Gareth Southgate believes many of England’s past stars would walk into the current XI.
The Three Lions celebrate their 1000th international in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro on Thursday evening, and the FA have invited some decorated names to attend the match.
Southgate, who lined up alongside the likes of Paul Gascoigne, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney during his England playing days, told The Sun: “Most of them would get into the team we have now, that’s for certain.
“I played with some of the greats in the last 25 years If you look at Beckham, Scholes, Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney and Gazza it was hard enough to get four into a midfield at that time, without going through generations of players.
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“It was a privilege to play with some outstanding players.
“When people say ‘they didn’t achieve’, when you’re in the dressing room with them and you’re with them for weeks away, I knew what it meant to all of them to play for England and to represent England on those big nights.
“Although it didn’t happen, it wasn’t because they didn’t want it, it was just that, for various reasons which we’ve talked about over the years, it didn’t.
“But, you don’t get 60, 70, 80 caps by pulling out of squads.”
The 49-year-old also claimed he has changed the culture of past players pulling out of England squads during international weeks, with former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp admitting some of his Spurs players did not fancy playing for England in his time at White Hart Lane.
He continued: “When I started, I felt a lot of players were pulling out of squads.
“That wasn’t the case years ago and I don’t think it’s the case now.”
He added: “Whenever I played I was always thinking beforehand: 56 million people or whatever it was in the country, I’m one of 11 standing there belting out the national anthem.
“What that meant to my family, to the school I went to, to the Sunday teams I played for, coaches I’ve worked with.
“I could not be prouder, I thought – until I led the team.
“Then you realise there’s an even smaller group of people who have had that opportunity and that is an immense privilege.
“Bobby Robson, Sir Alf Ramsey and Terry Venables are people I have incredible respect for.”