12 great footballers who won absolutely nothing in their careers

Jermain Defoe
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Len Shackleton

Nicknamed the ‘Clown Prince of Soccer’, Shackleton was a showboating forward who enjoyed a long career for Newcastle and Sunderland between the wars. He scored six on his Magpies debut, and came close to winning the First Division in 1949/50 when Sunderland finished a point off the top.

Stan Collymore

Collymore was difficult to play against in his prime, but his was a career which never really fulfilled its potential. He was a solid performer for both Nottingham Forest and Liverpool, but only won three caps for his country amid off-field personal problems and controversies. The closest he came was the infamous 1996 ‘white suits’ FA Cup final, which Liverpool lost to Manchester United, and he was also a member of the Leicester squad that won the League Cup in 2000 – but was cup-tied.

Johnny Haynes

Pele once called inside-forward Haynes the "best passer of the ball I’ve ever seen", although the Brazilian does have a habit of handing out platitudes like little blue pills to whoever happens to be in front of him.

During 18 years at Fulham, Haynes notched up 158 goals in 658 games, and became England’s first £100 a week player, as well as a key member and captain of the international side. After retiring as a professional, he went to South Africa where he helped Durban City win the controversial, whites-only National Football League – a medal that probably tarnishes his legacy rather than enhances it.

Leighton Baines

There was a time when Baines was the most coveted left-back in English football, known for his crossing and deadly accuracy from set-pieces. Manchester United reportedly came calling but Baines opted to stay at Everton, effectively sealing his place on this list. In 2009 he was on the losing side in an FA Cup final, and has also collected runners-up medals in the League Cup and Championship with Wigan. 

Joe Baker

Born in Scotland to parents from Liverpool, Baker became the first player to play for England without having done so in the English league system – an honour he earned for his goalscoring exploits with Hibernian. Torino soon came calling, and he joined Denis Law in Italy, but returned to the British Isles with Arsenal after a string of controversies abroad – including a serious car crash, a hunger strike and punching a photographer into a canal.

He was close to making the England squad for the 1966 World Cup, and finished second in the First Division with Nottingham Forest the following season.

Clive Allen

Clive Allen Tottenham

During the 1980s and 1990s, Allen was prolific with QPR, Spurs, West Ham – pretty much every club in London, basically.

He came agonisingly close to winning the FA Cup on two occasions. In 1982, he helped the R’s reach the final, which they lost to Spurs after a replay.

Five years later, Allen scored 49 goals as a Tottenham player. But Spurs finished third in the league, lost to rivals Arsenal in the semi-finals of the League Cup, and were beaten by Coventry in extra-time of the FA Cup final after Allen had given them the lead. So close.

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