The best Arsenal XI never to played for England at a major tournament

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.

Dixon (RB)
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.

Bould (CB)
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.

Winterburn (LB)
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.

Parlour (CM)
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.

Edu (CM)
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.


  1. Great article. I only know newer players such as Parlour and Edu and I’m too young to see the others played

    Parlour’s hardwork in the field is not as flashy as Henry’s goals or Bergkamp’s assists, but he was one of the factors that made Arsenal’s midfield dominated EPL and he is not appreciated enough by the pundits at that time

  2. A distinct “curates egg”of an article ; good in parts, only. The rather pointless inclusion of such as Richard Wright, Pennant, Bentley and Edu lets this article down. But overall it has a lot going for it all the same.

    1. Jon, they missed out on the best uncapped player in the English game, George “Geordie” Armstrong.

  3. My favourites out of them are Ian Wright, Winterburn, Parlour, Edu, Dixon.

    Don’t know much about the others.

    1. Forever Gooner, you must have missed the one and only David Rocastle, brilliantly summed up in this post by the author.

      I was always amazed that GG’s incredible back five was never used as the backbone of England, probably because they played for The Arsenal!!

      As Jon says, a “cuurates egg” when including David Bentley…what a waste of god given talent he was.

      Never realised that Edu could have played for England…proves the point that you learn something new every day.

      Two other names to ponder from the past…Peter Simpson and Peter Storey….the former especially was one of the most underrated players ever in my opinion.

      1. And how about George Armstrong too Ken; incredible how he never got a full England cap. A travesty IMO. Could not agree more about Peter Simpson . His tragedy was to play in the era of Bobby Moore and also Norman Hunter(who ALSO had reason to “curse” Moores existence)

        1. i had just taken my dog for its evening constitutional and was thinking about the posts.
          Suddenly remembered the great Georgie Armstrong, hurried back to mention him and you beat me to it Jon!!! Well done.

          I still rate him above Overmars, Rix and any other winger, left or right, that wore our shirt.
          A real Arsenal man, in the mould of Tony Adams himself.
          I can still see himflying down the wing,tackling back and giving 100% to our club….what a player and gentleman.
          Lucky enough to have his autograph.

            1. I still remember the goal he got before 60,000 plus crowd in an FA Cup replay against West Brom in the mid sixties when he went past Don Howe (playing for West Brom) and hit 25 yard pile driver from the left side of the penalty area into the top far corner of the net. What a screamer!

          1. Ken, Way back when, I very slightly only, knew wee Geordie and was in awe of him . His enormous workrate , which I have always adored in like minded players WAS a definite factor in my long campaign to rid us of Walcott and in my dislike of what I see as laziness in Ozil, THOUGH NOT of Ozil the man.

          1. Thanks for that Kenny, never realised that happened.
            Did England win?
            Any idea why it wasn’t continued?

  4. Ken, I might be wrong but I’m sure Hoddle played our back four after he took over the England team in 1996. I think it was against France when the French beat us 2-0 at Wembley with both goals coming from Anelka. Howard Wilkinson played Seamen, Dixon, Adams and Keown but with that game also being against France I may be getting them mixed up. I’ve been searching the internet for confirmation so watch this space. Maybe one of our more knowledgeable contributors, I was thinking of someone like Phil, Jon Fox, Gotanidea or even TH14 could help us out.

    1. i can’t be definitively accurate KENNY, but somewhere in the back of my mind , I SEEM TO THINK YOU ARE RIGHT.

  5. Ken, in fact that game when Anelka got the two goals was 1999 and Wilkinson had just taken over from Hoddle. There was talk that Wilkinson should have played Winterburn at left back and completed the Arsenal defence but he chose Graeme Le Saux.

    1. That one completely passed me by Kenny.
      I would have bet my life’s savings it never happened, so my £100 is still safe, at least until my bet with Jon is decided!!!

      How are you enjoying our current form, playing style and the Emirates atmosphere?
      It all seems to have changed for the better this last few weeks don’t you think?

      1. Ken I have to say i see our bet as more 50/50 right now and I hope you win, as it would mean OZIL WAS FINALLY DOING THE BIZ MORE REGULARLY. If i lose the bet I will of course starve but honour is honour and I could do with losing a few pounds. In weight! Maybe seven or ten though, not a hundred!

        1. You know what Jon, why don’t we follow Phil’s lead and both donate £100 anyway?
          It’s a marvellous charity and if Ozil carries on the way UE wants him to, we would both be happy.
          What do you think?

          1. What a top solution . Agreed with glee and some relief too. I now wish I had never made the bet(not for money reasons either) but you have found the perfect solution Ken.

            1. Excellent Jon, shall we catch Phil on his next post and see what he recommends we do regarding collating the three hundred pounds?

              Understand your thoughts and as you say, if Ozil stays it will mean he’s playing well enough for UE to keep him…a win win situation.

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