side. I’m opting with Cahill marginally in this XI, but only because I’m starting to feel sorry for the 2016 team!
Left back: Stuart Pearce
Stuart Pearce had stature about him. He was 34 years of age in 1996 and knew what his game was about. He scared people, you couldn’t get past him, and he was a true leader. Danny Rose is an exceptional talent and he’s improved massively at Tottenham this season. He’s got a great engine but positionally he’s a little bit more gung-ho. That’s the way Mauricio Pochettino likes him to play at club level, and he has a little bit more licence to get forward, but you want to know your full-back isn’t going to get beaten. For that reason it has to be Stuart Pearce.
Defensive Midfield: Paul Ince
I’ve been very impressed by Eric Dier this season and Mauricio Pochetinno is really getting the best out of him at Spurs. In terms of presence on the pitch however, you have to give the nod to Paul Ince. Dier is only 22 now, and in 1996 Ince was coming into the squad as an experienced 28-year-old who had played at top clubs like Manchester United and Inter Milan. Dier’s youth has its advantages, however I’d have to give the nod to Ince as the holding midfielder.
Attacking Midfield: Paul Gascoigne
Dele Alli has been so impressive this season, it’s been phenomenal to watch. He’s taken everything that’s come his way in his stride. He was banned for doing something stupid against West Brom near the end of the season, but we’ve all done bits and pieces like that. We wouldn’t have necessarily been pulled up for that in my playing days, but the cameras are everywhere now. There’s no problem with him getting reprimanded for something like that as long as he learns from it. The game is changing and you can’t get away with it anymore, simple as. He’s a fantastic player though, and when he doesn’t play Tottenham and England miss him.
In this scenario however he’s up against the greatest English talent in decades. Gazza is the best player I’ve ever played with hands down. He’d do things in training and in games that you wouldn’t believe if you hadn’t seen it with your own eyes, and he probably wasn’t even at his best in Euro 96. At World Cup 1990 (before he ruptured his cruciate ligaments in the 1991 FA Cup Final) he was phenomenal. He had a great attitude, he was a young lad learning fast, but he had immense power on a football pitch. Dele Alli has impressed me to the point where this decision is actually quite close. The 1996 Gazza was probably waning slightly and that makes it a tough call.
Right Midfield: Darren Anderton
No comparison here between Darren Anderton and whoever Roy plays on the right, whether it’s James Milner or Raheem Sterling. Anderton is easily in the top five players I ever played with in my career. I had an understanding with him that was just telepathic. You come across it once or twice in football where you just have an understanding with each other, and Anderton and I clicked. He would put the ball where I wanted it before I even had a chance to move into that position. We had seven years together at Tottenham and England and I was delighted every time we were on the team sheet together. He could use both feet, he could cross and shoot, he had a good engine – he was a class player. Sterling is quick but his end product isn’t consistently good enough, while James Milner is very hard working and knows his game, but Darren Anderton can’t be budged out of this XI.
Left Midfield: Adam Lallana
Steve McManaman was different class at Liverpool for a lot of his career. He didn’t have the best end product but he wasn’t really in the team for that. You gave him the ball because you’d know he could keep it, run with it and bring play forward. He was very clever at making sure the opposition couldn’t get the ball and that gave us all a breather. Adam Lallana is an eye-catching player who is enjoying his football and is improving. He has an eye for goal and probably has a better delivery than McManaman. They’re similar types of players but Lallana edges it on the left.
No. 10: Wayne Rooney
I can’t pick myself ahead of Wayne Rooney. No way. Rooney is the all-time England goalscorer and he’s an unbelievable presence on a football pitch when he’s firing on all cylinders. Rooney needs to be hunting people down, nicking the ball off them, and being aggressive all over the pitch because that’s when he is at his absolute best. Rooney needs to be on the edge again.
No. 9: Harry Kane / Alan Shearer
Harry Kane is the closest thing England have had to Alan Shearer since he swapped his Three Lions jersey for the pundit’s sofa. Shearer had had a couple of injuries before the 1996 tournament came around but he was a powerhouse. He was someone who wanted to be aggressive and lead the line. Harry Kane has everything for me and is playing at the top of his game but even so, Shearer is up there with Jurgen Klinsmann in terms of my best ever centre-forward pairings. Harry Kane bagged 24 goals in the league this year and has picked up the Golden Boot so that makes this a ridiculously tough call. Shearer won the Golden Boot in Euro 96 and Kane could easily do just that this time around if everything falls into place for England. I can’t choose between them!
The Gaffer: Terry Venables
One of the two best managers I’ve ever played for alongside Brian Clough. He had an aura about him and he had a way of making people feel comfortable, whilst also getting his point across. Everyone knew exactly what they had to be doing on the football pitch. Venables gave you freedom, he gave you confidence, and he made you feel 10ft tall. He took the pressure of you while also making you hungry to perform well for the national side.
- So the Best XI is dominated by members of the Euro 96 team – Do you agree? Get stuck into the debate over on Twitter with @PaddyPower
- Or dive straight into the latest Euro 2016 betting over this way