Where'd you go?
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, season upon season, as leading figures on the scene. All sorts of factors can intervene to mean they fade from view.
As England look to book their spot at Euro 2020, we’ve picked out 20 players who have completely dropped off the international radar despite still being active…
Gabriel Agbonlahor (last cap: Belarus, October 2009)
A once-rapid 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 twice more for his country but failed to net, and his maiden competitive outing against Belarus in October 2009 proved 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 pecking order, and he retired in March 2019 at the age of 32.
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 went 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. Released by Norwich at the end of last term, Jarvis has been plagued by injuries in the last couple of years and is currently a free agent.
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 that 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, and is now plying his trade in the Championship with Huddersfield.
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, to be joined by Hodgson at Selhurst Park three years later.
John Ruddy (Last cap: Italy, August 2012)
The Norwich stalwart got his 45 minutes of fame in a 2-1 friendly win over Italy, where England earned a semblance of revenge for their Euro 2012 exit to 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 the current Wolves custodian is yet to take to the pitch again for his country.
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. After eight years at the Emirates Stadium, Jenkinson joined Nottingham Forest permanently this summer.
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 where he admitted to problems with alcohol, gambling and depression. The defender moved to Turkey with Alanyaspor earlier this year.
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 in 2017.
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. The now-Burnley man gradually fell out of favour, though, with his last appearance for the Three Lions coming in 2013.
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. He's been without a club since leaving Blackburn in the summer.
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.
One season on from his international bow he scored 15 Premier League goals for Saints, but failed to gain a recall and subsequently suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Rodriguez returned to the Premier League with hometown club Burnley this summer and has an outside chance of forcing his way back into the international reckoning.
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 then moved on to Watford in 2017, but the Hornets' miserable start to the season and Cleverley's age - he turned 30 in August - means he's unlikely to be seen in a Three Lions shirt again.
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, although he's rebuilt his reputation to an extent at Rangers.
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 2006-09, 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 35 and playing for Blackburn in the Championship, it’s fair to say his England days are behind him.
Leighton Baines (Last cap: Egypt, March 2015)
Everton left-back Baines has racked up 30 England caps in the last nine 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 34 and a back-up to Lucas Digne at Goodison Park, Baines will do well to earn another England cap as Gareth Southgate builds for the future.
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.
Jack Wilshere (last cap: Iceland, June 2016)
Wilshere was included in Roy Hodgon's Euro 2016 squad despite having made only three appearances in all competitions for Arsenal the preceding season. England didn't fare well in France, though, crashing out in embarrassing circumstances with a 2-1 loss to Iceland in the last 16.
Wilshere hasn't been seen in an England shirt since, and he's since left Arsenal on a permanent basis too. Currently injury free at West Ham, the midfielder will hope that a positive season in east London could revive his international career.
Andros Townsend (last cap: Spain, November 2016)
After representing England at under-16, under-17, under-19 and under-21 level, Townsend graduated to the senior side in 2013. The then-Tottenham winger made his debut against Montenegro and went on to win 12 more caps for his country, the most recent of which came in a 2-2 draw with Spain almost three years ago.
Townsend was a Crystal Palace player by the time of his latest appearance for the Three Lions, and he remains so in 2019. The 28-year-old is currently out of Roy Hodgson's starting XI at Selhurst Park, so an international recall is unlikely.
Theo Walcott (last cap: Spain, November 2016)
Walcott was a shock inclusion in England's 2006 World Cup squad, despite having failed to make a single Premier League appearance for Arsenal. He didn't play at all in Germany but went on to win a total of 47 caps, a figure he'll still be hoping to add to in the coming years.
Those chances appear slim at present, however, with Walcott out of favour at Everton and without an appearance for his country in almost three years. Now 30 years of age, England's former boy wonder has probably played his last game for the Three Lions.
Joe Hart (last cap: Brazil, November 2017)
Only one goalkeeper - the legendary Peter Shilton - has won more caps for England than Hart, who's been stuck on 75 for almost two years. He's been his country's first-choice netminder in two European Championships and one World Cup, but the 32-year-old's career has taken a major dip since he was loaned out by Manchester City in 2016.
After season-long spells at Torino and West Ham, Hart is now at Burnley - but he's only Sean Dyche's No.2, behind compatriot Nick Pope. Until he's playing regular first-team football again, there's little chance of the goalkeeper returning to Gareth Southgate's squad.