One cap wonders: England football

Wasted talent or a waste of time?

The England football team is littered with one cap wonders. Whether their fleeting international careers were down to injuries, off-field antics or just being a bit rubbish, here’s our specially selected side.

Chris Kirkland
vs Greece, 2006

Chris Kirkland’s solitary England appearance is probably best remembered more for his dad’s win at the bookies. Eddie Kirkland won £10,000 after placing a bet his then 11-year-old son would play for the national team.

Carl Jenkinson
vs Sweden, 2012

Would he have even got close to the England set-up if he hadn’t made intermittent, and arguably forgettable, appearances for Arsenal? Perhaps it’s unfair to label Jenkinson as the poster boy for ‘big club bias’ when it comes to selecting England squads. Instead, let’s remember him for being given the run-around by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. More on that later.

Ryan Shawcross
vs Sweden, 2012

Shawcross’ England debut in the 74th minute against Sweden was seen as just reward for his consistent performances at the back for Stoke City. But, like the aforementioned Carl Jenkinson, he came across an imperious Zlatan Ibrahimovic. During the centre-half’s time on the pitch, the Swede netted three goals, including an outrageous 30-yard overhead kick. Shawcross hasn’t been seen in an England shirt since.

Neil Ruddock
vs Nigeria, 1994

A no-nonsense defender on the pitch and utter nonsense off it, ‘Razer’ Ruddock’s sole England cap sits alongside a career that included stints at Southampton, Tottenham and Liverpool. He may have had the turning circle of a moon, but he was a handy penalty taker – something England haven’t exactly been full of over the years.

Michael Ball
vs Spain, 2001

Playing for Everton at the time, Ball featured for 45 minutes on his one and only international appearance. Also one half of the pub quiz question ‘Who were the two left-backs who played for England during Sven-Goran Eriksson’s first game in charge?’ The other was Chris Powell.

Seth Johnson
vs Italy, 2000

You might remember this as the fixture that marked David Beckham’s first as captain. Would you have remembered it as midfielder Seth Johnson’s only England cap? Unlikely. The Derby County man would earn a big money move to Leeds United, but injuries forced him to retire aged just 28.

Joey Barton
vs Spain, 2007

Despite always claiming he should’ve been a regular in the England side, Barton’s international career lasted only 12 minutes. Having the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard also vying for a spot in midfield probably didn’t help, even if Barton had been critical of their performances at the 2006 World Cup.

David Dunn
vs Portugal, 2002

Better known for that totally terrible attempt at a rabona against arch-rivals Aston Villa rather than his one cap against Portugal. Dunn has hopefully consoled himself with over 200 Premier League appearances, a League Cup winner’s medal and being a mainstay in funny football compilation videos

Michael Ricketts
vs Holland, 2002

Having smashed the goals in for Bolton Wanderers, Ricketts was given his chance in an England shirt and featured for 45 minutes against the Dutch. He failed to score and his career went into freefall. He didn’t find the back of the net for the rest of the season and, after unable to make the grade follwoing a £3.5 million move to Middlesbrough, later turned out for the likes of Southend, Oldham and Tranmere Rovers.

Francis Jeffers
vs Australia, 2003

One cap, one goal. What more could ‘fox in the box’ Francis Jeffers have done on his England debut? Perhaps scored with the same regularity at club level to merit another call up. Sadly, Jeffers was hampered with injures and unable to reach the promise that saw Aresne Wenger fork out £8 million for his services.

David Nugent
vs Andorra, 2007

Playing for Championship outfit Preston North End, Nugent’s inclusion in the England squad may have raised an eyebrow or two. He was lucky he wasn’t done for fraud during his time on the pitch, prodding home a shot from Jermain Defoe that was already on its way into the net. A lack of form in the Premier League likely resulted in no more appearances for his country, rather than his moment of goal thieving.

Sam Allardyce
vs Slovakia, 2016

Lasting 67 days and one match in the job, Sam Allardyce is Roobla’s choice to manage this side of one cap wonders. His only match in charge may have been a win, but allegations of malpractice saw him leave the hot seat by mutual consent. Whether managing this team will provide scant consolation is debatable.

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