Yesterday I was chatting to one of my elderly neighbours about the future of the England football team and who would most likely be in the next England’s manager’s squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Immediately one of the first players that my neighbour suggested was United’s new defender Phil Jones. It was hard not to agree with him as of course Jones by then we hope along with Chris Smalling will have grown into a regular member of England’s squad and with all fairness to the likes of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand (who will be 33 and 35 respectively by the time of the next world cup) it’s unlikely that they will be involved for the team.
Whilst continuing to speak to my neighbour, I found it interesting that he compared Jones to our old skipper Steve Bruce adding that: ‘unlike Bruce who never played for England, Jones should have the ability to get 70-80 caps easily.’
That got me thinking about former United players who should have played for England. After 10-15 minutes thinking about it today, here are a couple of names that come to mind:
(I am sure there are a few that I have missed out, but feel more than welcome to point this out to me in the comments section. I am aware that some of the late English Busby Babes but for Munich would have had long International careers)
Brian Kidd: Whilst probably United’s most iconic assistant manager ever, despite not being the most prolific of forwards looking back on Kidd’s good career it’s a surprise he only got 2 England caps, both of which came in 1970.
Yes it would be fair to say that his United career ended somewhat on a low following our relegation to the second division back in 1974 but whilst researching for this article, for someone who played for the likes of us, Arsenal and Manchester City you would have thought he would have at least achieved 20-30 England caps.
Gary Pallister: When you consider just how good a defender Pally was it’s somewhat of a crime looking back at it that he only got 22 caps for England. Despite being selected by the late Sir Bobby Robson in 1989 whilst at Middlesbrough in the old second division, due to the quality of defenders England had in the 1990’s,
Pally never really got a look-in due to the likes of quality players such as Tony Adams, Mark Wright and Des Walker to name but a few who were England regulars during the classy centre-back’s prime of his career.
Mike Duxbury: Arguably one of United’s best ever full-backs, for someone who was at Old Trafford for 14 years and made 378 appearances it’s a shame that Duxbury only made 10 England caps. Again alike a lot of players in this little list he suffered due to having competition for places.
Interestingly he made all of his caps in the space of 13 months in the midst of England’s unsuccessful 1984 European Championship Qualifying campaign under Bobby Robson. Sadly for Mike, several mistakes effectively ended his International career before it had really begun.
Lee Sharpe: For someone of his talent, it is perhaps abit of a shame that Sharpey only got 8 caps for England when he had the potential to be a key midfielder at International-level for a number of years.
Despite having competition for places in midfield, surely but for injury and illness he would have become a regular during Graham Taylor’s time in charge of England. There’s no doubt he had the creative mind to succeed and he was a young midfielder capable of scoring goals, something which would have benefited Taylor’s uninspired team back then.
Of course there have been talented United players who have never played for England.
Three that spring to mind are:
Steve Bruce: Unlike many of the players above whose career was blighted by injury, Brucey had a long and successful career and in his prime was one of the best centre-halves in the country.
Strong in the tackle and as brave as they come, he had immense leadership qualities and whilst I am not suggesting he should have captained England, there’s no he was good enough to be a regular for years. Bobby Robson later admitted to making a mistake in not picking him which says it all about the great man.
Jimmy Greenhoff: Unlike his brother Brian (who also played for United), Jimmy who joined United from Stoke surprisingly never played for England and according to my dad was one of the best players in the 70’s not to have done so.
Whilst being a classy but not prolific forward Jimmy – who scored United’s winner in the 1977 FA Cup final – certainly in his prime which probably came when he was at Stoke should have been called up by
Remi Moses: Arriving at United as part of the deal that brought Bryan Robson to the club from West Brom which Ron Atkinson masterminded upon his arrival at the club, Remi was incredibly unlucky both for club and country.
Atkinson rated both players highly and whilst Robson went onto become a club legend, Remi sadly become a ‘what if’ player as injury cruelly fored the popular midfield to retire at the age of 27. Heartbreakingly in 1985 Remi was called up by England manager Bobby Robson but missed what would have been his debut against Northern Ireland due to injury.
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