Gareth Southgate’s squad for the 2018 World Cup is one of the most youthful ever selected – only one player has over 50 caps and have an average age of 26.
This has some very positive aspects, not least the fact many of the players have not experienced the crushing disappointments of previous tournaments as England players.
In fact, at the 2014 World Cup, only five of the current squad featured, while many were plying their trade in youth teams or the lower leagues.
Even by the standards of the other players on this list, Alexander-Arnold’s rise has been meteoric. In 2014 he was a 15-year-old member of Liverpool’s youth team, and was not a regular in the first team until the season just gone.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s rise to a place in the England World Cup squad has been meteoric
Although he made his England debut two years earlier, Butland was very much still a young keeper learning his trade in 2014. He made just three Premier League appearances for Stoke, in between loan spells for Barnsley and Leeds.
Jack Butland in action for England in 2018 (left) and playing for Leeds four years ago (right)
The most experienced member of England’s 2018 squad with 58 caps, Cahill was first choice for Roy Hodgson in Brazil and played all 270 minutes of action for England – the defeats by Italy and Uruguay and the draw with Costa Rica.
Gary Cahill was named in both the squads for the 2018 World Cup (left) and 2014 (right)
Now one of England’s brightest talents, Alli was an 18-year-old who had just burst into the first team of League One MK Dons in 2014. In February 2015, Tottenham agreed a fee for Alli, and the rest is history.
Now one of England’s brightest talents, Alli was an 18-year-old for MK Dons back in 2014
Delph was unlucky to miss out on a place in England’s squad for the 2014 World Cup, after making 36 appearances the previous season for Aston Villa. He made his international debut in the September after the 2014 showpiece, but has won only 11 caps so far.
Fabian Delph made the England squad for 2018 after being unlucky to miss out in 2014
While England were toiling in South America, Dier was finalising his move to Tottenham from Sporting Lisbon, having played 14 times for the first team in 2013-14 – primarily as a centre back. He goes to Russia as a leading defensive midfielder.
Eric Dier playing for England’s senior team in 2018 (left) and the U21s in 2014 (right)
The Liverpool midfielder was another to feature for England at the 2014 World Cup, starting against both Italy and Uruguay. A young buck with just 10 caps then, Henderson is now captain of Liverpool and a leading figure for England.
Jordan Henderson is another to feature for England at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups
Another survivor of the Brazilian debacle, Jones had less blame attached as he only played in one game – the goalless dead rubber with Costa Rica – where he played at right back. Jones is now a possible starter at centre back for Gareth Southgate.
Phil Jones is another survivor of the Brazilian debacle, playing for England in Brazil and Russia
In 2017-18, Kane scored 41 goals in 48 games for Tottenham to reassert his status as one of the world’s best strikers. It was very different four seasons prior, with Kane making just 19 first-team Spurs appearances and scoring just four goals in 2013-14.
Harry Kane is now one of the world’s leading strikers, but it wasn’t that way four years ago
Now a real contender for the World Cup starting line up after a stellar season with Manchester United, in the summer of 2014 Lingard had just returned to Old Trafford from loan spells in the Championship with Birmingham City and Brighton.
Four years ago, Jesse Lingard had just returned to Man United from a loan spell at Brighton
In 2014, then 18-year-old Loftus-Cheek was just coming through as one of Chelsea’s most promising youth assets, helping the reserve squad to the Premier League 2 title. He hasn’t truly cracked the Blues first team, but is on the plane to Russia.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has gone from Chelsea youth player to World Cup star in four years
Maguire recently shared a picture on social media of him at the 2014 World Cup – as a fan, having travelled to Brazil with his mates. On the pitch, he had just helped League One Sheffield United in a shock run to the FA Cup semi-finals.
Four years ago, Harry Maguire was in the stands as an England fan and playing in League One
Before breaking into the first team at Sunderland, Pickford spent many months out on loan at various lower league clubs. In the summer of 2014, he had just returned from being unable to prevent Carlisle being relegated to League Two.
Jordan Pickford is now England No 1 (left) but four years ago was on loan at Carlisle (right)
Speaking of keepers whose path to the top was paved with loans – Pope in 2014 played on loan for York City, helping them into the League Two play-offs, where they lost to Fleetwood Town. In 2018, he edged out Joe Hart to make the squad.
Nick Pope is going to the World Cup, whereas four years ago he was in the lower leagues
The Manchester United forward was a late pick for Euro 2016 after a breakthrough few months – and he was even further off the radar in 2014. The 16-year-old had just graduated from the United academy, and still had a long way to go.
Marcus Rashford was a 16-year-old Manchester United youth player during the last World Cup
Despite suffering a fractured foot in the first half of 2013-14, Rose was an established first-teamer at Tottenham, with 30 appearances that season. He was therefore unlucky to miss out on Brazil 2014, with Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw picked instead.
Danny Rose was unlucky to miss out on selection for 2014, but he is chosen four years on
You all remember where you were in 2014, when Sterling’s howitzer after three minutes against Italy in England’s World Cup opener looked to have nestled in the top corner, and all seemed right with the world. Sadly, it was not to be. He will once again help to spearhead the Three Lions attack this summer.
Raheem Sterling is one of five players picked for both the 2014 and 2018 squads
Stones, then 19, was placed on the 2014 stand-by list by Hodgson, who confirmed he would be drafted in if Jones failed to recover from a shoulder injury. Jones was able to make it and Stones stayed at home, but now gets his big opportunity.
John Stones was only on standby four years ago, but has been picked for this tournament
Trippier is now key to Southgate’s plan to play with wing backs at the World Cup, but in 2014 he was key to Sean Dyche’s Burnley earning promotion to the Premier League, playing 41 Championship games in a successful season.
Kieran Trippier playing for England in 2018 (left) and in action for Burnley in 2014 (right)
In his epic journey from Stocksbridge Park Steels to Premier League champion, Vardy in 2014 was celebrating a crucial milestone; like Trippier, he had just been promoted from the Championship after Leicester City won the division.
Jamie Vardy was another to be celebrating promotion four years ago, with Leicester City
The Tottenham right back was just starting to emerge as a key figure for club and country in 2014, however a groin injury suffered towards the end of the campaign meant Walker had to watch the 2014 tournament on television.
Kyle Walker missed out with a groin injury in 2014 but is set to star for England in 2018
With 16 goals, Welbeck goes to Russia as the leading scorer in England’s squad – but he is no longer first choice, as he was in Brazil. The Arsenal striker started against both Italy and Uruguay but was withdrawn without scoring.
Welbeck goes to Russia as the leading scorer in England’s squad – but he is not first choice
Before being reinvented as a left back in recent campaigns, Young was viewed as an over-the-hill winger in 2014 (despite being 28). He was left out of the World Cup squad after a disappointing season for Manchester United.
Ashley Young, in four years, has gone from over-the-hill winger to first choice left back