Where are they now? England’s Xl from Gareth Southgate’s first game as boss

Quick Reads

When Gareth Southgate was named interim manager of the England team in 2016, it’s fair to say even the most optimistic of supporters would never have imagined what was to come.

Southgate was eventually given the job on a permanent basis and has transformed their fortunes in recent years, leading the Three Lions to the Euro 2020 final.

We’ve taken a look back at the England Xl from his first game in charge, a 2-0 win over Malta, to see how they’ve all fared since.

Joe Hart

Despite struggling at Euro 2016, Hart remained as England’s No.1 before eventually being usurped by Jordan Pickford in the build-up to the 2018 World Cup.

At club level, the goalkeeper ended a 12-year association with Manchester City and joined Burnley on a permanent deal in 2018.

He made 24 appearances in all competitions for the Clarets and is now back-up for Hugo Lloris at Tottenham.

Kyle Walker

One of just three players in this starting line-up who made the Euro 2020 squad, Walker has gone from strength to strength in recent years.

Since joining Manchester City from Tottenham in 2017, the 31-year-old has won three Premier League titles, four League Cups and an FA Cup.

He has also fought off competition from Kieran Trippier, Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold to remain Southgate’s first-choice right-back.

Gary Cahill

After winning his second Premier League title with Chelsea in 2016-17, Cahill was named in the PFA Team of the Year and replaced John Terry as club captain.

The centre-back then decided to step aside from the national team in 2018, telling Southgate that he did not want to be considered for selection unless there was an injury crisis.

After seven-and-a-half seasons at Stamford Bridge, he was released by the Blues in 2019 and has since become a key player for Crystal Palace.

John Stones

Stones recovered from a difficult debut season at Manchester City and helped them win the Premier League with 100 points in 2017-18.

He then came under huge scrutiny after a calamitous mistake in England’s UEFA Nations League game against Holland in 2019 and also found himself out of the City team.

The centre-back enjoyed another renaissance in 2020-21, making 35 appearances in all competitions as City won the Premier League and the League Cup.

Having formed a brilliant partnership with Ruben Dias at club level, Stones is now impressing alongside Harry Maguire at Euro 2020.

READ: With one celebration, Stones and Maguire underlined Southgate’s legacy

Ryan Bertrand (Danny Rose, 19)

Having forged a reputation as a perfectly reliable left-back at Southampton, Bertrand was a notable omission from England’s 2018 World Cup squad.

“I played wing-back in a five at the end of the season, which is how England play,” Bertrand told the Daily Mail in 2018. “I also played in a central three for Southampton with Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte, and we went on Southampton’s record clean sheet run, six on the bounce.

“I played left midfield in a Champions League final for Chelsea. It is perhaps an oversight in the manager’s analysis and I find that hard to take.”

He’s been unable to work his way back into the England team and recently joined Leicester City on a free transfer following the expiration of his Southampton contract.

Rose struggled with injuries and had a sour end to his Tottenham career before joining Watford on a free transfer in 2021.

Jordan Henderson

While Henderson was still a much-maligned figure with both Liverpool and England in 2016, he has since silenced his doubters once and for all.

The midfielder became a Champions League-winning captain in 2019 before leading the Reds to their first league title in 30 years.

He’s yet to start for England at Euro 2020 but did score his first international goal after coming off the bench against Ukraine in the quarter-final.

READ: Jordan Henderson’s backheel shows England are now in p*ss-taking mode

Dele Alli

Once regarded as English football’s most exciting talent, Alli won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

But his career at Tottenham has stagnated in recent years, and he hasn’t played for England since June 2019.

After starting just two Premier League games under Jose Mourinho in 2020-21, the midfielder will hope for a fresh start with Nuno Espirito Santo.

“The only person I blame is myself,” Alli told Goal in July 2021. “I should be performing at a level where it is difficult to not put me in the team or not play me. I don’t blame anyone but myself.

“Working with Mourinho was a great experience and one I learned a lot from.”

Wayne Rooney

Having played alongside Southgate at international level, Rooney was in the twilight of his career when the former was appointed England manager.

England’s all-time top scorer announced his retirement from internationals in August 2017, only to make a one-off return to the national side a year later.

After seeing out his playing career at Derby County, the 35-year-old was appointed manager of the Championship side in January 2021.

READ: Yearning for the Wayne Rooney that we all fell in love with at Euro 2004

Theo Walcott (Marcus Rashford, 68)

Despite impressing for Arsenal in 2016-17, Walcott received a phone call on his 28th birthday to inform him that he was being dropped from the England squad.

“I’ve got to say he wasn’t chuffed to bits to get the call,” Southgate said in March 2017. “And I understand that. Did he argue his case? Yes. Quite rightly, he said: ‘I’m one of the leading goalscorers in the league.’

“I don’t mind being challenged on that. I totally respect that. I don’t expect him to be happy but I’ve got to make decisions and I think it was the right thing to call him to talk that through – even if the timing wasn’t great.”

The winger hasn’t played for England since and is now back at boyhood club Southampton after a not particularly memorable stint at Everton.

Rashford has developed into one of the best forwards in the Premier League with Manchester United and has 45 international caps to his name at the time of writing. He’s also a lovely, lovely man.

Daniel Sturridge (Jamie Vardy, 73)

Sturridge’s final few years at Liverpool were detailed by a series of injury problems, and he joined Trabzonspor on a free transfer in 2019.

Now 31, the striker has been without a club since leaving the Turkish side in March 2020 after being handed a four-month ban for breaching betting rules.

Vardy announced his retirement from international football in August 2018 and decided to focus on his club career with Leicester City. He won the Premier League Golden Boot in 2019-20 before helping the Foxes lift the FA Cup in 2021.

Jesse Lingard

Lingard made his senior England debut against Malta and soon became a key player for Southgate, staring at the 2018 World Cup.

The 28-year-old then struggled for form at Manchester United and has since opened up about his mental health issues, revealing that he nearly took a break from football.

“I was going into games happy sitting on the bench and that’s not me,” Lingard told the Presenting YouTube channel in 2021. “I was telling my brother the other day: ‘Remember when I was happy sitting on the bench and all this?’

“I didn’t want to play because my mind wasn’t there, I wasn’t focused at all. I was thinking about other things and obviously bottling it all up; trying to play football, you can’t do it.”

Despite rediscovering his best form during a loan spell at West Ham in the second half of 2020-21, he failed to make the cut when Southgate named his final 26-man squad for Euro 2020.


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