Here at Rush Football we like to praise successful players, but also reflect on those whose careers didn’t quite take off…
Therefore, we have compiled a list of various players that were good enough to play for England, but not good enough to play more than once. So here it is, a bunch of players that you may not have even known got an England call-up.
1. Kevin Davies
Known for his physical presence and love for a strong tackle, Davies has committed more fouls than any other player in Premier League history. Maybe this is what caught Fabio Capello’s eye and made him decide that Kevin Davies, aged 33 at the time, was the man to help ensure England’s qualification for Euro 2012. This made him the oldest England debutant for 60 years (since Leslie Compton, who was aged 38 for his England debut in 1950!) He came on in the 69th minute against Montenegro and in typical Kevin Davies fashion picked up a yellow card. England drew 0-0 and Kevin wasn’t called up again.
2. Joey Barton
The outspoken midfielder made getting an England call-up difficult for himself after the 2006 World Cup by suggesting that certain English players “cashed in” on the unsuccessful tournament by releasing autobiographies. Despite this controversy, Barton’s club form earned him a place in the England squad. In fact, towards the end of a friendly against Spain, Joey was subbed on for one of the players he had recently criticised, Frank Lampard, who had openly voiced his disapproval for Barton’s antics. Anyway, England lost 1-0 and once again, that would be the last time Barton represented his country.
3. Francis Jeffers
Jeffers is the joint top-scorer for England under-21s, sharing the honour with none other than Alan Shearer. After scoring 13 goals in 16 appearances for the youth team, it must have been a no-brainer to give him a place in the full national squad. Francis’ chance came in 2003 in the form of a friendly against Australia, and he did not disappoint, bagging himself a consolation goal in a 3-1 defeat. Maybe his performance was overshadowed and tainted by the loss, but Jeffers didn’t get another England call-up.
4. David Nugent
After some impressive performances for the England under-21 team, Steve McClaren chose Nugent to replace an injured Darren Bent in the England senior team. In a Euro 2008 qualifying match against Andorra, David was subbed on late into the second half and had his chance to prove himself for his country. In the 93rd minute, with England already leading 2-0, Jermain Defore had a shot that clipped the goalkeeper and was about to roll over the line when Nugent saw his name in lights and took it upon himself to strike the ball into the back of the empty net, effectively robbing Defoe of a goal. (Check out the photo below, there wasn’t any doubt, not a defender in sight!) Despite the questionable nature of his goal, David openly expressed joy and satisfaction towards his ‘one goal to one game’ ratio, and the England management ensured this record would never be tarnished by never selecting him for an England call-up again.
5. Martin Kelly
Kelly’s England call-up was very uneventful, and that is precisely the reason he is on this list. In 2012, during a match against Norway, Kelly was subbed on in the 88th minute for Phil Jones. And that’s it. He only played a couple of minutes for England, amounting to the shortest ever international career for an English player. However, that’s two more minutes of international football than any of us at Rush Football (at the moment), so good on you Martin!