5 footballers who were fantastic at the club level but underperformed with their national team
- Some truly great football players have had contrasting success at club and international level.
- Let's have a look at some legends who failed to come through for their nations.
Fans often get frustrated when they see outstanding players failing to impress at the international level while excelling for their clubs. Some players are capable of gelling with any team or tactics, while others fail to perform with a change in their setting. There is a dip in their performance level with their national teams owing to different playing patterns of their club and country squads.
One reason behind this could be a lack of understanding with national teammates. Another reason could be that players are tasked to work with very different tactics and styles in their national teams compared to their clubs. Players only train with their national squads for a few weeks in a year. Many of them find it difficult to adjust to the strengths and weaknesses of their teammates in such a short span of time.
In international games, players have that extra bit of pressure on their shoulders of performing for their country too. The burden of expectations simply becomes too much for some players.
The players in the list below were all great for their respective clubs but somehow failed to replicate that form for their national teams. Let's have a look at these players who were stars at the club level but failed to come through for their own country.
#5 Robbie Fowler
A true Liverpool great, Robbie Fowler had a hugely successful club career. He ended his career being the seventh-highest scorer in Premier League history. Fowler scored a career total of 252 goals, the majority of which came in a 9-year spell with Liverpool.
Fowler appeared for England in three major tournaments - Euro 1996, Euro 2000, and World Cup 2002. He failed to find the back of the net in any of them. Despite his glittering career at the club level, Fowler only managed 26 appearances and seven goals for the 'Three Lions'. All of his seven goals for the national team came in international friendlies.
#4 Nicolas Anelka
Nicolas Anelka had somewhat of an enigmatic career. A skillful forward, Anelka spent most of his career switching clubs in different leagues of the world. The list of his former clubs - Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Juventus suggests that he was highly rated by the coaches of his time.
Anelka's 69 appearances for the French national team indicates that he had a fair share of international games too, but he failed to impress for 'Les Blues'. Anelka never scored for France in a World Cup or Euros. The forward only scored 14 goals at a scoring rate far below his club football heroics.
#3 Franck Ribery
In the aftermath of Zinedine Zidane's retirement in 2006, Franck Ribery was France's new outstanding talent. He was expected to lead France to a new era of success, but he never managed to do so. He had a terrible showing at Euros 2008.
Ribery was an absolute disaster at the 2010 World Cup and failed once again at Euro 2012. He was ruled out of the 2014 World Cup due to a back injury and later announced his retirement with just 16 goals in 81 appearances for the French national team.
#2 Ian Wright
Quite akin to Robbie Fowler, Ian Wright had a very successful club career - scoring 305 career goals in 526 First Division and Premier League appearances. Wright spent about 15 years as a professional football player. An Arsenal legend, Wright endured a hard time at the international level.
Despite being the Premier League top scorer for almost every year in his time, Wright only managed 9 goals in 33 appearances for England. Out of his 9 international goals, 4 came in one game - against an inarguably weak San Marino.
#1 Paul Scholes
Manchester United great Paul Scholes was part of England's golden generation which flattered to deceive. Scholes was arguably England's most talented player but he failed to impress for the national team. A mid-field maestro capable of controlling games on his own, he never really came through for the 'Three Lions'.
During his career with England, Scholes was often pushed wide on the left wing to accumulate Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in the mid-field. He was largely ineffective in the position throughout his career and ended up with only 14 goals in 66 appearances for England and no trophies to boot.