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Euro 2016: If the England Squad was decided by Twitter

It’s tournament time again and we’re starting to see the public roll out the same old tournament traditions; questioning the team selection, the formation, our chances of success and dreading penalties…

The England squad for Euro 2016 certainly differs from that of previous tournaments, with household names retired and new talent in abundance. For that reason every punter is throwing in their thoughts on what eleven give us the best shot for the trophy.

What are our thoughts? Well, being as we are Giraffe Social Media we like to believe that social media is the answer to everything! For that reason social media manager Jamie Best has taken a look at what the squad would look like if it were based on players’ Twitter following, and how that compares to the actual squad.

Turns out, in this case, social media might have gotten it wrong…


Actual:​ Hart, Forster, Heaton
Twitter:Foster (220k), Forster (218k), Butland (97.4k)

Our squad excludes players not active on Twitter and is selecting the squad as if every player were fully fit. As Hart doesn’t have a Twitter following, Foster would start in goal and Mr Head and Shoulders himself would be left at home, his place taken instead by Stoke City’s Butland.


Actual: ​Walker, Rose, Cahill, Smalling, Clyne, Stones, Bertrand
Twitter: ​Jones (2.17m), Shaw (1.25m), Cahill (785k), Walker (643k), Chambers (605k), Smalling (494k), Bertrand (464k), Richards (256k)

If we succumbed to this madness of choosing our team then Jones would be leading the line instead of club mate Smalling who would be left on the bench. Out­-of-­form Richards and out­-of-­favour Chambers would also board the plane to France ahead of the established Clyne and the promising, albeit a little clumsy, Stones.

Interestingly the combined following of all mentioned defenders (6.64m) still doesn’t beat Rio Ferdinand’s following! (6.9m)


Actual:​ Milner, Sterling, Lallana, Henderson, Dier, Wilshere, Barkley, Alli
Twitter:Wilshere (2.24m), Ox-­Chamberlain (2.14m), Carrick (1.62m), Sterling (1.29m), Milner (523k), Barkley (363k), Henderson (353k), Townsend (328k)

Lallana, Alli and Dier miss out in midfield. Lallana isn’t active on Twitter while Alli and Dier arguably haven’t had enough time to amass a following that rivals other players in our England squad due to being newcomers. Townsend may have just missed his ticket to France but he can sleep easy knowing he can tell an impressive amount of people about it compared to the likes of Mark Noble and Danny Drinkwater.

This group of players looks more like the previous World Cup squad than the current Euro 2016 squad but fingers crossed with a few memorable nights in France the new boys can escalate to dizzying heights of Twitter fandom.

Okay, James Milner isn’t on Twitter but his unofficial page (boring James Milner) is one of our favourites and has amassed a huge following even for a fan page so we’ve counted it as his public profile. If he hadn’t retired from international football Joey Barton would be leading the midfield thanks to his extraordinary 3.22m followers which eclipses any single England midfielder in our squad.


Actual:​ Kane, Rooney, Vardy, Sturridge, Rashford
Twitter:​ Rooney (13.1m), Sturridge (1.88m), Walcott (1.2m), Defoe (812k)

Up­-front is the area of most contrast and controversy between our Twitter England squad and the actual England squad with Vardy and Kane not making the cut despite scoring 49 league goals between them this season. Although he hasn’t had much playing time of late it seems Sturridge’s blend of raw talent and consistent social media presence has propelled him into the starting line­-up; here’s guessing all that time in the treatment room paid off in some manner. Walcott and Defoe have been understandably overlooked with the rise of Vardy and Kane, however it seems if we were to select the squad by reputation they’d be a shoe in for spots on the plane.

Interestingly Alan Shearer wouldn’t get in the team despite holding the record for most Premier League goals whereas social media master Gary Lineker would make the cut ­- despite millennials being too young to recall him playing with anything other than packets of crisps.

Modern day absentees from the striking department include Welbeck and young Marcus Rashford. Sticking with a 4-­4-­2 that would leave us with a starting 11 of: Foster, Shaw, Jones, Cahill, Walker, Ox­Chamberlain, Carrick, Wilshere, Sterling, Rooney, Sturridge. Our Twitter starting 11 look more like a throwback to 2014 (minus Gerrard and Lampard), than the England team that will do battle at Euro 2016. This leaves us wondering if what we’re seeing is a fresh faced England team chosen on form rather than reputation ­ pity the thought.

Oh and if you’re wondering, the largest social following of any past or present England player is, surprise surprise, David Beckham’s Instagram account boasting over 23.8m followers. Goodness knows what following he’d acquire if he had an official Twitter account.

What are your thoughts on the England squad? Tweet us -­ ​@GiraffeSM​. Followers correct at time of writing.

By Jamie Best, social media manager

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