England’s Worst Ever All Time XI hunts around for all the one-game wonders, the flops and the calamitous. England are probably more famous for celebrating mediocrity than anything else.
- They have to have played for England and been a flop.
England’s Worst Ever All Time XI
England have dabbled with a whole host of ‘keepers over the years but the late 1980s and 90s was a particularly popular period for one-game wonders. Gordon Banks followed by Peter Shilton meant that England’s number 1 spot was tied up for a few decades. Between the years 1989 and 1995, England tried Phil Parkes, Jimmy Rimmer, Joe Corrigan, Nigel Spink, Gary Bailey and Dave Beasant. They played a combined 16 times for England. However, they all escape the wrath of England’s Worst All Time XI thanks to Scott Carson’s mistake in the Euro Qualifier against Croatia. In his second of four international caps, Carson parried a ball from a Niko Kranjčar shot into his own net, with England losing 3-2. He never lived that down.
There’s quite a few nearly-rans in this defensive category. Earl ‘The Pearl’ Barrett, Gary Charles, Derek Stathom, Alan Kennedy, and even Frank Lampard senior deserve a mention for their combined 13 caps. Even Carlton Palmer couldn’t make this England’s Worst Ever All Time XI
Centre-backs have been filled by Colin Cooper and Jeff Blockley. Middlesbrough and Notts Forest legend, Cooper was a great club player who never quite made the step up. He got the call up from Terry Venables but only lasted two games before being dropped.
Blockley was famous for two things. First, his beastly sideburns, and secondly, for Arsenal manager Bertie Mee describing him as ‘the worst mistake he ever made as Arsenal manager’. He played one game for England in 1972 against Yugoslavia. Rather fittingly, after retiring he became a salesman for a power transmission company.
It is hard to put a man with over 700 club appearances in this team but Keith Curle makes the cut for his less than inspiring performances for England. He spent a lot of his playing years battling it out in the lower leagues but managed an international call-up in 1992. He played right-back for four games and was a key part of England’s disastrous Euro ’92 campaign.
The famous left-sided problem
England have noriously struggled to fill the left sided roles, which led to a number of less than desirable trialists. Warren Barton, Paul Konchesky, Zak Knight, Nicky Shorey, and Stephen Warnock all had a crack during the 90s but we have decided to award the spot to Michael Gray. He was one of the few players to represent England but not play in the top flight. The former Sunderland man made three appearances for England under Kevin Keegan who admired his no-nonsense style.
There’s been some interesting selections over the years in the midfield area. Paul Bracewell played three games in the mid 80s. The 90s saw three Blackburn players shoehorned into the side with no success; Stuart Ripley, Jason Wilcox and Tim Sherwood played a combined 8 times for England. Before that, Paul Stewart had a handful of games without making an impact. In more recent times, Jack Rodwell, Leon Osman, and Danny Drinkwater have all had a shot before being bombed off. We have gone for four players with something unique about their careers other than crashing and burning for their country.
David White was another one of Graham Taylor’s ‘stab in the dark’ selections and he only managed one game. White was better known as a striker but also adapted to the ring wing at times. He was called up for the friendly against Spain, in a night that arguably defined his career. In the first few minutes, White took the ball around the ‘keeper but missed the target. He was later substituted for Paul Merson, never to be seen again in an England shirt. After his retirement from the game he set up his own recycling and waste management company “White Recycling”. The company went into receivership in 2015.
Trouble followed him around
We have opted for Joey Barton as our controversial central midfielder. He was called up for his one and only game in 2007 by Steve McLaren. Barton’s CV is littered with disciplinary issues; twice convicted for violent offences, serving some prison time for one of those, charged with violent conduct three times by the FA, a two-match suspended ban for describing Thiago Silva of Paris Saint-Germain as looking like an “overweight ladyboy”. To cap it all off, on 26 April 2017, Barton was banned from football for 18 months for placing a number of bets on football matches. That spelled the end of his playing career and began a time as a manager.
Andy Gray, not the controversial football pundit, but former Palace striker turned midfielder makes the central midfield slot next to Barton. His selection in 1991 gave Sunday league players all over the country hope. Gray was famous for his long throw years before Rory Delap was knee high to a grasshopper. His CV of clubs is varied; Corinthian Casuals, Dulwich Hamlet, Falkirk, Marbella, Bury and most famously, Crystal Palace.
Some will consider Steve Guppy as the harshest selection of the lot, especially if they’re a Leicester fan. But let’s face it, his one game against Belgium under Keegan was less than impressive. Keegan described him as “a little bit like a left-sided David Beckham”. A little bit, Kevin. However, Guppy still holds the record for being the only footballer to have played for England under-21, England semi-pro, England B and the full England teams.
England went through a phase in the 80s and 90s of having a target man and dabbled with a few. Brian Deane, John Fashanu, Mick Harford, David Hirst all played a handful of games before falling by the wayside. Surprisingly Stan Collymore only played a few games for his country too. Instead we have gone for Francis Jeffers, who suffered possibly the quickest rise and fall in England’s history, and Michael Ricketts in this England’s Worst Ever All Time XI.
The rise of Francis Jeffers was impressive. He was the joint top scorer for England under-21s with 13 goals from 16 appearances, a record he shares with Alan Shearer. He made his Everton debut at the age of 16 and banged in 18 goals for them in just 49 appearances. Since his Everton days, he has scored just 22 goals in 12 seasons (235 games) and has tried to resurrect his career at a number of clubs around the world. Poor old Francis. Jeffers has one cap for England national team to his name, scoring a consolation goal in a woeful defeat to Australia.
The quickest fall from grace
Michael Ricketts had a slower rise to stardom than Jeffers but his single England cap led to one of the sharpest falls in football. Ricketts was a tall, heavy and strong striker, very much in the Emile Heskey mould. After winning promotion for Bolton, he became one of the top strikers in the country for about four months. He scored the winning goal at Old Trafford, and completely tormented the Champions’ defence for 90 minutes. He reached 15 goals by February, and got the nod for a friendly against Holland. Ricketts career then went into freefall. He didn’t find the net again all season. He retired at 32, ending his career at Tranmere, having scored just 33 more league goals in the 8 years since his England cap.
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