Team of best Man Utd players never to appear at a World Cup finals



The former miner was a tough, uncompromising centre-back who would tighten up any defence. For all his dedication and service at United, Foulkes only played once for England – as a right-back against Northern Ireland in 1954 – after recovering from a knock sustained in a practice game for the Three Lions against Manchester City at Maine Road. He survived Munich and scored the goal that clinched a place in the European Cup final a decade later, calmly equalising against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. With four titles also to his name, to go with fourth spot on the appearances chart, he is impossible to leave out.


Both defensive lynchpins of Sir Alex Ferguson’s first successful side deserve recognition but we’ve given the starting spot to Pally ahead of his partner Steve Bruce. Elegant yet tough, the centre-back proved to be worth every penny of the record £2.3 million required to prise him from Middlesbrough in 1989. Having made his international bow a year earlier, against Hungary, he had hopes of making Italia ’90 but did not make the squad and England failed to qualify for the finals four years later. Although he did contribute in qualifying, ending on 22 caps, he was not in Glenn Hoddle’s 1998 plans. At United, he won four Premier League titles and three FA Cups, in addition to the European Cup Winners’ Cup. 


Although captaining a Europe XI in 1947, one of our greatest skippers did not to play on the biggest stage, with his career also spanning wartime and the disruption that naturally caused. As he was extremely versatile, and at home in defence or midfield, we’ve elected to hand him a place in the engine room of our side. Respected throughout the footballing world, he led Sir Matt Busby’s team to the 1948 FA Cup and the Division One title four years later. ‘Gentleman John’ would be capable of easily slotting into another role and was another automatic pick.


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