106 Players have been capped for England since 2000. Ten of those have left us scratching our heads as to why...
10. Jermaine Jenas
We begin with central midfielder Jermaine Jenas, winner of the PFA Young Player of the Year Award for an impressive campaign with Newcastle Utd in which they finished 3rd. He subsequently earned his first England call-up in 2003. The initial buzz soon wore off and Jenas struggled to get back into a solid run of form. Since then 6 years has past and a series of underwhelming performances for England and Spurs earn him the number 10 spot on the list.
9. Kieron Dyer
Now for another ex-Newcastle midfielder. Kieron Dyer. He was signed for £6million from Ipswich in 1999 as a 20 year old prospect and soon after made his first appearance for the national side against Luxembourg. His notorious injury problems have seen him appear just 22 times for West Ham since his transfer in 2007 where he failed to complete a full 90 minutes for the Hammers. Their relegation saw him released, only to be signed by Premiership new boys, QPR, where (you guessed it) he suffered a broken foot just 3 minutes into his debut. Somehow he managed 33 games for England without crutches but failed to score a single goal despite his attacking style.
8. Scott Carson
Harsh? Maybe. But surely there had to be one England goalkeeper somewhere? The unlucky stopper Carson held off competiton from Robert 'Flappy Hands' Green and David 'Calamity' James to 8th place. He has made just 3 appearances for England including a clean sheet on his debut and conceeded one against Germany which captain John Terry later took the blame for. However it was for one moment that Scott Carson will be remembered. A moment that ended the Wally with the Brolly's England career and meant England would be missing out on the 2008 European Championships. Yes, I am of course talking about THAT Croatia game. Steve McClaren decided to start the inexperienced Carson in the crucial qualifier. Niko Kranjcar's speculative 30 yard effort skipped off the surface in front of the keeper and ended up rippling the net rather than the comfortable save England fans expected. It ended in a 3-2 defeat on the night for the Three Lions. Carson has since moved to the Turkish league side Bursaspor, presumably to avoid contact with anybody who may have been at Wembley that night...
7. Jay Bothroyd
Not particularly a bad player. He had a respectable 1 in 2 ratio for Cardiff in the Championship last season and secured a move to the Premiership over the summer but England...really?? Spain have Villa and Torres. Germany have Klose and Muller. Argentina have Aguero and Tevez. England have Bothroyd. Fabio Capello has given many players their chance in England friendlies but the 29 year old's inclusion surprised many considering the talent England have at their disposal in the likes of Rooney, Defoe, Carroll, Bent and Crouch plus many more non-regulars who some may argue have not been given a deserved chance. Bothroyd was entered the fray as a second half substitute, making little impact. Maybe his Premiership move can show us what he can do in a top league before another call up heads his way.
6. Seth Johnson
Who? Exactly. Crewe Alexandra midfielder Seth Johnson had agreed a transfer to Derby County but delayed the deal until the end of the season to help with Crewe's relegation battle. Noble. They survived by a single point and Johnson made his way to the Premier league. He then got the call from acting England manager Peter Taylor to join the squad to face Italy. This turned out to be Johnson's only and very forgettable performance for England and Peter Taylor's only game in charge. Johnson went on to secure a £7million move to Leeds Utd in 2001 when they began their descent into the abyss which saw them plummet from Champions League to League 1, below the Championship.
5. Emile Heskey
Now before I begin I'll say now that this is not just a 'lets slag off Heskey because everybody else does' paragraph. I do realise he can on occasions contribute well to the cause but the length of his time with England is truly staggering. In an 11 year career with the national side spanning into 3 decades, Heskey has notched up an impressive 62 caps and has repayed the faith that 4 managers have shown him with a measly 7 goals. People say he does other things on the pitch. He holds up the ball. He wins things in the air. He provides assists. At the end of the day though he is a striker. Strikers score goals. Emile Heskey does not. He has now retired from the international scene to focus on his club football in which he boasts a similar strike rate for current club Aston Villa.
4. David Nugent
1 cap, 1 goal. You could say that but in reality, half a dozen policemen should have marched him away for robbery. Jermain Defoe's drive at goal beat the defence, left the keeper stranded and had more than enough power to make it 3-0. He, naturally, wheeled off to celebrate when the then Preston North End striker produced a lung busting run into the box to slot home from all of about 10cm. A no doubt peeved Defoe didn't recieve the credit for his work but fair play to Nugent who, in the future, will retire a happy man with the title of a one cap wonder.
3. Darius Vassell
Although not actually doing too badly for England, you have to wonder how he got there in the first place. In 7 years at Villa, he produced just 35 goals in 162 games. Not exactly England class. Not exactly any sort of class to be honest. His England time was mainly spent as a back up, scoring 6 goals along the way in 22 appearances but Euro 2004 saw his demise. The infamous game v Portugal. An 18 year old Wayne Rooney (complete with his own hair) limped off early in the match to be replaced by Vassell. The entertaining affair between the hosts and a spirited England side reached it's dramatic conclusion with sudden death penalties. After watching David Beckham blaze over from 12 yards it was down to Vassell to keep the dream alive. It was saved by the very man who stepped up and confidently broke England hearts just moments later. The goalkeeper Ricardo. Vassell picked himself up and went off to Man City where he continued his 'worse than Heskey' goal ratio before finally doing a Carson and heading for Turkey.
2. Francis Jeffers
Another 1 cap, 1 goal-er now. Francis Jeffers. Making his debut for Everton at the age of just 16 was the beginning of the hype. He boasted an impressive record, impressive enough to tempt Arsene Wenger's wallet into splashing £8million on him. Hopes were high. His chance came when England came head to head with Australia and grabbed a goal. However, the Aussies got 3. It was a humiliating night at Upton Park and it was the last we saw of Jeffers in the famous white shirt. But what happened next? Surely a teenager with such promise could make a name for himself somewhere? Well. No. He was loaned back to boyhood club Everton where he appeared 18 times without a goal to his name. A host of clubs then took a chance on the striker, all of whom now deeply regret such a decision. Including his return to Merseyside, Jeffers has taken part in 148 games across the Premiership, Championship, League 1 and even Australia with a goal return of 14... I rest my case.
1. Michael Ricketts
Now we come to the cream of the crop, the pièce de résistance of this article. Michael Ricketts. 15 goals by February for Bolton convinced Sven into giving him a shot on the international stage. An aimless performance saw Ricketts substituted and cast out of the Swede's mind. What is really shocking about Ricketts is how far he has dropped since that fateful debut v Holland. He failed to score for the rest of that season. It was a taster of the horror that was about to unfold. A lifeline was handed to him in the shape of Middlesbrough Football Club. He was a regular. Leading the line for the Boro, just not very well. 3 in 32 was his record that year but worse was still to come. Between the years of 2006 and 2010, Ricketts graced the pitches of Leeds, Stoke, Cardiff, Burnley, Southend, Preston, Oldham and Walsall. At least one new club every season before ending up at Tranmere Rovers in 2009 where he was released by mutual consent just 5 months later. At 32, Ricketts could still be signed up for lower league sides but given his goalscoring record and recent guilty plea to assualting his girlfriend, I doubt there'll be many takers.
Do you agree/disagree? Is someone missing from the list? That's what the comment box is for!