First published 10/09/2015
Wayne Rooney has now scored more goals for England than any one else. His 50 international goals eclipse the efforts of greats such as: Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker, Michael Owen and Jimmy Greaves. But which players have managed to score a goal for England despite less than impressive careers? No players who could still get an England cap are on the list e.g Steven Caulker.
There was a time when Arsene Wenger would actually go out and spend money on a striker. In 2001, Arsenal bought Francis Jeffers for eight million pounds and it seemed like it could be a bargain. He had a glittering youth career, he is still England Under-21s joint leading goalscorer, and he was already in Everton’s first team at just 20-years-old. Unfortunately injuries and a lack-of-form meant he would end up costing Arsenal one million for every goal he scored. His career never recovered and for a brief spell he played in the Maltese Premier Division when still only 31.
However, he still is the proud owner of a one-goal one-cap record. Both he and record-holder Rooney made their England debuts in a dreadful team performance against Australia. The Socceroos had a 2-0 half-time lead thanks to Tony Popovic and Harry Kewell. The then manager Sven-Goran Eriksson made a raft of changes including bringing Jeffers on. He scored a header from a Jermaine Jenas cross only to see Brett Emerton make the final score 3-1 to the Aussies. Jeffers never played for England again.
Another one-goal one-cap record holder is goal-thief David Nugent. His career has led him to relegation scraps with Portsmouth, Burnley and Leicester City – at all he struggled to score Premier League goals. But his England cap came before he had even played in the top division.
Steve McClaren called Nugent up in 2007 and in bringing him on against Andorra he became the first Preston North End player to play for England since Tom Finney. What followed was ruthless. England were heading to another dull victory against minnows Andorra. With the score at 2-0 Jermain Defoe broke free in injury time. His shot was partially blocked by the goalkeeper and it slowly but surely rolled towards the empty net. Nugent, like a bull that had seen red, charged at the ball and slammed it into the goal from one yard out. Both players celebrated but the debutant was awarded the goal.
Not only does he have an England goal to his name but he also somehow has 18 caps. Palmer is a true symbol of the awful players Graham Taylor had to pick in the early-90s. He played for six Premier League teams in his career but that was far more due to his physique than his technique. His manager at Southampton, David Jones, famously said of him:”He covers every blade of grass out there, but that’s only because his first touch is so crap”.
In February 1993 England were playing against San Marino at home – later that year David Gualtieri would famously score for the tiny nation in the reverse fixture. England were already 3-0 up and cruising when Les Ferdinand glided into the box. He whipped a low ball across towards Palmer put a diving header in the back of the net. Understandably Taylor was furious. “What was he doing in the f***ing box. Didn’t we tell him to hold the middle of the pitch.” Even when doing right he was still doing wrong.
In 2005 Kieran Richardson was a world-beater. He had performed exceptionally in West Brom’s miracle escape from Premier League relegation and thoroughly deserved his England call-up that summer. Unfortunately, his career couldn’t quite match up to the early promise. A couple of season’s as Manchester United’s back-up left-back followed before frequently flirting with Premier League relegation with Sunderland, Fulham and now Aston Villa.
But in 2005 he could do no wrong. Sven-Goran Eriksson selected him for a inexperienced squad that went to the USA for a post-season friendly. The Americans couldn’t handle England’s secret weapon. Two goals on his debut, including a direct free-kick, led England to a 2-1 victory. However, at just 20, this would be his peak. He has had seven further caps but never matched his youthful form.
The surprising fact about Matthew Upson having two England goals to his name is that England managers saw it fit to pick him. He has 21 England caps overall. Unbelievable. Admittedly, he performed well at times for West Ham and Birmingham but I can never forgive him, or indeed Fabio Capello, for the 2010 World Cup defeat to Germany.
England played Germany in the last-16 with nations hope at its absolute lowest. Capello’s side had narrowly scraped through a group with USA, Slovenia and Algeria in – scoring just twice in the process. Germany outclassed England throughout the match with Klose and Podolski making the English defenders look like mugs to put their team 2-0 up after 32 minutes. Four years before David Luiz’s performance in Brazil’s 7-1 defeat to Germany, Upson was providing the inspiration. He was absolutely awful. Then on the 37th minute he had the absolute cheek to go and score to make it 2-1. Was it redemption? Of course not. Thomas Muller scored two second half goals to complete the rout . Upson wouldn’t play for England again.