As England kicked off their Euro 2020 campaign, it was noticeable there were zero Arsenal representatives (although we have several in the under-age groups). Unai Emery was also called out the other week for naming an all foreign squad, something Arsene Wenger did a few times.
So which Gunners have played for the Three Lions? This will show your age; the only rule is they have had to have played at a World Cup of European Championship. Another list will follow of talent you might be shocked to learn never got to represent their contrary in a major tournament.
David Seaman (GK) (Euro 96, France 98, Euro 2000, World Cup 2002)
Younger fans might have thought nothing could match Jordan Pickford’s penalty save at the World Cup. It was the first time the 3 Lions won on spot kicks since Euro 96 when football really was ‘coming home.’ David Seaman became a national treasure that day against Spain which was a rarity. It’s common in the UK when someone makes it to the top, to predict their downfall. The media seemed more obsessed with his ponytail and moustache rather than the fact that for a decade he was Arsenal and England’s number one, two shirts that come with allot of pressure.
Ashley Cole (LB) (World Cup 2002, Euro 2004, World Cup 2006, World Cup 2010, Euro 2012)
Given how he went to Chelsea, some Gooners might not admit that Cole was perhaps the most consistent member of our ‘golden generation.’ We knew at Arsenal he was one of the world’s best attacking full backs, but it was against Ronaldo with England that he showed how good he was defensively. In fact, Ronaldo describes his duel with Cole at Euro 2004 and World Cup 06 as his toughest opponent.
Tony Adams (CB) (Euro 88, Euro 96, France 98, Euro 2000)
Captained his country at Euro 96 at a time when our squad was surrounded by leaders. Anyone who has read his autobiographies will know what the defender put himself through to be mentally ready for tournaments. Such was his battle with addiction he would lock himself in his hotel room and not socialise with his teammates out of fear of partying.
Sol Campbell (CB) (Euro 96, France 98, Euro 2000, World Cup 2002, Euro 2004, World Cup 2006)
With Adams in 98-, Rio in 2002, Terry in 2004, Sol formed some great partnerships when our country was spoilt for choice in this position. Sadly, he is best remembered in Three Lion’s shirts for having two crucial goals harshly ruled out, two headers which could have altered our history.
Keown (CB) Euro 2000
Part of Arsenal’s famous back four, something that our national managers didn’t really take advantage of. Terry Venables dropped him, while he went to two World Cups without playing, although his leadership qualities were deemed as helpful to his younger peers. Only Kevin Keegan at Euro 2000 tried to capitalise on Keown’s partnership with Adams which had won so much.
The Ox (RB) Euro 2012, World Cup 2014
For the purpose of this team, the Ox is the closest thing we have to a right back who played for England. Not his favoured position but it remains where he has shown his best form and had a consistent run in a first team. Was deemed a wildcard when selected for Euro 2012 which he justified with his pace, scaring France. Hasn’t got close to his ambition of being a goal scoring midfielder due to injuries.
Wilshere (CM) World Cup 2014, Euro 16
Was predicted to be his country’s next big thing with the likes of Gerrard describing him as a future England captain. Educated by Arsene Wenger, the midfielder had a technique which made him different to his peers. He was someone who could keep the ball, play in small spaces while showing great vision. In the last couple of tournaments he has been centre of debate in terms of; should we take a gamble with his fitness? His injury record means he cannot be relied on and Southgate seems to have accepted his time has passed him by. Injuries forced him out of his boyhood club and have prevented him from making impact at West Ham. Must be mentally as much as physically tough? In danger of becoming a wasted talent.
Merson (CM) Euro 92, France 98
Technically as good as anyone in his position, Merson would have earnt more caps if not for his well-known battles with addiction. The irony was, Graham Taylor gave him a run in the side when he was very much leading the drinking culture the British game was known for. Terry Venables made it clear he was not an option unless he changed his lifestyle. It was in fact when dropping down a division he finally made it to a World Cup, the first Englishmen to do so when not playing in the top flight. Perhaps in a tour that sums up his career, he fondly described his form for England on a trip to America. Off the field the drunk play maker was chased back to his hotel.
Walcott (RM) Euro 2012
Became somewhat of a scapegoat to some England managers. Was strangely called up for the 2006 World Cup, despite being 16 and yet to kick a ball for his employers. Having gone to a major tournament when he had zero experience, he has missed World Cups when scoring double figures in a campaign. At times his pace was ignored for the likes of Lennon and Wright Phillips. Maybe like at Arsenal, he lacked that mean streak to consistently be considered a threat.
Welbeck (LM) Euro 2012, World Cup 2014, World 2018
Louis Van Gal once said Welbeck needs 5 chances to score, an opinion he hasn’t really altered in North London.
Good at linking play, great pace, but you still can’t rely on him in the final third. Yet for England his goal ratio is decent, and Southgate seemed to trust him, always finding ways to get him in his attack. Another gunner though who’s career has been impacted by too many injuries.
Alan Smith (Striker) Euro 92
Only international tournament is remembered for being brought on for Gary Lineker when we needed a goal, ending Lineker’s international career. Graham Taylor was also criticised for trusting Smith over younger strikers, the likes of Ian Wright and Alan Shearer. It makes non Gooners forget Smith was a man who had won the Golden boot twice and who’s body of work includes crucial goals in crucial moments. An old-fashioned forward of the type they don’t make anymore.