English football clubs have produced a number of talented footballers from their academies who went on to perform well for their clubs. However, it’s a shame given their undoubted talent on the domestic circuit that they didn’t really fit into the England national team.
With the football World Cup on the horizon and the England national team just 5 months away from picking their 23 men squad, we take a look at 5 players who were sensational for their clubs but somehow never quite made the cut for the three lions.
All the players in the list were once hailed as England’s next big thing but never made it on the big stage.
There are a few other examples of young English players, most notably Manchester City’s Paul Lake who showed immense potential after leading City out of the Second Division when he was just 21.
He was hailed by some as a successor to Bryan Robson as an all-action midfielder. Lake tore his anterior cruciate ligament (sounds painful), played 4 games in 6 years and Robson was succeeded by Carlton Palmer, something we should all mourn.
#5 Andy Cole
One of the best strikers of the Premier League era, some argue that Cole’s goal-scoring stats can rival anyone's but then there are those of us who watched him play.
For all the jokes levelled at Cole, his scoring record for Newcastle was phenomenal; 55 goals in 70 games! Cole’s club form earned him a call-up from Terry Venables but he drew a blank and didn’t make the cut for Euro ’96.
But by that time, Cole had moved to Manchester United where despite playing alongside Cantona, Giggs & Beckham, he mustered 17 goals each in his first 2 full seasons.
Eventually, Cole rallied to score 93 goals in his Manchester United career, but some of his misses were hugely disappointing, with the most notable among his dismal showings being his barn door performance at West Ham that ultimately cost his side the 1995 League title.
His England career was acutely summed up by Glenn Hoddle who claimed he needed “6 or 7 chances to score.” Predictably, he never found the net for Hoddle or Kevin Keegan (for whom he’d performed so well at Newcastle) and he missed out on the ’98 World Cup and Euro 2000.
Sven-Goran Eriksson offered Cole a fresh chance but he bottled that as well. Cole started in Eriksson’s early World Cup qualifiers and actually scored (but it was only against Albania). By the time qualification was secured, Cole had dropped down the pecking order.
Finally, Eriksson omitted Cole from his World Cup squad and laughably, within an hour of the announcement, Cole declared he was retiring from International football. Andy’s record of 1 goal from 15 caps really says everything. But he’s still got an enviable medal collection.