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North vs South: Mapping England's World Cup 2018 Heroes


Despite not winning the trophy, that honour fell to France, England enjoyed a great 2018 World Cup in Russia. There will always be the thought of 'what could have been' but nothing can take away what the players achieved in the tournament, especially considering there was little hope amongst fans prior to the event beginning.

Indeed there was not much optimism at all as the 2018 World Cup started and England were expected to get through their group but probably not progress much beyond that. The draw was favourable and having come through a very tough game against Colombia on penalties, England comfortably defeated Sweden in the quarter-final.

The semi-final was one step too far for the Three Lions and despite taking the lead against Croatia, England eventually lost the game 2-1 after extra-time.

A feel good factor returned to England fans both in Russia and at home watching on television. There was talk of a bus parade to celebrate the players' achievements but in the end this idea was dropped. However, if the FA did organise a bus parade, similar to the one Wales had when they returned from the 2016 European Championship. Where would the parade have taken place?

The obvious choice is London but how many of England's World Cup 2018 heroes are from this area of the country? Many fans from outside the capital may have wanted to see their stars a bit closer to their own home.

There has always been a divide between the north and south in England and football in-particular.

When looking at where Britain's best sports stars hail from, there was an interesting find in terms of the England football team.

Mapping where England's World Cup 2018 squad grew up
Mapping where England's World Cup 2018 squad grew up

Gareth Southgate named a 23 man squad for the 2018 World Cup and 15 of those players can consider themselves to be northerners. To be more specific, six of the England World Cup squad are from Yorkshire. Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Fabian Delph and Jamie Vardy are all from Yorkshire.

Walker, Stones and Maguire were three of the most important players for England in the World Cup and made up 50% of England's defence throughout the competition. Moving further north, current goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was born in Washington, a town in the city of Sunderland. The Everton number one started his career at Sunderland before making a big-money move to Goodison Park.

So, when including the goalkeeper, four of England's six defensive players at the 2018 World Cup come from Yorkshire and the north east. Moving to the north west and you can add Kieran Tripper to that group of players. The Tottenham Hotspur right-back, who has played regularly at Wembley for both club and country, was born in Bury, Greater Manchester.

Tripper may play his Premier League football in London but he started his career at Manchester City, before playing for Barnsley and Burnley. Therefore, England's first choice defence is built on players from the north.

Moving to the south of England and one look at the infographic shows there are not as many England international football players being produced in this region of the country.

Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling are the two big-name players and first team regulars who come from London, with Sterling moving from Jamaica when he was young. Kane is England's and Tottenham Hotspur's number one striker and he returned from the 2018 World Cup with the Golden Boot. This clearly gives some weighting to the south's claims as being the most successful region for top England and Premier League talent. Without Kane's goals, including two in the win over Tunisia and one in the draw with Colombia, England would have struggled in Russia, of that there is no doubt.

Sterling's contribution came in for some criticism but Southgate clearly likes the Manchester City winger and he has been performing well under the guidance of Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.

Dele Alli, who hails from Milton Keynes, and Ashley Young were two men who played an important role for England at the 2018 World Cup. Alli scored the all-important second goal for England in the quarter-final win over Sweden and this gave the team a cushion in the second half. Instead of having just a single goal lead to hang on to in the dying minutes of the match, Alli's goal gave England some breathing space.

Young, who is from Stevenage, has blossomed as a full-back at Manchester United in recent years, playing regularly at Old Trafford. Having started his career with Watford, Young forced his way into the Southgate's thinking late on but became a major part of the squad during the tournament.

While a majority of the 2018 England World Cup squad hails from the north, it is also possible to divide the north and south in terms of attack and defence, with the north providing much of the defensive cover and the south producing more of the key attacking players.