10 England internationals of the last decade who have totally fallen off the radar
The fortunes of most footballers, even those considered among the best in their country, tend to wax and wane. Very few are able to perform at a consistently high level for years on end as leading figures on the domestic and international scene. All sorts of factors can intervene to mean they fade from view.
As Gareth Southgate takes charge of his first matches since an invigorating World Cup, let’s spare a thought for some of those who are now a long way from enjoying another call-up. These 10 England internationals from the last decade are still active, but nowhere near consideration...
Gabriel Agbonlahor (last cap: Belarus, October 2009)
A lightning-quick striker with a decent goalscoring record for someone of his age, peak Agbonlahor was given his England debut by Fabio Capello in a friendly against Germany in 2008, aged 22. He went on to make two more international appearances over the next year without finding the net, and received his final call up in November 2011.
He was never selected by Roy Hodgson, though, and his performances for Aston Villa stagnated over several years, then fell off a cliff as relegation loomed in 2015/16. Agbonlahor’s professionalism was questioned as he gained weight, while pictures emerged of him smoking a shisha pipe in Dubai and inhaling laughing gas. He barely played under Steve Bruce and the 31-year-old is currently without a club having been released at the end of last season.
Darren Bent (last cap: Spain, November 2011)
Among the best and most consistent goalscorers over a number of years at mid-ranking Premier League clubs, Bent peaked sooner than expected. He has arguably been on a downward slope since a difficult second full season at Aston Villa under Alex McLeish in 2011/12, where the chances that the then-26-year-old would normally thrive on were in painfully short supply.
England opportunities dried up thereafter, and despite an enviable record at the top level – 81 goals in 186 top-flight appearances across his spells with Charlton, Tottenham and Sunderland – plus four strikes for the Three Lions, he never got to represent his country at a major tournament.
Bent was able to find a semblance of form in the Championship with Derby before being frozen out completely last season, which he ended on loan at relegated Burton Albion. He's currently out of contract and was linked with a return to the Brewers on a pay-as-you-play deal. At 34, he’s over a year younger than Jermain Defoe.
Micah Richards (last cap: Netherlands, February 2012)
A strong and tenacious defender who seemed to emerge fully formed within Manchester City's first team as a 17-year-old, Richards was called into the England squad by Steve McClaren having made just 28 professional appearances. He made his debut against the Netherlands in 2006, becoming his country’s youngest-ever defender, and looked set to be a permanent fixture in the side for years to come.
Richards earned 11 of his 13 caps under McClaren while still a teenager. Fabio Capello and Stuart Pearce, in his single match in caretaker charge, were responsible for his other two appearances. After being overtaken by new signings at Manchester City, he completed a disastrous move to Aston Villa in the summer of 2015. Richards was relegated in his first season with the club, has played just twice in the Championship – and not at all since October 2016.
Fraizer Campbell (last cap: Netherlands, February 2012)
It’s fair to say that Campbell’s England call-up came as something of a surprise even at the time. After Fabio Capello’s unexpected resignation, Stuart Pearce was tasked with filling the void for a friendly against the Netherlands in 2012 as the FA went about appointing a successor. Pearce took the opportunity to promote some of the players he’d previously worked with at under-21 level and Campbell was a notable beneficiary.
The striker, then of Sunderland, had scored just six league goals in the previous four seasons but took his place in the squad alongside Darren Bent, Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck. Campbell came on as a substitute in a 3-2 defeat but hasn’t had a sniff of international football since. He returned to Hull, and the Championship, last summer.
Martin Kelly (last cap: Norway, May 2012)
Not all records are worth boasting about, as Kelly knows only too well. The former Liverpool defender holds the record for the shortest international career of any England player in history, after replacing Phil Jones for the final two minutes of a 1-0 friendly win over Norway. A late addition, Kelly was also called up to the squad for Euro 2012 after Gary Cahill withdrew through injury, but failed to make an appearance at the tournament.
A ruptured anterior cruciate ligament halted Kelly’s progress at Anfield as he missed more than a year of football and was eventually sold to Crystal Palace in August 2014. He remains a fringe player at the club whose versatility enables him to fill in anywhere across the backline, but not as first choice in any single position. Heading into his prime years at 28, there’s little prospect of adding to that single England cap.