Top 10 England one-cap wonders
With five uncapped players in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the friendly against Sweden on Wednesday each of the quintet will be desperate to avoid the “one-cap wonder” tag. Many have been fortunate enough to pull on the England shirt but unlucky enough to not get a second chance, here’s ten of the most memorable men to only have one cap adorning their mantle pieces.
10. Kevin Richardson
The midfield maestro that was Kevin Richardson is a bit of an anomaly in this list as he was a very good and successful player. He won the league title with first Everton and the Arsenal and made over 500 football league appearances, largely for top-flight clubs. Richardson was Aston Villa’s captain when he won his only cap in 1994 under Terry Venables, the match couldn’t have gone better with England hammering Greece 5-0, but El Tel had seen enough from the then 31-year-old and he never picked him again.
9. Seth Johnson
Despite being a fairly limited central midfielder, Johnson could potentially have gone on to earn a fair few more caps than his solitary one if it wasn’t for a terrible run of injuries. He pulled on the England shirt during his first spell with Derby in 2000 and it wasn’t till after then that Leeds splashed out £7 million on his services, so after a big move to a top club at the time he could have gone on to be a big success. Fate decreed otherwise though as injuries bit him hard and he ended up retiring at just 28-years-old, which was a shame for him, but few England fans will have been mourning the loss of Seth in the engine room.
8. Mark Walters
A good solid player in the 80s and early 90s, Walters was just never quite judged to be of international quality, apart from when England were touring New Zealand in June 1991. The midfield man had been in superb form for Rangers and was about to move to Liverpool so he could have expected more caps to come as his career seemed to be taking an upward turn. His performance in Auckland during a 1-0 win was to be his only one in an England jersey though.
7. Gavin McCann
If there was ever a journeyman Premier League footballer it was Gavin McCann who managed to spend almost the entirety of his 16 year career in the top flight of English football without making much of an impression on anyone at all. That is except Sven-Goran Eriksson who saw fit to remove Paul Scholes in his first match in charge of England and introduce the 23-year-old McCann against Spain. The ploy was not unsuccessful as the Three Lions strolled to a 3-0 win but Gav had surprisingly not done enough to dislodge Scholes from his midfield berth and he was not seen again in white until he joined Bolton in 2007.
6. Neil Ruddock
For a man who looked much more suited to being on the oche than on a football pitch, Razor Ruddock enjoyed an incredibly successful football career with the likes of Southampton, Spurs and most notably Liverpool. An old-fashioned centre-back in every possible way and an old school footballer in terms of his off-the-field shenanigans, he made one friendly appearance under Venables in 1994. Ruddock maybe lacked the finesse of a Tony Adams or a Gareth Southgate and probably had a waistline that was both of theirs added together.
5. Francis Jeffers
Having become the joint record scorer for the England under-21s alongside Alan Shearer it could have been expected that Franny Jeffers was going to have a long and distinguished England career. However his international career mirrored that of his club one, it promised an awful lot but delivered next to nothing. His only cap came against Australia in 2003, a game more famous for England embarrassingly losing at home to the Aussies. Jeffers scored his country’s only goal in that game but unfortunately it was as forgettable as his career after the age of 21.
4. Mel Sterland
A buccaneering full-back with a rocket of a shot behind him Mel was a popular figure at Sheffield Wednesday throughout the 1980s but although his performances continued to impress, his weight continued to grow giving him the nickname The Flying Pig. He squeezed in an England appearance at the height of his powers, although did go on to perform well for Leeds afterwards. A crowd favourite throughout his career, but unfortunately not of England managers in the 80s and early 90s.
3. Anthony Gardner
The big centre-back spent eight years at Tottenham Hotspur and could only really have been described as a regular starter during one of them, although he only needed this one campaign to see him earn an England call-up. Sven sent him on against Sweden in 2004, England lost the game, Gardner lost his place in the Spurs team and that was the end of that. It has been a slide down to the lower reaches of the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday since then and not even a sniff of international honours on the way down.
2. David Nugent
A number of stats surround the Nuge’s one appearance for England, he was plying his trade in the Championship at the time for Preston North End, and so it was a rare achievement to make the national team from that level. He also became one of only three men to have made one substitute appearance and scored one goal for their country, along with Paul Goddard and the aforementioned Franny Jeffers. The goal was the easiest tap in you will ever see, and despite this feat of poachery, his complete lack of form when he moved up to the Premier League with Portsmouth meant he never got back to international level.
1. Michael Ricketts
No one could blame Sven for picking Ricketts when he did, he was the man in form, he was scoring for fun, and why not try him out for a half against Holland in a friendly? The big striker already had 15 goals in his debut Premier League season when he was called up in February, unfortunately he didn’t impress for England and then failed to score again for the rest of the campaign. His failed half for the Three Lions seemed to drain him of all confidence and he never re-found the scoring form he had shown for the previous 18 months with Bolton. 10 clubs over the next seven years tried to get the best from him and all failed leaving Ricketts cursing his solitary England cap.
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