England boasts one of the most competitive leagues in world football and one of the toughest national teams to break into. Earning your first international cap remains a dream for any young, aspiring football player but what if, despite fighting your way to the pinnacle of the game and playing in the Premier League, that call up never comes? There are plenty of current English players without a cap but we decided to take a look at five of the greatest uncapped English players of all time who finished their careers without ever pulling on the famous three lions shirt.
5 best uncapped English players ever
Despite regularly enjoying hot streaks in front of the net, Kevin Campbell was never really considered for a spot in the England set-up. Having shone prominently for the likes of Arsenal, Nottingham Forest, and Everton, Campbell never got the chance at international level.
Injuries always appeared to ruin his good run of form and an emerging forward line comprising top talents like Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, and even Emile Heskey kept Campbell out of the running. Despite having scored 92 goals in the Premier League, it wasn’t enough to earn a call-up throughout his 3-decade long career. It makes Campbell the leading striker in Premier League history to never have appeared for the Three Lions and one of the best uncapped English players ever.
Having anchored the Manchester United backline for almost a decade, it’s amazing to think that Steve Bruce has never played for the actual England squad. Aside from an England B appearance in 1987, Bruce was largely forgotten by England managers throughout his career.
It’s hard to understand when many of his defensive colleagues, including the likes of Gary and Phil Neville, broke into the England squad throughout the 1990s. With 3 Premier League titles and 3 FA Cup wins under his belt though, Bruce still enjoyed a successful career as a player as well as establishing himself as a prominent Premier League manager.
For the majority of his career, Alan Wright was one of the underrated workhorses in the Premier League. The former Aston Villa left-back would appear as regularly as clockwork in the top flight putting together consistent performances week after week without making any fuss.
Whilst his smaller frame may have looked limiting, he utilized it to great effect to shut down some of the best strikers in the country. The emergence of talents such as Ashley Cole hindered Wright’s chance to make the position his own as England management continued to overlook the defender. In years gone by, England went on to cap England players like Nicky Shorey and Luke Young in that position whereas Wright remained uncapped. It makes you wonder what he did wrong to get overlooked for an England call-up.
It is amazing to think that Mark Noble hasn’t been able to make a single appearance for the England squad. Having captained West Ham in the top flight for a better part of a decade, the enigmatic midfielder has never gotten the chance to shine on the international scene and with Noble set to retire, he never will now.
His record more than speaks for itself with 54 goals in 455 appearances for The Hammers and the Englishman has proven to be a reliable asset from all set-pieces and anywhere on the park. Noble has continued to make himself available for England even having turned down multiple approaches from the Republic of Ireland to play for their squad. Having been voted West Ham’s Player of the Decade for the 2010s, it’s somewhat of a mystery that Noble hasn’t earned a spot in a Three Lions squad somewhere in his career but, nonetheless, he remains one of the greatest uncapped English players.
If you looked up tenacious in the dictionary, a picture of Kevin Nolan could be sitting next to it. The versatile midfielder could play anywhere in midfield or attack and issue a persistent threat to defenders for the entire 90 minutes. Having displayed an eye for goal with Bolton, Newcastle, and West Ham, Nolan was always a player teams could rely on to get them out of trouble.
At times when Nolan notched double-figure goal campaigns in the Premier League, multiple England managers would opt to choose Championship-based players such as David Nugent and Jay Bothroyd to please media satisfaction. It left Nolan out in the cold though and he finished his career making the most senior appearances in the English top-flight without ever playing for the England squad itself. A real shame!
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