As the iconic Euro '96 song belted out by comedians Baddiel and Skinner goes, three Lions on the shirt, Jules Rimet still gleaming. It was all hazy sunshine, rainbows and clear blue skies back in the summer of 1996 when England had a team they could be proud of.
The whole country came together to witness what was to be a near perfect tournament for the host nation. Under the helm of Terry Venables, England had a wonderful passing side with natural talent and a solid back four. It featured the likes of ex-Arsenal keeper David Seaman and Tony Adams.
Meanwhile, the midfield included one of England’s all-time greats in the form of Paul Gascoigne. Ex-Manchester United forward Teddy Sheringham and Alan Shearer completed what was on paper a fearsome front line. But those were the glory days and as night turns into day, England is struggling to compete at the highest level.
Just take some of the last few tournaments which England have reached. It is all well and good breezing through the qualifying groups beating teams such as Andorra and San Marino. But when showtime rolls around, those fearsome lions project little more than a small whimper. They limp out with hardly a stir as was clearly demonstrated in the most recent World Cup.
In a group containing Italy, Costa Rica and Uruguay, England couldn't manage to pick up a single victory. Whether it’s the weight of expectations they carried on their footballing shoulders or a simple lack of quality, they came home as quickly as they flew out to Brazil. Fundamentally, it boils down to the players who are coming through the ranks or in the present squad. Most of them are nowhere near good enough to even polish the boots of Messi, Suarez, Pirlo, Ronaldo and co.
England has produced some wonderful players over the years but they have also had their fair share of lousy ones. Here are the 20 worst England players to ever pull on the jersey.
20 Anthony Gardner
Anthony who? That’s what many English fans asked themselves as they scratched their heads vigorously. Creeping into the top 20 is one of the worst English defenders of all time. His place is well deserved thanks to his bumbling performances at the heart of the defence. Gardner made the England starting line up under the reign of Swedish figure Sven Goran Eriksson.
19 Jay Bothroyd
Having swanned off to the depths of Thai football in order to seek first team football, Jay Bothroyd is another one for the scrapheap. As if playing for Muandthong United was not enough of a tongue twister, Bothroyd went on to have an unsuccessful spell with Premier League side Queens Park Rangers.
18 Carlton Palmer
A lanky defensive midfielder, Carlton Palmer managed to attain a staggering 18 caps for England. Yet this does not detract from his woeful performances which made him seem out of touch. His England career only lasted 12 months between 1992 and 1993 at the peak of then manager Graham Taylor’s powers.
17 Andy Sinton
Andrew Sinton was a tricky and nifty winger who bounced around a string of clubs including Sheffield Wednesday and Queens Park Rangers. He bamboozled defences, not to mention manager Graham Taylor who started him 12 times for his country.
16 Michael Ricketts
Considered to be one of the worst Three Lions players ever, ex-Bolton man Michael Ricketts is certainly up there. In spite of the fact that he played up front for the Trotters, he was in a rich vein of form which led to his call up.
15 Seth Johnson
Former Derby County midfielder Seth Johnson had an injury ravaged career but this did not stop him from making the Three Lions team. He earned the right to put on the white shirt in November 2000 which turned out to be his only call up.
14 Richard Wright
13 Zat Knight
Ex-Bolton defender Zat Knight comes low on the pecking order when it comes to central defenders. Yet this disastrous defender managed to play for England.
12 David White
Another one to forget is midfielder David White. At Manchester City he had the ability to turn up the flair. This was largely in part thanks to his dancing feet and tricky runs which dazzled defences up and down the country. Yet, Graham Taylor somehow called him up for the national side in a friendly match against the Spanish.
11 Gavin McCann
Gavin McCann started just the once for England in 2001 when he played against Spain. The former Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa player enjoyed quite a long playing career which also included playing for Sunderland.
10 Scott Carson
First, there was the wally with the brolley in the shape of Steve McLaren. Then there was Carson the Clown. Making only a handful of appearances for his country, Scott Carson is not let off lightly.
He burst onto the scene against Austria in 2007. The former West Bromwich Albion shot stopper will mostly be remembered for his calamitous display for England against Croatia. This was the same game where McLaren was pictured on the touchline with umbrella firmly in hand to combat the British weather. He gifted a goal to Croatia as the ball slipped through his hands and as a result England never qualified for Euro 2008.
9 Michael Ball
The Phantom of the Opera star and singer of the same name could have been more terrifying instead of former Everton man Michael Ball. This full back was around at exactly the same time as ex-Charlton Athletic defender Chris Powell. He was to make his debut against Spain in 2001.
8 Michael Gray
The left back position was always a tricky one to fill. Nonetheless, England has produced a string of impressive players in this position such as the grit of Stuart Pearce and the energy of Ashley Cole. However, there was a big gap between these particular players and the manager at the time Kevin Keegan had a dilemma.
7 Geoff Thomas
One of the all-time worst strikes in an England shirt, Geoff Thomas still managed to pull on the white shirt nine times. The former Crystal Palace player formed part of Graham Taylor’s team during the early 1990’s which of course included the not so legendary Carlton Palmer. His waif like figure and gait like walk ensured he was almost pedestrian like at times.
6 Andy Gray
No, we are not talking about the controversial Sky TV pundit. After all, he was Scottish, but there was also an Englishman in the form of Andy Gray. Having played together at Crystal Palace with Geoff Thomas, Gray earned a single solitary cap for his efforts.
5 Stuart Ripley
Former Blackburn Rovers winger Stuart Ripley only managed to accumulate two caps during his England career. In fact, they came within the space of half a decade which is even more bizarre.
4 Keith Curle
Former Manchester City defender Keith Curle hardly made an impression in his England playing career. He made his debut whilst under the tutelage of Graham Taylor during 1992. He was played at right back which was not his normal position for his club.
3 Brian Deane
There are those players who are able to step up to the plate on the international stage and those who don’t. Brian Deane was definitely one of the latter as he appeared as many times as there are lions on the England shirt. The former Sheffield United marksman cut a forlorn figure up front which was the opposite of his club form. Two of his caps were against New Zealand where he still was not able to find the back of the net.
2 Steve Guppy
With only two England caps under his belt, former Leicester City player Steve Guppy was utilized under the reign of Kevin Keegan. He had a decent spell whilst playing under Martin O’Neill at Filbert Street where he played alongside Emile Heskey as well as Neil Lennon.
1 Francis Jeffers
One of the bright shining stars in England at one time, Francis Jeffers was set for big things. He had impressed at U21 level and was banging in goals left right and centre. Yet for all this, he tops the list as he soon turned out to be a flop.
His career spanned a dozen clubs across four different countries including Everton and Arsenal. He moved to the Gunners for a fee in the region of $14 million but he was never to repay the Arsenal fans.
Unfortunately for Jeffers, he only made one appearance in a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Australia. Ironically, Jeffers scored England's only goal of the game and it would be his only goal, in his only appearance for the Three Lions.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!