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The Toe Poke

FA unveil star-studded 2018 bid team

England captain John Terry is joined by his German club team-mate Michael Ballack in spearheading a star-studded and diverse squad of ambassadors from across world football in support of England's 2018 World Cup bid.

Robinho and Emile Heskey are among some of the more interesting figures in one of the world's largest ever group of 'names' assembled to back a World Cup bid.

Gareth Southgate might have just suffered the indignity of the first managerial sacking of his career, but he is one of the many on the FA's full list, published for the first time.

Southgate, infamous for his penalty miss at Euro 96 in one of many England shoot-out failures, should have plenty of time on his hands to help England's cause, now that he has been dismissed by Middlesbrough.

The entire squad boasts more than 3,000 international caps, 450 international goals and over 70 appearances at World Cup final tournaments between them.

ESPN Soccernet broke the story that Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa would be among the foreign stars backing the bid, and they are on the full list announced by the FA. So too is Glenn Hoddle, the only England manager sacked by the FA for non-footballing reasons.

The squad is led by a host of foreign players who "have had a major impact on the English game", including current England stars, such as record outfield appearance holder David Beckham, ex-international legends, such as Alan Shearer, members of the England women's team and representatives of the England disabled teams.

The FA bid team suggested that "international figures will be able to help foster support for the bid all over the world by sharing their experiences of the English game". These include Ghana midfielder Michael Essien, as well as Brazilian forward Robinho, German captain Ballack, Argentine World Cup winner Ardiles, Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel and former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Current England stars such as John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand will join Beckham and Wayne Rooney who helped launch the England 2018 World Cup bid at Wembley in May 2009.

In addition, some of the biggest names in English football history have pledged their support including Gary Lineker, Shearer, Viv Anderson, Bryan Robson, David Seaman, Stuart Pearce, Peter Shilton, Peter Beardsley, Andrew Cole and John Barnes.

The FA bid team added: "Each ambassador will offer invaluable support to England 2018 at home and abroad in a variety of ways, including attendance of bid events and international matches, use of their image in promotional materials and meetings with key football stakeholders.

"The global reputation of the ambassadors will help positively showcase England 2018 internationally as well as continue to build public support for the World Cup bid in England."

England Captain John Terry said: "England would be a fantastic home for the World Cup if we had the opportunity to stage the tournament in 2018.

"It has been great to see how much support the England 2018 World Cup bid has already received from people in the game. Important names in football have been coming forward to find out how they can help and our passionate fans can also make a real difference."

Germany captain, Michael Ballack, said: "The atmosphere and competitive nature of English football has been a great experience, playing with and against the best players in the world. England would be a fitting host for the 2018 World Cup."

Former England captain Shearer, who scored 30 goals for England in 63 games said: "I am convinced England would be a fabulous place for World Cup football. We love the game here and it plays a part in every town, village, city and street in England. It gives me great pleasure to provide support along with a number of great figures to help give our passionate fans the chance to see World Cup football in this country."

England women's forward Eniola Aluko, who is currently playing in the USA for Saint Louis Athletica added: "I am honoured to be an England 2018 World Cup bid ambassador. Many of the players in our squad have been fortunate to play in some amazing international tournaments but nothing can match the atmosphere we experienced when playing in Euro 2005 in England. The knowledge and passion for the game is unrivalled and it would be an incredible boost for both girls and boys football if we were to host the World Cup in 2018."

England 2018 Ambassadors Squad: Aaron Mokoena (South Africa), Alan Shearer, Alexandre Song (Cameroon), Andrew Cole, Ashley Young, Brian Deane, Bryan Robson, Carlos Edwards (Trinidad & Tobago), Chris Powell, Cyrille Regis, David Beckham, David James, David Seaman, David Clarke (England Blind Squad) Des Walker, Emile Heskey, Eniola Aluko, Faye White, Gareth Southgate, Gary Lineker, Gary Mabbutt, Gianfranco Zola (Italy), Glenn Hoddle, Graeme Le Saux, Graham Taylor, Howard Wilkinson, James Milner, John Barnes, John Obi Mikel (Nigeria), John Terry, Joseph Yobo (Nigeria), Kanu (Nigeria), Kenwyne Jones (Trinidad & Tobago), Kelly Smith, Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast), Lucas Radebe (South Africa), Luther Blissett , Michael Ballack (Germany), Michael Barker (England Cerebral Palsy Squad), Michael Chopra, Michael Essien (Ghana), Muzzy Izzet (Turkey), Osvaldo Ardiles (Argentina), Paul Elliott, Paul Ince, Paul Parker, Peter Beardsley, Peter Crouch, Peter Shilton, Phil Neville, Ray Clemence, Ray Wilkins, Rachel Brown, Ricardo Villa (Argentina), Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Earle (Jamaica) Roberto Di Matteo (Italy), Robinho (Brazil), Roque Santa Cruz (Paraguay), Salomon Kalou (Ivory Coast), Sol Campbell, Steven Gerrard, Steven Pienaar (South Africa), Stuart Pearce, Sven Goran Eriksson (Sweden), Teddy Sheringham, Terry Venables, Tony Adams, Tony Woodcock, Victor Anichebe (Nigeria), Viv Anderson, Wayne Rooney, Zesh Rehman (Pakistan).


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