As promised here is eleven Gunners who never played for England at a major tournament… by Dan Smith
Richard Wright (GK)
Was deemed his nation’s next number one in 2001, having made a reputation at Ipswich. A move to Highbury seemed logical, he could work daily in training with the man he was tipped to replace long term. Contributed towards our Double Winning campaign but clearly lost patience, realising David Seaman was not yet thinking of retirement. It’s believed he viewed being dropped for the FA Cup final (having played earlier rounds) as promises being broken.
England managers should have done more to take advantage of our famous back four, so reliable they got known as ‘Boring boring Arsenal’ due to their ability to grind out 1-0 wins. It didn’t help that at their peak, England didn’t make the 94 World Cup. While Arsene Wenger would introduce diet and training regimes to prolong the right back’s career at that point, youngsters like Gary Neville had broken through who would make that position his own.
Strange one. For over a decade part of one of this country’s most famous centre back partnerships. So how does one end up captaining his nation, while the other only gets two caps? By the way those caps didn’t come until he was the age of 31.
Andy Linighan (CB)
Easily could have been spoken about as a member of our famous back 4. That was the intention when signing him, as he filled in for Tony Adams and Bould, slowly building a reputation. His turning point was the re-signing of Keown which then made him 4th choice. When we brought him from Norwich was predicted as a future international.
Only two caps, which came 4 years either side of each other. He was competing with the likes of Stuart Pearce, but it must have been frustrating to see other members of Arsenal’s squad rewarded for their efforts. England managers seemed to have missed a trick. You could have played a back 5 (including GK) who had a natural understanding. It Would have saved them precious time, giving you only have a week every few months to build relationships.
David Rocastle (CM)
A cult hero among Gooners, with the likes of Ian Wright later crediting him for teaching new players, the values of ‘the Arsenal’. In many ways ahead of his time in terms of how he played. He would dribble the ball in an era where fans were less used to seeing technique over power. Fittingly, never lost the 14 times he pulled on the Three Lions jersey.
The Nickname, ‘Romford Pele’ was partly ironic, partly Gooners defending a player they felt was being undervalued. Especially the way he played in our 98 Double campaign it was felt he was being overlooked. Perhaps he’s one of those who didn’t do the exciting things so therefore doesn’t get recognition. We know from experience though, every squad needs a Parlour, strong mentality, someone you can’t bully, etc.
Wanted to add him as some Gooners might not know how much he considered playing for England when getting a British passport in 2004. Brazil was a hard midfield to break into and it’s believed he was only called up to stop him from switching allegiances. A shame as he would have technical ability not associated with English players.
Jermaine Pennant (RM)
In his recent book, Pennant debated if he had, in fact, over achieved in his career, given his childhood? There were periods he seemed to have turned the corner, a hat trick on his first League start, his form at Birmingham, MOTM in a Champions League Final, etc . He felt his form was ignored as it wouldn’t fit the FA’s image by featuring a man who had been in prison. That he writes this shows a lack of reflection. The reality is someone with his talent should have done so much more but his biggest obstacle was himself.
David Bentley (LM)
When Spurs were paying 20 million for the midfielder it seemed Arsenal should have put up more of a fight to keep him. Not just was he predicted to be a regular for England, he was compared to David Beckham due to his ability with a dead ball. Arsene Wenger though has a reputation for giving youth a chance, so there is a reason he put up little resistance in letting him go. Stuart Pearce also questioned his dedication when he refused to play for the under 21 team. Based purely on talent was good enough to play at a major tournament for England but classic example of if you don’t have the right mentality, quality will only get you so far. Retired at the age of 29 claiming to have fallen out of love with the game.
Ian Wright (Striker)
Anyone who’s watched him as a pundit, will know how passionate the striker his about his country. He never forgave Graham Taylor for his treatment in the England team. Six consecutive seasons after joining us, he at least scored a minimum of 23 goals yet it was overlooked. The irony being he was finally trusted to rescue our doomed bid to qualify for USA 94, when it was too late.