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East Midlands Greatest All-Time Team

Gary Lineker

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Greater London
North East EnglandNorthWest England.
West MidlandsSouth West England
South East EnglandEast of England
Black English players
United Kingdom World Cup 1970
United Kingdom World Cup 1982
England 1974
Yorkshire and Humber
England After 1966 All-Time Team
Nottingham Forest
Leicester City

The East Midlands is one of nine official regions of England at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. It consists of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire (except North and North East Lincolnshire), Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland. The region has an area of 15,627 km2 (6,034 sq mi), with a population over 4.5 million in 2011.

Leicester City, Notts Countty, Derby, Nottingham Forest, Lincoln FC are located in this area.  Notts County F.C. is the world's oldest professional football club, with Nottingham Forest F.C. being the oldest football league side after Notts County's relegation to the National League in 2019. Sam Weller Widdowson brought in shin pads in 1874. The first referee's whistle was at Nottingham in 1872.

This is my selection of a 23 member all-time team for players born in East Midlands.  All players are selected according to their place of birth.  I have also created an all-time team foEngland.
Mark Hatekey and Steve Hodge
GK: Ray Clemence (Lincolnshire)
Ray Clemence was considered one of England's greatest keepers. He won 3 European Cups and 2 UEFA Cups in the 1970's with Liverpool and the 1984 UEFA Cup with Tottenham Hotspurs.  He was voted as Liverpool's greatest keeper.  For the national team, he was locked in a battle of number 1 with Peter Shilton.  He was Shilton's backup at the World Cup Finals in 1982. He made 61 appearances for England between 1972 and 1983.
Ray Clemence 
GK: Peter Shilton (Leicester)
Peter Shilton is considered one of the greatest keepers ever.  He is England's all-time cap record-holder with 125.  He earned his first cap in 1970 and his last 20 years later in 1990.  He took England to 4th place in the 1990 World Cup.  He played for 11 different clubs in his career, all in England.  He won two straight European Cups in 1979 and 1980 with Nottingham Forrest. He was PFA Players' Player of the Year: 1977–78, an award rarely won by a goalkeeper.

GK: Sam Hardy (Derbyshire)
Sam Hardy was discovered by Liverpool FC after playing against them with Chesterfield, Sam Hardy joined Liverpool in 1905.  Later, he played for Aston Villa. He was capped 21 times, which was then an astonishing number and was widely considered to be England's first ever star keeper. 

RB: Phil Neal (Northamptonshire)
Phil Neal was the great right back from Liverpool between 1974 and 1985. He was one of England's most decorated player, winning 4 First Divisions, 4 League Cups, 5 FA Charity Shields, 4 European Cups, 1 UEFA Cup and 1 UEFA Super Cups. He also played for Northampton Town and Bolton Wanderers as a full back. Neal also had a long career with England winning 50 caps and playing in the 1982 World Cup and the 1980 European Championship.

RB: Viv Anderson (Nottinghamshire)
In 1978, Viv Anderson became the first Black player to play for the English senior national team. He would earn 30 caps between 1978 and 1988.  He was on two World Cup team: 1982 and 1986, and two European Championshiop team: 1980 and 1988. He was a part of Brian Clough's Nottingham Forrest team that won back-to-back European Cup in 1979 and 1980.  He also played for Arsenal, Manchester United and and Sheffield Wednesday. 

CB: Dave Watson (Notthinghamshire)
Dave Watson played for Notts County, Rotherham United, Sunderland, Manchester City, Werder Bremen, Southampton, Stoke City, Vancouver Whitecaps and Derby County as well at the England national team where he won 65 caps. He played in the European Championship in 1980, but he never played in a World Cup Finals. He remains the most-capped England player never to play in a World Cup finals match.
 Dave Watson 
CB: Gary Cahill (Derbyshire)
Cahill joined Burnley on a season-long loan, where he performed well before returning to make his Aston Villa debut. He played with Sheffield United and Bolton Wanderers before Cahill signed for Chelsea in 2012.  He won the UEFA Champions League in his debut season. Cahill is an England international with over 60 caps and went the World Cups of 2014 and 2018, and the  European Championship in 2012 and 2014.

CB: Russell Osman (Derbyshire)
Russell Osman spent 11 seasons with Ipswich Town from 1976 to 1985 during the club's greatest period, winning the UEFA Cup in 1981.  He also played in the Football League for Leicester City, Southampton, Bristol City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Cardiff City. Osman played senior international football for England, for whom he received eleven caps.

CB: Graham Cross (Leicester)
Cross spent most of his career playing for Leicester City originally as an inside forward, then later as a centre-half and occasionally a right half. At Leicester he holds the record for the most appearances for the club with 599 between 1961 and 1975. He went on to join Brighton & Hove Albion and then Preston North End. He also represented Leicestershire as a right-handed batsman and a right-arm medium-fast bowler between 1961 and 1977.

LB: Ray Wilson (Derbyshire)
From 1952 to 1964, Wilson played for Huddersfield.  In 1964 Wilson joined Everton, by which time he had played 30 times for England, and remains to this day Huddersfield's most-capped England international.  For England, he would win 53 caps in total and was a starter at the WC Finals in 1966 in which England won.  He played in the 1968 European Championship where England reached the semifinal.
 Ray Wilson 
LH/LB: Ernest Needham (Derbyshire)
Needham played for Sheffield United from 1891 to 1910. He was instrumental in their promotion campaign of 1892–93 and then captained their team from 1895 to 1905. Under his captaincy, United won the First Division in 1898 and the FA Cup in 1899 and 1902. With 16 caps, he was the first Sheffield United player to captain the England national side. 

CM: Jermaine Jenas (Nottingham)
Jenas made his professional debut at age 17 for Nottingham Forest who were playing in the second tie. He was named PFA Young Player of the Year for the 2002–03 season while playing for Newcastle United.  Later, he played for Tottenham betweem 2005 and 2013.  He had 21 caps.  He was unused player at the 2006 World Cup Finals.

CM: Steve Hodge (Nottingham)
Steve Hodge joined his boyhood club Nottingham Forest as an apprentice in 1980 and helped the club to reach the semifinal of the UEFA Cup.  He also played for Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspurs and Leeds United. Capped 24 times fro England.  He went to both 1986 and 1990 World Cup Finals. He exchanged shirt with Diego Maradona after the infamous quaterfinal match vs Argentina in 1986.
Steve Hodge
CM: Ben Warren (Derbyshire)
Warren began his playing career with Derby County in 1899.  Playing at half-back, though he could also fill in at inside forward, Warren was known for his hard but fair tackling.  He later played for Chelsea between 1908 and 1911.   An knee injury sustained while playing for Chelsea led to a decline in his mental health.  He died of tuberculosis while still an inmate of the asylum in 1917. He had 22 caps and 2 goals, one of which came during England's first overseas tour.

RH/FW: Alfred Strange  (Derbyshire)
Strange began his career at Portsmouth and then, Port Vale.  He moved to Sheffield Wednesday in February 1927. He spent eight years with the club, helping Wednesday to win the First Division title in 1928–29 and 1929–30. He ended his professional career at Bradford Park Avenue.  He played 20 times for England.  In 1930, he was on England's European tour, captaining the side against France.

RH: Willie Edwards (Derbyshire)
Willed Edwards started with Chesterfield in 1919.  Between 1919 and 1943, he played with Leeds United, during which time he was never booked or sent off.  He played for them during the war years. Edwards was capped by England on 16 occasions. His first cap was against Wales on 1 March 1926. He captained England in his last five internationals, with his final appearance on 20 November 1929.
Willie Edwards
LW: Eric Houghton (Lincolnshire)
Between 1927 and 1946, Houghton played for Aston Villa, scoring 170 goals in 392 games.[2] (The total including wartime matches was over 200 goals.) He finished his playing career at Notts County. He also won 7 caps for England. His formidable and powerful shot was regarded as the hardest shot of his era.  He is a member of Aston Villa Hall of Flame.

FW: Harry Cursham  (Notthinghamshire)
Harry Cursham began his career in 1877 with Notts County. He became a regular in the Notts County team, frequently appearing alongside his brother, Arthur Cursham. He holds the individual goalscoring record for the FA Cup, with 49 goals in 44 games. He also played eight games for the England national football team, scoring five goals between 1880 and 1884.

ST: Emile Heskey (Leicester)
Emile Heskey made a name for himself when he helped Leicester Town to win the League Cup in his first professional season in 1997. In 2000,  Liverpool signed him for a club record fees at the time. He left Liverpool in 2004. He later played for Wigan, Birmingham City, Aston Villa, Newcastle Jets, etc.  Internationally, he played 62 times for England.  He went to four major tournaments from 2000 to 2010.
Emile Heskey 
ST: Gary Lineker (Leicester)
Gary Lineker was one of England's best goal poachers.  He scored 48 goals for England(second overall) and won the Golden Boot with 6 goals at Mexico 1986.  He also played in the 1990 World Cup Finals. He was the PFA Players' Player of the Year in 1985–86 and FWA Footballer of the Year in 1985–86 and 1991–92.  In England, he played with Leicester Town, Everton and Tottenham Hotspurs. He also played for Barcelona FC in Spain.

ST: Tony Woodcock (Nottinghamshire)
Woodcock broke into the Forest first team in 1976–77, helping the team to promotion to the First Division. Under Brian Clough, Forest went on to win the First Division title and Football League Cup in 1978 (Woodcock winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award that year as well), and the European Cup in 1979. In 1986, he joined FC Köln in 1979 and later played for Arsenal.  Capped 42 times and went to Spain 1982.

ST: Mark Hateley (Derbyshire)
Mark Hateley made his name with Coventry and Portsmouth before moving to AC Milan in 1984.  He played with AS Monaco before moving to Rangers in 1990. He won both SFWA and PFA Players of the Season for the 1993-1994 season. He won six league titles. He earned 32 caps, and went to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico 1986 and the European Championship in 1988.

ST: Tinsley Lindley (Nottingham)
Lindley was an amateur who did not wear football boots but scored 14 goals for England in 13 internationals. Lindley was given an O.B.E. in January 1918 for his work during World War One and in 1935 he was also awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal.   He played his entore career with Nottingham Forest.  It has been claimed that he holds the record for scoring in 9 consecutive England matches between 13 March 1886 and 7 April 1888. However, there is no substance whatsoever to this claim.
Tinsley Lindley

Honorable Mention 
Joe Bradford, Ted Hufton, Chris Woods, Roy Goodall, Willie Hall, Dave Thomas, Steve Whitworth, Jermaine Pennant, Sam Weaver, Ernie Hart, Harry Cursham. Mick Jones. Andy Cole, Eddie Clamp, Fred Spiksley, Chris Sutton, Jack Robinson, Chris Kirkland, Dion Dublin, Tom Huddlestone.

Honorable Mention
-- Dave Watson, Ray Clemence, Tony Woodcock and Phil Neal were on England's Euro 1980 team.  Dave Watson did not make it to the 1982 World Cup team, but the other three went to Spain.
-- Peter Shilton, Steve Hodge, Gary Lineker and Mark Hateley went to the 1986 World Cup Finals.  Lineker and Hateley started together in the first two matches, but Hateley was dropped later in the tournament.
-- Peter Shilton, Graham Cross, Gary Lineker and Emile Heskey are on my Leicester City All-Time team.
-- Jack Robinson, Ernest Needham, Harry Cursham, Ben Warren, Charlie Athersmith and Tinsley Lindley played in the 19th Century. Sam Hardy actually started his career in 1903.  I also included two pre-war players, Alfred Strange and Eric Houghton.  Only three players played in the Preimership era. So this must be my oldest blog team.
-- Ray Clemence and Peter Shilton needed no introduction.  Sam Hardy were probably the greatest goalkeeper in the pre-War period alongside Jack Robinson. So I left off Jack Robinson, Chris Woods and Joe Hulme.  I also have Ted Hufton on the list.
-- Roughy about twenty-something defenders from East Midlands have played for England.  So the pool is very small.  
-- The rightback position is very strong.  I took Viv Anderson and Phil Neal. Even Roy Goodall could not make the team.  The pair was known as great rightbacks at their time.  
-- On the left, I selected Ray Wilson from the 1966 World Cup Finals. Ernest Needham was a left-half, a position I considered to be a wingback in the modern game.  He was one of the game's early star players.
-- The centerback position is more difficult to select.  Gary Cahill and David Watson were strong candidates.  Russell Osman was one of Bobby Robson's key defenders during his time with Ipswich in the early 1980's.  I was a fan of the club at the time.  I cannot really find anyone standing out for the fourth centerback.  Wes Morgan who was born in East Midlands decided to play for Jamaica.  Peter Daniels was known for his career with Derby, but played mainly behind  Roy McFarland and Colin Todd.  Steve Chettle and Graham Cross are club legends. In the end, I went with Cross.  Cross is the all-time appearance record holder for Leicester, a local club.
-- During my research, I found many midfielders from the pre-war era.  So I took two modern players Steve Hodge and Jermaine Jenas to balance the team.  Hodge was probably remembered for playing against Diego Maradona at the famous 1986 World Cup quarterfinal matches.  He exchanged shirts with Maradona.
-- Jack Robinson, Ben Warren, Harry Cursham and Tinsley Lindley played in the 19th Century.  It was too long ago.  I did not know how to rate them.  Lindley had good goal-to-matches ratio for England on paper, but his scoring streak for England was not verified. He might not have scored 9 straight matches for England.  Nevertheless, I felt that he deserved a place.. There are plenty of information on Charlie Athersmith. He was an early star of Aston Villa. 
-- I feel sorry for Ben Warren after hearing his story.  After suffering a long injury, Warren suffered a mental breakdown and was admitted to a lunatic asylum.  Did I take pity on him because of his life story? Let's say at the time of research I could not really decide who to pick among the pre-war players.  There are limited information on the players.  So I was looking at different angles for my selection.  Upon learning his story, I could not get him out of my head.  Besides, he did play in the first overseas of England.
-- Joe Bradford supposed to be a good player of his time, but I went with modern attackers  because I have more informations on them.  
-- I do not need to explain the inclusion of Gary Lineker, do I?
-- Gary Lineker probably should have won the 1986 Ballon D'or award.  That year, the award remained as European Player of the Year.  It was the year that no one stood out.  Igor Belanov won it for his performance at the 1986 World Cup Finals, where he scored 4 goals and one of each was a stunning goal against Belgium.  Dynamo Kyiv also won the Cup Winners' Cup.  Lineker finished as the Golden Boot at the same World Cup Finals.  He was the top scorer in English league while winning both PFA and FWA Player of the Year.  However, Everton was trophy-less that year.  Emilio Butragueño was third because of Real madrid capturing the UEFA Cup as well as his 4 goal performance against Denmark in the World Cup.  The three candidates, I thought, was very close.
-- Mark Hateley was one of the few English footballers to find successes playing overseas. His career with AC Milan was injury ridden, but he did reasonable well with AS Monaco.  He also played for Glasgow Rangers.
-- I took Emile Heskey and Tony Woodcock over Andy Cole because they appeared in bigger international tournaments for England.  Cole never played in a World Cup Finals or European Championship.
-- Emile Heskey earned 62 caps for England as well as winning a League Cup with Leicester  City, a local club.
-- I did consider taking Andy Cole over midfielder Jermaine Jenas. Andy Cole definitely had a more decorated club career than Jenas.  No one can doubt his contribution  to Manchester United's triple crown  in 1999. However, the team has too many right-halfs from the pre-War eras.  I might need another central midfielder.

I would have started Mark Hateley with Gary Lineker if this combination worked out in the actual 1986 World Cup Finals. Instead, I started Tony Woodcock.  He scored more goals than Emile Heskey for England.

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