England football fans enjoyed their team’s performance at 2018 World Cup as the Three Lions surpassed all expectations prior to the tournament by reaching the last four. A noticeable trend from the 23-man squad which travelled to Russia showed that many of the players grew up in the north of England, and Yorkshire in particular was very well represented. An interesting bit of information that got us thinking, which regions in England produce the best footballers?
When trying to answer this question there are obviously many things to consider and there is no definitive way of coming up with a true answer, but perhaps a good best place in order to engage the debate is to take a more detailed look at the squad which represented England in the most recent major tournament, World Cup 2018.
This squad included the best 23 players in the country according to manager, Gareth Southgate. While fans are sure to disagree with some of Southgate’s choices, many of the players were pretty much nailed on to make the final cut long before the deadline to submit the team came to pass.
Looking at the England World Cup squad geographically, one thing became apparent immediately and that was the number of players from the north of the country. Of the 23 players selected to travel to Russia, 15 of them can consider themselves to be northerners.
A closer look shows six of the players come from Yorkshire and it was this county which had the largest representation of players in the successful England squad at the World Cup.
Central defenders, John Stones and Harry Maguire are both originally from Yorkshire, with Stones beginning his career at Barnsley and Maguire with Sheffield United. Both players were born in Yorkshire and came through the academy of their local clubs before moving to the Premier League and their current clubs, Manchester City and Leicester City.
Another key member of England’s defence who was born and raised in Yorkshire is Kyle Walker. Despite rising to prominence during his time in London with Tottenham Hotspur, Walker was born in Sheffield. Like Maguire, Walker came through the Sheffield United academy before catching the eye of top Premier League clubs.
Having developed into a great attacking right-back at Spurs, Walker made a big money to move to Manchester City.
In addition to the three players highlighted above, Danny Rose, Fabian Delph and Jamie Vardy all come from Yorkshire. These players only had a small part to play for England but come together to make Yorkshire the most successful region in England for producing footballers in terms of the 2018 World Cup squad.
By analysing the infographic above, there is a group of three footballs in the London area and they represent Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Interestingly, while Yorkshire has produced the most players, many of them are defenders while in London, we have arguably England’s two current best attacking players.
Kane won the Golden Boot as he finished top goal scorer at the 2018 World Cup. He has won the Premier League Golden Boot twice and been voted the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year. Kane is arguably the best striker England have produced since Alan Shearer and was the first Englishman to finish top scorer in the Premier League since 1999/2000 when winning the award in 2015/16.
Sterling was born in Jamaica but moved to London at the age of five. He started his career in the Queens Park Rangers youth team before coming to prominence at Liverpool. Sterling has enjoyed great success with his current club, Manchester City, winning the Premier League title and has become a vital member of the England team under Southgate.
Moving back up north and Lancashire also had a large representation of players in the 2018 England World Cup squad. Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck, Kieran Trippier, Jesse Lingard and Phil Jones are all from Lancashire.
Trippier and Lingard were the two top performers at the World Cup, both finding the back of the net. Trippier scored a great free-kick to open the scoring in the semi-final against Croatia and has cemented his place as the first choice right back for his club and country.
Marcus Rashford shone for England in the recent Nations League game against Spain, scoring a goal and setting up Sterling with a lovely weighted pass. With Rashford still just 20 years of age at the time of writing, the Manchester United forward could go on to win many trophies and individual honours.
Finally, the infographic shows two football icons at the top right of England and these represent goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and central midfielder, Jordan Henderson. Both players started their career with the Sunderland youth team and now play on Merseyside with Everton and Liverpool respectively.
However, in terms of first-team England internationals, Yorkshire is the region in England which produces the best footballers – at least for now.