The above illustration shows which clubs have contributed players to the 23-man England World Cup squad. Aside from backup keeper Fraser Forster of Scottish champions Celtic, the balance of the squad comes from just eight Premier League sides. This is not necessarily a negative; Italy and Spain won the last two Cups with largely domestic-based squads.
England has long competed with almost entirely British-based battalions. In 2010, all 23 players came from the Premier League. In 2006 only Owen Hargreaves of Bayern Munich and David Beckham of Real Madrid plied their trade abroad. In 2002 it was just Hargreaves at Bayern. In 1998 all the players were Prem-based. The 1990 semi-finalists all came from the old English First Division save Chris Waddle of Marseille and Gary Stevens, Terry Butcher, and Trevor Stevens of the Mighty ‘Gers. The immortal 1966 squad all came from English clubs but that was in an era when few played abroad.
At this World Cup only Italy, Spain, Mexico, Iran, and Germany approach England’s concentration of domestic club players. Russia tops every nation with all 23 players coming from its Premier League.
Manchester City’s recent triumphs were built on the backs of astronomically priced imports. As such, they’ve only contributed Joe Hart and James Milner to the cause. More encouraging for English prospects is the recent resurgence enjoyed by Liverpool, Everton, and Southampton fueled largely with national team members. The Three Lions boast five of Anfield’s finest – six if you include recent Southampton signee Rickie Lambert. Saint Luke Shaw and Toffee Ross Barkley figure to star for England for years to come.
Every so often there’s a call for English players, particularly those stuck on the bench at the bigger clubs, to play abroad. Other European powers that have enjoyed far greater recent success than England such as Holland, France, and Portugal boast squad members from clubs all over the continent. But few English players seem likely to follow in Kevin Keegan’s footsteps. As England supporters pause to look past this summer and look toward France ’16 and Russia ’18 they can take solace in a young generation making a name for themselves while playing their football near the top of the Premier League table.
You can find England’s full World Cup squad, along with ever other nation’s, in World Soccer Talk’s 2014 World Cup Guidebook. The download is available here.