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 seasons on end as leading figures on the scene. All sorts of factors can intervene to mean they fade from view.
As England prepare for their first games after the World Cup, we’ve picked out 18 players who have completely dropped off the international radar despite still being active…
1. Gabriel Agbonlahor (last cap: Belarus, October 2009)
A blisteringly quick striker who scored 11 goals for Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa in 2008/09, Agbonlahor was handed his international bow by Fabio Capello in a friendly against Germany in November 2008. He turned out two more times for his country but failed to find the net, with his maiden competitive outing against Belarus in October 2009 proving to be his final cap.
Agbonlahor’s form steadily declined as the years went on, and he couldn’t prevent Villa dropping down to the Championship in 2015/16. His professionalism was called into question as he slipped down the centre-forward pecking order, and he’s currently without a club after being released by the Villans at the end of the 2017/18 campaign.
2. Matt Jarvis (Last cap: Ghana, March 2011)
Jarvis saw his fine form with Wolves rewarded in March 2011, when he featured as a substitute in England’s draw with Ghana at Wembley. Danny Welbeck also made his debut that night, but while the Arsenal striker has gone on to provide lengthy service for his country, Jarvis has fallen by the wayside in international terms.
The winger earned a move to West Ham in 2012 and featured regularly for the Hammers in the top flight over the next two seasons, yet another international outing proved elusive. Now at Championship side Norwich, Jarvis has been plagued by injuries in the last couple of years but now looks to be on the comeback trail.
3. Darren Bent (last cap: Spain, November 2011)
A reliable goal-getter who scored regularly for several mid-table Premier League clubs, Bent’s decline was unexpected. He’s arguably been on a downward slope since his second full season at Aston Villa in 2011/12, with the 13-time England international having now plied his trade outside the top flight for over four years.
Eighty-one goals in 186 Premier League appearances across spells with Charlton, Tottenham and Sunderland represented a fine return, but Bent was never called upon by his country after an outing against Spain in November 2011. Aged 34 and without a club, it’s safe to say his international career is over.
4. Micah Richards (last cap: Netherlands, February 2012)
A powerful 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.
But it wasn’t to be. 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.
5. Fraizer Campbell (last cap: Netherlands, February 2012)
When Fabio Capello resigned a few months before Euro 2012 after disputing the FA’s decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy, Stuart Pearce was drafted in as caretaker to oversee the Three Lions’ friendly against the Netherlands.
The England Under-21 boss used the opportunity to promote some of his young charges to the senior squad, with Sunderland striker Campbell among them – despite the fact he’d scored just six league goals in the previous four seasons. The ex-Manchester United man came off the bench in a 3-2 loss but hasn’t played for England since.
6. Martin Kelly (last cap: Norway, May 2012)
Kelly holds an unwanted record for the all-time shortest international career of any England player. The then-Liverpool defender was a surprise inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad, but he didn’t step on the pitch at all in Poland and Ukraine that summer.
He did, however, receive two minutes of action in a pre-tournament friendly against Norway, replacing Phil Jones in the closing stages of a 1-0 win. He soon fell out of favour at Anfield and moved to Crystal Palace in 2014, but the fact he’s not a regular starter at Selhurst Park suggests he won’t be returning to the England fold any time soon.
7. John Ruddy (Last cap: Italy, August 2012)
The Norwich stalwart got his 45 minutes of fame in a 2-1 friendly win over Italy which saw England get some revenge for their Euro 2012 exit at the hands of the Azzurri. Ruddy was one of five debutants that day, along with fellow keeper Jack Butland, who started the match, Tom Cleverley, Ryan Bertrand and Jake Livermore.
Injury ruled Ruddy out for the second half of that season, but he returned to play every minute of Norwich’s relegation campaign the following year in the Premier League. International call-ups continued to come for the keeper – he sat on the bench 12 times for England in 2012 and 2013 – but he’s yet to take to the pitch again for his country.
8. Carl Jenkinson (last cap: Sweden, November 2012)
England’s friendly against Sweden in November 2012, chiefly remembered for Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s remarkable four-goal haul, featured five debuts for the visitors. Jenkinson’s came as a 75th-minute substitute, and that brief cameo remains his only taste of international football so far.
The 20-year-old right-back had been playing regularly for Arsenal at the time of his call-up, but he struggled to nail down a starting spot over the long-term and was later sent out on loan to West Ham (twice) and Birmingham. Jenkinson is still only 26, but it would take a massive turnaround for him to earn another England cap.
9. Steven Caulker (last cap: Sweden, November 2012)
Caulker was handed a starting berth as part of an experimental England team which took on Sweden in a friendly in 2012. The Tottenham centre-back had impressed on loan at Swansea the previous season, and his international career got off to a brilliant start as he volleyed home a Steven Gerrard free-kick to give Roy Hodgson’s men a 2-1 lead in the first half.
Caulker’s career seemed to unravel after a move to QPR in 2014, and the reasons for that became apparent in a brave interview with the Guardian in which he admitted to problems with alcohol, gambling and depression. The 26-year-old rebuilt his career at Dundee last season but triggered a release clause in his contract at the end of August 2018 and is expected to sign for a new club soon.
10. Tom Huddlestone (Last cap: Sweden, November 2012)
Huddlestone made his Three Lions bow in November 2009, coming off the bench in a friendly defeat by Brazil before picking up a further two caps the following May against Mexico and Japan. The former England Under-21 international was a regular for Tottenham at the time, but he had to wait another two and half years before collecting his fourth and most recent cap in a friendly loss to Sweden.
All four of the midfielder’s appearances in an England shirt came during his eight-year spell with Spurs, which ended when he joined Hull in August 2013. Huddlestone spent four years with the Tigers before agreeing a return to boyhood club Derby last summer.
11. Aaron Lennon (Last cap: Jamaica, February 2013)
Lennon became the youngest player in Premier League history when he played for Leeds at the age of 16 years and 129 days in 2003, but he had to wait three more years for his England debut. The winger represented his country seven times in 2006, including twice at the World Cup in Germany that summer.
The then-Tottenham man also made two appearances at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, starting the group games against the United States and Algeria. He gradually fell out of favour, though, with his last appearance for the Three Lions coming five and a half years ago.
12. Jack Rodwell (last cap: Brazil, June 2013)
Several promising footballers have risked a transfer to Manchester City in recent years, only to struggle for regular minutes in such a competitive dressing room. Rodwell is perhaps the poster boy of such a group, playing just 16 league games in two years after joining the club from Everton in 2012.
The midfielder was still with the Toffees when he made his England debut in a friendly victory over Spain in 2011. He played twice more for his country but had fallen out of the international picture by the time he joined Sunderland in 2014. Rodwell played infrequently as the Black Cats fell from top tier to third, becoming a pariah figure among fans for his high wages and minimal contribution.
13. Jay Rodriguez (Last cap: Chile, November 2013)
Another one-cap wonder, Rodriguez’s moment in the famous white shirt came during a 2-0 friendly defeat to Chile in 2013. Debuting alongside Southampton team-mate Adam Lallana and future Saints man Fraser Forster, the forward turned in a quiet performance before being substituted on the hour mark.
A combination of form and fortune have since conspired against the forward to keep him out of the national team. One season on from his international bow he scored 15 Premier League goals for Saints, but he failed to gain a recall and subsequently suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Rodriguez performed well for West Brom last term, but their relegation further damaged his international prospects.
14. Tom Cleverley (last cap: Germany, November 2013)
Cleverley isn’t the first footballer to benefit from his association with Manchester United at international level, but he’s perhaps the best recent example of the advantages that come with playing for one of the world’s biggest clubs. The midfielder won 13 caps while at Old Trafford and his last call-up came in July 2015, the same month he departed for Everton.
He’s since moved on to Watford, where the 29-year-old has been overshadowed by younger and more technically impressive compatriots in Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah. Cleverley is highly unlikely to feature in Gareth Southgate’s plans.
15. Jon Flanagan (last cap: Ecuador, June 2014)
The full-back’s breakthrough at Liverpool came during the thrilling 2013/14 season, when it briefly looked as though the club’s long title drought was finally going to end. An injury to Jose Enrique opened up a space on the left side of defence, and Flanagan seized his opportunity impressively to become a regular during the run-in.
International recognition followed with an England debut as a substitute in June 2014, and he was even named on standby for a place in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad. Injuries and indiscipline have been a major feature of his subsequent fall from grace, which reached its nadir with a conviction for assaulting his girlfriend.
16. Stewart Downing (Last cap: Scotland, November 2014)
Downing was no one-cap wonder or fleeting consideration by a tinkering England boss. The former Aston Villa and Liverpool winger has racked up 35 appearances for his country – the same number as Jack Charlton and more than Michael Carrick and Ian Wright.
Having made his international debut at 18 in 2005, the majority of Downing’s appearances came in two spells: from 2006-2009, and then more regularly in 2011 and 2012. In November 2014, after more than two and a half years out of the England setup, the winger started in a friendly win over Scotland in what remains his last cap to date. Now 34 and playing for Middlesbrough in the Championship, it’s fair to say Downing’s England days are behind him.
17. Leighton Baines (Last cap: Egypt, March 2015)
A model of consistency for Everton since his move from Wigan in 2007, Baines has racked up 30 England caps in the last eight years - but none since 2015. His first call-up came in 2009 following Wayne Bridge's retirement from international football, but he didn't make his maiden appearance until March of the following year.
The left-back was left out of Fabio Capello's squad for the World Cup in South Africa, with the Italian manager preferring Aston Villa's Stephen Warnock. He did make the cut for Euro 2012, but was a reserve throughout as Ashley Cole played every minute of every game. Now 33, Baines will do well to earn another England cap as Gareth Southgate builds for the future.
18. Kieran Gibbs (Last cap: Hungary, November 2015)
Gibbs was a back-up for the majority of his Arsenal career, averaging just 15 Premier League appearances per season between 2008 and 2017. As such the left-back was never likely to become a regular for his country, but he still managed to earn 10 senior caps under Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson.
Gibbs, who played 15 times for England’s Under-21s, made his full debut in a friendly against Hungary in 2010, replacing former Arsenal defender Ashley Cole at half-time. He featured in nine more games over the next five years, but hasn’t played since 2015 and slipped further down the pecking order following a move to West Brom two years later.
England, Lists, Premier League, Championship, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Darren Bent, Manchester City, Micah Richards, Manchester United, Hull City, Martin Kelly, Carl Jenkinson, Steven Caulker, Everton, Jack Rodwell, Tom Cleverley, Jon Flanagan, Watford, Matt Jarvis, Jay Rodriguez, John Ruddy, Norwich City, Southampton, Tom Huddlestone, Tottenham Hotspur, Stewart Downing, Kieran Gibbs, Leighton Baines, Aaron Lennon