One Cap Wonders England XI

Roy Hodgson could well hand the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Carl Jenkinson and Leon Osman their first caps on Wednesday in a rather low-key friendly between England and Sweden, but will they be able to cement their place in the Three Lions Squad or will they just be a flash in the pan and challenge for a place in our One Cap Wonders team below.

Goalkeeper – Alex Stepney

Alex Stepney may be a legend in the Stretford End and one of the stars of Manchester United’s European Cup winning team of 1968, but the Surrey stopper was unable to cement his place in the England setup that possessed some magnificent goalkeeping talent at the time. Stepney was almost third in line to get the number one shirt as Sir Alf Ramsay’s World Cup winners were spoilt for choice with Gordon Banks spearheading the Three Lions rearguard.

However, Stepney, who played 433 times for the Red Devils, donned the England shirt in a 3-1 friendly victory over Sweden in what was a magnificent week for the then 25-year-old, as it came days before United lifted the European Cup for the first time in their history.

Left Back – David Unsworth

A no-nonsense defender, David Unsworth is perhaps mostly known for his ability from 12 yards, but the former Everton left-back did venture into the International arena for a solitary appearance along with a brace of other stars in a 2-1 victory over Japan at Wembley in 1995.

He was in a side that also handed first caps to Stan Collymore and Gary Neville, but Unsworth was unable to cement his place in the England setup under Terry Venables like Neville, and was not seen again as he returned to Merseyside to complete a decent domestic career, which saw him become a mainstay of the Toffees defence on two separate tenures at the club.

Centre Back – Neil Ruddock

One not to shy away from the limelight, Neil Ruddock is now often seen partaking in the odd reality TV show or providing comical stories from his colourful football career, but in 1994, ‘Razor’ had accomplished his footballing dream as Terry Venables handed him a starting berth against Nigeria in a friendly.

Having made a name for himself at Liverpool, Ruddock was handed the chance by Venables, but he was never to be pictured in an England shirt again as he tumbled down the pecking order, with many believing his weight problems may have scuppered more potential caps.

Centre Back – Anthony Gardner

When George Graham signed Anthony Gardner for £1 million from Port Vale, Tottenham Hotspur had appeared to have signed a class act and someone that could become a mainstay of their defence and could progress to a fully-fledged international defender. However, he didn’t materialise into the new Gary Mabbutt and an injury-plagued time at White Hart Lane would affect his career.

Having had a polished season at the Lane in the 2003-2004 season, Gardner was handed his chance by Sven-Goran Eriksson and replaced John Terry as a half-time substitute in a 1-0 defeat to Sweden, but that 45 minutes would be the only time Gardner would gain, and now plying his trade at Sheffield Wednesday, is likely to stay in the one-cap wonder list.

Right Back – Mike Phelan

Now seen marauding the technical area as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Old Trafford, Mike Phelan will safely slot into right-back in our One Cap Wonder XI as the former Manchester United defender was handed his solitary cap by Bobby Robson in a 0-0 draw with Italy in 1989 at Wembley.

Having impressed at Burnley and Norwich, Phelan was brought in by Ferguson at Old Trafford to stiffen up the rearguard and he certainly impressed Robson who elected to call him up for the England squad, but his 45 minutes as an international were instantly forgettable, as he replaced Bryan Robson in a fairly uneventful contest with the Azzurri.

Left Midfield – Mark Walters

Plying his trade at Aston Villa in the early part of his career, Mark Walters caught the eye of Rangers and his move north of the border would prove to be the catalyst for his England call-up, as in 1991 he received the nudge from Graham Taylor to join up with the international squad.

It was a flash in the pan for the tricky winger though, as after making an appearance in England’s fairly low-key 1-0 victory over New Zealand in June, he was not seen again in the ranks, but did go on to become an integral player for both Rangers and later on down the line at Liverpool.

Central Midfield – Seth Johnson

Dubbed one of England’s future stars, Seth Johnson’s big-money move to Leeds United would surely be the stepping stone to a glittering career with the Three Lions squad, but the centre-midfielder’s career would plummet the same way as his price tag during the 2000’s.

Signed by Leeds for £7 million, Johnson had already made an appearance for England whilst at Derby County when playing against Italy in 2000, but his career went on a downward spiral as some severe injuries would see him spend more time on the treatment table and ultimately he was forced to retire in 2007.

Central Midfield – Joey Barton

Where do we start. Joey Barton has certainly made more headlines in recent years for his off-the-pitch antics, but amidst all the Scouser’s misdemeanours he has that coveted England appearance and although he probably feels himself that he deserves more, to this day he can safely sit in our centre-midfield berth.

Having already represented England at U-21 level, Barton was drafted into the elite squad in 2007, but his 78th minute substitution of Frank Lampard in a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford would be his only game time to date and the headline-hugger is not likely to gain any more by the end of his career.

Right Midfield – Bill Nicholson

Idolised by all at Tottenham Hotspur, Bill Nicholson’s achievements mainly came at White Hart Lane, but in 1951 the speedy winger was handed his chance to shine on the international arena and he certainly did just that in a game against Portugal at Goodison Park.

It only took Nicholson 19 seconds to get on the scoresheet, as with his first touch he found the back of the net, so easily makes it in as a one-cap wonder. He could have made more appearances, but his heart was at Spurs and many times he opted out of an international call-up to get himself fit for his club.

Centre Forward – Alan Sunderland

A name that brings a smile to Arsenal fans around the country, Alan Sunderland’s career maybe based around that winning FA Cup Final goal in 1979, but during his time at Highbury, the speedy sharp-shooter was also given his chance by Ron Greenwood a year later in 1980.

Called up to the squad for a friendly with Australia in Sydney, Sunderland was a part of a 2-1 success Down Under, but he would head back to North London and would never been seen gracing the international scene again.

Centre Forward – David Nugent

England aficionados will always have a slight giggle to themselves when thinking about David Nugent’s time in a Three Lions shirt, as he is only one of three players to have one cap and one goal, but his strike against Andorra in a 3-0 win was somewhat comical in the Euro 2008 qualifier.

Having come on as a late substitute, Nugent’s poaching abilities became evident, as Jermain Defoe’s shot trickled under the goalkeeper and was set to go in, but the then-Preston player decided to kick the ball over the line from about 1mm to claim the goal and grab his first and only international strike to date.

Posted: Monday, 12th November 2012
Author: Steve Chambo

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