Nine national teams that currently boast a golden generation of talent ft. England, France…

Every now and then a crop of players comes along that you just can’t afford to waste.

Belgium have probably f*cked it if we’re honest (although that Doku lad’s got potential) but, as a wise man once said, every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

With the Euros looming and a World Cup creeping up on us like a stalking tiger, these nine nations will be putting all their eggs in these glittering golden baskets.


It really is time for this England squad to blossom. With an average age of 26, two strong tournament showings in the past three years (including coming within a penalty shootout of winning the last Euros), and arguably the world’s best player at this very moment, the Three Lions could not be better placed for success.

For the first time in decades, Gareth Southgate’s squad is stacked in attack. More high-quality number nines than he knows what to do with — there was no room for Dominic Solanke in the most recent squad despite a prolific Premier League season so far.

Also, unlike England’s previous ‘golden generation’, the left wing isn’t a barren wasteland being forcibly repopulated by bewildered central midfielders. Anthony Gordon, Marcus Rashford, and Jack Grealish are all very much at home out there.

The question marks are in defence. You’d fancy there’s a centre-back position next to John Stones up for grabs, and the goalkeeper spot is looking a little shaky. If Southgate can play to his players’ strengths, though, they can do anything they want to.

READ: The 25 highest-valued international squads according to Transfermarkt


You know who’s not short of elite centre-backs? Les bloody Bleus. Liverpool’s Konate, Arsenal’s Saliba, Bayern’s Upamecano, PSG’s Lucas Hernandez… good options.

France can’t afford injuries in midfield, as that’s the one area they’re looking a little light. Having said that: Tchouameni, Rabiot, Camavinga, Zaire-Emery, Griezmann… They’ll probably be fine.

Honestly, though, the lads from across the channel haven’t won the Euros since 2000 and, if Kylian Mbappe fancies it, it’s going to be tres difficile to stop them.


Portugal have a sort of tri-generational thing going on.

Pepe and Cristiano Ronaldo head into the Euros with a combined age of 80.

Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Neves, Palhinha, and Diogo Jota could all have been in the same maths class at school, if they’d all gone to the same school… And if it was a small school that shoves two or three year groups together. Whilst Joao Felix, Rafa Leao, Matheus Nunes, Diogo Costa and Diogo Dalot are all just a couple of years behind.

Then there are the kids. The ones you know because they’ve just spent a decade as a stalwart of your Football Manager save. We’re talking Antonio Silva, Joao Neves, Nuno Mendes.

A perfect mixture of aeons-long experience, key players in their prime, and youthful energy, all managed by… Roberto Martinez.



The concept of a golden generation is relative. Sometimes you just need a couple of stars to collide in the darkness and suddenly things are looking bright.

Norway haven’t had two genuinely world-class players simultaneously, well, maybe ever. Martin Odegaard and Erling Haaland are exactly that. If they don’t build their team around these two, they’re not serious people.

Manchester City’s 20-year-old Oscar Bobb will provide excitement on the wings. If they play to the best of their abilities, this could be a Norway side for the ages.


USMNT is in the best shape it’s ever been in. It’s also in a completely unfamiliar shape.

Historically, the US has boasted at least one really superb goalie, complimented by a smattering of players vaguely familiar to European audiences, and the best of the MLS. Right now, USMNT is inside out and upside down.

Goalkeeper is the one position that looks dodgy—Matt Turner has fallen down the pecking order at Nottingham Forest and Ethan Horvath is chugging along with Cardiff in the Championship. Almost every other position can be filled by somebody playing at the higher levels of European football.

With Folarin Balogun and Ricardo Pepi battling it out for the number 9 shirt, Christian Pulisic and Timothy Weah on the wings, and an industrious Serie A-based midfield behind them, we are definitely living through a golden age of American football—not that type of American football.

Cobi Jones celebrates after the FIFA World Cup match between United States and Portugal at Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon, South Korea, June 2002.

QUIZ: Can you name the USA XI that beat Portugal 3-2 at the 2002 World Cup?


Similarly to Norway, a golden generation for Ecuador doesn’t mean a world-beating starting XI and a bench full of game-changers. The South Americans currently boast Bayer Neverlosen’s Piero Hincapie at centre-back, Brighton’s Pervis Estupinan at left-back, and Chelsea’s Moises Caicedo running central midfield.

Add to that the experienced Enner Valencia up top, and Ecuador might just be on to something.


It’s time for the Atlas Lions to do something. They cannot let this generation pass without giving their fans something to cheer about.

Youssef En-Nesyri is a wonderful striker for the likes of Brahim Diaz, Hakim Ziyech, and the exciting young Eliesse Ben-Seghir to provide with all the ammo he needs.

Sofyan Amrabat will be looking after the midfield, whilst Achraf Hakimi bombs on past him, and West Ham’s Aguerd takes charge of the backline.

The next AFCON has to be the one, and a good showing in the 2026 World Cup wouldn’t go amiss.


The Samurai Blue are so much fun, these days. Kaoru Mitoma, Takefusa Kubo, Takumi Minamino, and Ritsu Doan are all glorious players to watch.

They’ve got Liverpool’s new favourite adopted son, Endo, bossing midfield, and a defence made of Bundesliga regulars and Takehiro Tomiyasu.

We can’t wait to see how this golden Japanese generation gets on in 2026.


2021’s AFCON champs have quality all over the pitch at the moment. Their greatest-ever player, Sadio Mane, is still there, doing bits, and he’s not alone.

A midfield trio of Pape Matar Sarr, Cheikhou Kouyate, and Idrissa Gueye sounds lovely to us. They’ll be in front of the titanic Kalidou Koulibaly, and ex-Chelsea man Edouard Mendy.

If they can get current Chelsea man Nicolas Jackson scoring goals, the Lions of Teranga are laughing.

READ NEXT: Every Euro 2024 released & leaked so far: England & France looking very smart…

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name the last 100 players to make their England debut?