‘I was six months too late’: How Sam Allardyce being sacked as England manager in 2016 ended a player's dream of national team selection

Sam Allardyce England manager
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sam Allardyce had only been the manager of England for 67 days when he was sacked in September 2016, following allegations of malpractice after being caught detailing how to get around FIFA and FA bans on third-party ownership of football players.

He took charge of just one game during his tenure, a 1-0 win against Slovakia in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, but his departure signalled the end of any hopes multiple players had in getting selected for the national team.

One of those players was Glenn Murray, who enjoyed a fruitful two seasons in the Premier League with Brighton during the 2017/18 and 2018/19 campaigns. Scoring 25 goals across those terms highlights Murray's form during that period, but, at 34, he believes his age deterred Allardyce's successor Gareth Southgate from selecting him.

When asked by FourFourTwo whether he was close to earning a call up, Murray offers a considered answer.

"No, I think I was six months too late," Murray said. "If Sam Allardyce had still been the manager, I might have had a chance, but Gareth Southgate got the job and went down a completely different route: he went young. 

"Unfortunately for me, it was just bad timing when I did start scoring goals in the Premier League. But to be linked with the national team was amazing. Don’t get me wrong: I was 34 at the time, so I can understand his decision."

Indeed, Southgate instead opted to hand debuts to players such as Tammy Abraham, Dominic Solanke and Callum Wilson during that period instead, believing the age profiles of those three players better matched with what he was attempting to build with England. 

Murray's attitude has clearly changed as he entered the twilight of his career, though, pointing to a penalty miss in 2017 leading to him confronting a fan in the pub afterwards. 

"As a youngster playing in League Two, I felt the pressure of wanting to score goals and be successful, and if I missed a couple of opportunities I’d beat myself up quite badly," Murray told FFT. "I spoke to someone who said, 'Right, I want you to flip everything. If you score, keep doing what you’ve planned, but if you’ve had a bad game, deliberately plan something else: get out of the house.'

"It made a huge difference to me. In 2017 I missed a penalty playing for Brighton. I walked into a bar afterwards and this fella’s gone, 'F**king hell, how have you got the cheek to show your face?' Obviously I was at an age then where I wasn’t going to swallow it, so I replied, 'What do you expect? Do you think I tried to miss it?!' After a while, he bought me a drink."

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.