Receiving an international call-up has always been a major deal. For many, getting the opportunity to represent your country is one that is simply the pinnacle of a career in football.
Most players dream of the chance to wear their nation's colors, to do their country proud and to establish themselves as a national icon. Getting to a World Cup final, a European Championship, an AFCON final, a Copa America or even breaking into the team with an appearance in a friendly - these are all milestones that can help shape a player. That said, the dream doesn't always work out so well for a lot of performers.
After all, not everyone can become a Geoff Hurst, a Pele, a Johan Cruyff or even a Robbie Keane. Of course, the best of the best will always rise to the top, playing with pride, passion and gusto each and every time they represent their country on the international stage, but there are others who simply flounder when a chance comes their way.
You know the ones - performers who flop with inaccurate finishing, unfortunate own goals and even consistently poor performances, time after time. The majority of this rare breed are unknown quantities, players who appear from nowhere to rise the crest of a wave into a sphere that's both alien and overwhelming at the same time, with some far too out of their depth to do anything of any worth.
The rest, on the other hand, are established stars who fail to reach the levels many know they really should. After all, football is a game filled with troughs and pitfalls at nearly every turn, and making it at a club level while simultaneously doing the business for your home nation is not something that always comes easily.
So, without further ado, let's get cracking into our list - feel free to comment with any honorable mentions, below.
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15 Stephane Guivarc'h
Despite featuring in a few polls as one of the worst strikers to ever play in the Premier League, Guivarc'h was once the toast of Ligue 1 in France and much sought-after by some of England's biggest clubs. Why, Liverpool and Newcastle United found themselves battling for his signature back in 1998, only for the Magpies to win out in the end.
However, when he pulled on the French shirt on home soil for their triumphant World Cup performance, things just didn't go his way. Despite scoring on his international debut in a friendly against South Africa earlier that same season, he looked a shadow of his former self on the biggest stage of them all as he failed to score a single goal and was substituted several times due to his unconvincing displays. When he did finally arrive at St James' Park, he wasn't given time to settle and eventually faded from the limelight.
Yes, that's right Luizao actually won a World Cup medal. Though it's hard to tell whether he was totally awful or simply inadequate in comparison to the rest of the Selecao squad leading up to the 2002 win, it's clear that he wasn't good enough to extend his flirtation with the national set-up any longer than 17 caps - an indication of just how lucky he was to be called up in the first place, perhaps?
Of course, he did score two goals for Brazil against Venezuela in qualification, but his contributions were simply not good enough. After all, this was a side which boasted the burgeoning talents of Ricardo Kaka, Ronaldinho, Denilson and so many other top stars - it's little wonder the bland Luizao gets forgotten.
13 Brian Deane
Despite becoming the first-ever player to play in the Premier League, Deane had a torrid time playing for England. Picking up just three caps in total, the now retired star cut a sorry figure up front, despite enjoying quite a successful club career with Doncaster Rovers, Sheffield United, Leeds United and even Benfica over in Portugal, among others.
Alas, he couldn't bring any of his goal-scoring form to the international stage as the likes of Stuart Pearce, Gary Lineker and Ian Wright outshone him to earn a more long-lasting impression.
12 Cristian Ledesma
It's probably not much of a coincidence that Ledesma wasn't picked up by Argentina before managing to earn just one cap for Italy during a rather protracted, fluctuating period. The interests of the Azzurri were, no doubt, piqued after the player had become a key figure for SS Lazio over the years, and he was duly given a chance in a 1-1 draw against Romania back in 2010.
Unfortunately, the Biancazzurri star failed to impress that night alongside a couple of other debutantes as Italy failed to test Romania for much of the match. In short, he missed his opportunity to make a splash, and has not been seen in action for his adopted homeland since.
11 Giuseppe Galderisi
A Serie A title winner with Hellas Verona in 1985, Galderisi scored as many as 11 league goals in that fateful season, and it's a win that sits alone in the Gialloblu trophy cabinet as they have not won it since. Indeed, it was largely for his eye-catching domestic performances that the now 52-year-old was included as a squad member for Italy's foray into the 1986 World Cup finals, but he simply couldn't replicate that form again.
Italy suffered a disastrous spell that year and were made to pay for a lackluster forward line as they were eliminated by France in the Round of 16. Galderisi failed to score once for his country in 10 appearances overall, although he did grab an assist against South Korea in their 3-2 Group Stage win in the World Cup, a small consolation for an unfulfilled international career.
10 Jesper Blomqvist
Back in 1994, Blomqvist was a member of the Swedish team that managed to finish third in USA at the World Cup. At the time, he was playing for IFK Goteborg in the Allsvenskan, just a few years before he would make his big-money move to Old Trafford and Manchester United. A winner of the Champions League, FA Cup and Champions League, his CV was glittering with honors for years, but his international journey never scaled the same heights despite his early promise.
Indeed, with 30 caps to his name throughout, the now retired star was picked quite frequently to represent the Swedes, but in all those years, he failed to net even once - a reflection of just how inadequate and barren a player he was for the Blagult.
9 Ade Akinbiyi
Although his international chances were hindered by in-house favouritism and misguided selections from the managerial staff, Akinbiyi didn't exactly stay and fight for his place. In truth, it could also be said that if he had been good enough for the team, he would have been picked over so many others, and he would have earned a lot more than his single cap.
On the face of it, the former Norwich City striker saw his club form let him down. Despite carving out a long career, he was never a prolific striker and that certainly proved to be a black mark against him over the years. Credit to him for continuing to play with Colwyn Bay into his 40s, but it seems as though he simply couldn't cut it on the international stage.
8 Francis Jeffers
Widely regarded as one of the unluckiest, if not worst, players to pull on an England jersey, Jeffers also holds the unwanted moniker for one of the country's biggest youth disappointments of the last 15-20 years. Indeed, the ex-Arsenal and Everton star made his international debut in the same game as Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney, and even managed to score in that game.
Sadly, though, Jeffers simply couldn't live up to the hype as he suffered from the weight of expectation that was being foisted upon him, despite having scored a record-equaling amount of goals for the Three Lions' U21s. Currently a coach at Everton, his career wound down at quite an early age when he was only 32, but he really didn't offer much outside of his potential, despite making a splash in his first, and only, senior international appearance.
7 Kieron Dyer
It might seem harsh to include Dyer in our list, but his record almost speaks for itself. Having featured 33 times for the Three Lions, the ex-Newcastle United midfielder was a regular contributor to the England set-up between 1999 and 2007. That said, he was not a really successful part of the team as he failed to score even a single goal in his whole time there.
His saving grace, perhaps ironically, was the fact his career was plagued by injury. Without a doubt, it's a tremendous pity that he couldn't push himself as far as he would have liked, but the fact remains that he didn't make a big impression whenever he did play.
6 Conor Sammon
An experiment gone wrong during Giovanni Trapattoni's tenure as head of the Republic of Ireland squad, Sammon never really fit the bill as a regular goalscorer for the Green Army. A stop-gap measure in truth, his abilities were really put to the test when he was called up for a friendly clash with Poland before being thrown into the starting 11 at the last minute.
His move from League of Ireland outfit UCD to playing regular Championship football was a testament to his hard work and dedication, but the 28-year-old Rotherham United striker was a figure of ridicule on the international stage, and it's a bit of a head-scratcher to think why he was selected in the first place.
5 Michael Ricketts
Another England international to make the cut, Ricketts is often derided for his sub-par display for his country. His quality in the goal-scoring department on the club scene led many to believe that he could snatch goals easily enough in the brilliant white jersey of his homeland, but he struggled to do just that.
Hitting the net regularly for Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League and Championship, he was deemed good enough by Sven Goran-Eriksson, so he soon featured in his first and only match for England in a friendly against the Netherlands. Following that uninspired performance, where he played only 45 minutes, his form hit an all-time low and he struggled to score with the same regularity as before.
4 Rafael Scheidt
Ratcheting up as many as four appearances for the Brazil national side (although one of these came against Barcelona), he had a very short-lived international career. In truth, his performances were neither incredibly woeful or notably outstanding, they were in fact sublimely Scheidt - that is to say, er...mediocre.
It has since transpired that his rare sporting of the famous yellow jersey was intended to boost his value before his sale to Celtic where he became somewhat of a laughing stock and a real waste of money. With the value of his caps in question and having not been called up ever since, it's fair to say Scheidt is certainly up there among the worst Brazilians to play for the country.
3 Bernard Diomede
An often forgotten winner of the World Cup with France in 1998, Diomede's name often gets shrouded by the dazzling lights of Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf. Underused and neglected during his time with Liverpool, after securing a £3 million transfer to Merseyside, he saw his career suffer greatly.
In fact, he made just eight underwhelming appearances for Les Bleus in total and was only a bit-part player during their big win on home soil all those years ago - evidence that suggests he wasn't the same player who once helped Auxerre win a league and cup double in the 1995/96 campaign.
2 Ariel Garce
Having made just one appearance prior to his inclusion in the 2010 World Cup finals, Ariel Garce was arguably the oddest ever squad member to be picked by La Albiceleste. Picked by the ever-controversial Diego Maradona purely based on a dream he had about Garce lifting the trophy after they had emerged triumphant on the final day - if that doesn't confirm how poor a player he was, read on.
Having been selected to represent his country in South Africa, Garce ended up not making any appearances, which just goes to show how awful he really must have been. Aside from his single cap, earned against Haiti in a meaningless friendly, Garce never again returned to play for the famous South American outfit
1 Chris Iwelumo
Fans of the Scotland national team won't remember Iwelumo's stint as a representative with much fondness at all. In fact, his name probably sends shivers down their spines in the same way any forward being hacked down by Celtic's Scott Brown does. In short, his displays for the Scots were an unmitigated disaster. In all, he managed to scrape together as many as four appearances before he was eventually forgotten about.
Undoubtedly, he won't ever like reflecting back on his sitter from two yards against Norway in 2008 just as much as fans dislike remembering it - it truly was a horrendous miss, and on his debut no less. Thankfully for Iwelumo, he had a long and pretty decent club career that saw him play for clubs like Charlton Athletic, Stoke City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley, too.
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