The 10 Most Overlooked England Players of All-Time - Ranked

Max Cooper
Steve McManaman and Paul Gascoigne in their England days
Steve McManaman and Paul Gascoigne in their England days / Ben Radford/Getty Images

As England supporters nervously pace the room in anticipation of the Three Lions' team sheet, an all-too familiar sinking feeling begins to weigh heavy in the pit of their stomach.

The one man they are dying to watch, the entertainer, the maverick, is not going to be picked. You can smell it in the air. But how is it possible?! Is the manager the only person in the world who cannot see how good this kid is? Is he blind, or just plain stupid?!

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So yeah, we've all been there, eh. It's now Jack Grealish's turn to be the media's chosen stick, used to beat Gareth Southgate every time he leaves the Aston Villa star out of the starting lineup. Perhaps there is more to it than meets the eye.

But to us normals, it's as clear as day. There is an AGENDA! Which other England players have suffered at the hands of bitter, cowardly coaches and never enjoyed the international career their brilliance truly deserved, then? Here's 10 of them, ranked.

10. Ian Callaghan - 4 Caps

Liverpool's most capped player in history, winner of five top-flight titles and several European trophies, Ian Callaghan boasts a pitiful and confusing four England caps.

How is that possible? Frankly, we don't really know. He burst onto the international scene just as England were in their World Cup-winning pomp, and perhaps he suffered at the hands of some favouritism and over-trust in the old guard. A scandal, whatever the reason.

9. Les Ferdinand - 17 Caps

Ferdinand probably scoring a goal
Ferdinand probably scoring a goal / Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Les Ferdinand was one of the deadliest forwards in the English top flight for five years, scoring 60 goals over three seasons for Queens Park Rangers, and then a further 41 in two years at Newcastle United.

Sadly, he was never really handed the opportunity to replicate that form for England, making a measly 17 appearances over a five-year spell. Shocking.

8. Paul Gascoigne - 57 Caps

Bat in hand
Bat in hand / Getty Images/Getty Images

Look up the definition of the word 'maverick' and next to it you'll find a picture of Paul Gascoigne, probably gurning manically or pulling a moonie to the camera.

The attacking midfielder was so good, that even though his breed was largely ostracised by coaches at that time, he still managed to amass 57 caps. The face of Italia '90 for so many enchanted viewers.

Completely misunderstood, and should have got plenty more chances in the white shirt.

7. Steve Bruce - 0 Caps

"I'm gonna get how many caps?!"
"I'm gonna get how many caps?!" / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

NOT A SINGLE ENGLAND CAP. A stoic, no-nonsense centre-back who made over 400 appearances for Manchester United, Steve Bruce was a force to be reckoned with. He was an ultimate professional, but somehow, he was completely ignored when it came to the international scene.

While the Three Lions were blessed with some excellent defenders in the 80s and 90s, the fact Brucey never got to pull on the jersey even once is a crying shame. The best English defender to never play for England?

6. Owen Hargreaves - 42 Caps

Tears of a nation
Tears of a nation / Clive Mason/Getty Images

Very much seen as an outsider by some England supporters, there was more suspicion and uncertainty than excitement when Owen Hargreaves was chosen to represent his nation.

The Canadian-born midfielder, who played for German giants Bayern, was often seen as inferior to the other options in the squad, and was one of those players that fans just didn't 'get'.

His performances at the 2006 World Cup changed that mentality entirely however, and he would go on to become a Champions League and Premier League winner with Man Utd. Not bad.

5. Steve McManaman - 37 Caps

If anybody can - Macca can
If anybody can - Macca can / PATRICK HERTZOG/Getty Images

A brilliant, brilliant player. Steve McManaman dazzled at Liverpool, and his confidence to run at players and try the unthinkable landed him a dream move to Real Madrid. He won the Champions League twice with Los Blancos, scoring a great volley in the 2000 final, and proving doubters wrong throughout his career.

Unfortunately, he wasn't able to win over the England coaches, playing only 17 minutes at the 1998 World Cup under Glenn Hoddle, despite being near the peak of his powers.

A cruel blow for someone who could change the game in the blink of an eye.

4. Robbie Fowler - 26 Caps

Fowler blew the Premier League away on his arrival
Fowler blew the Premier League away on his arrival / Ben Radford/Getty Images

Robbie Fowler burst onto the scene as a precocious, deadly teenager and from 1993-97, hammered home an unbelievable 83 goals for Liverpool. The starlet seemed destined for greatness, and was tipped to break all sorts of records for England.

That never happened, though. The Three Lions were unbelievably stacked with attacking alternatives at that time, with Alan Shearer and Michael Owen leading the line. In any other era, Fowler would have been the first name on the team sheet - but that's football for ya.

3. Matt Le Tissier - 8 Caps

He'll tell you there's a government cover-up behind his England exclusion
He'll tell you there's a government cover-up behind his England exclusion / Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

Scorer of great goals, and a great goalscorer, too. Matt Le Tissier had the lot, and his only crime was remaining faithful to boyhood club Southampton all his career.

His desire to repay the loyalty shown in him by the Saints meant that he was regularly overlooked by England coaches, despite blowing the Premier League away with his sublime skill and eye for the spectacular.

He blames Hoddle for sparking a downward spiral in his career after not being selected for World Cup '98, despite being a fan favourite. He's not the only one, by the sounds of things.

2. Andy Cole - 15 Caps

I...I'm not sure
I...I'm not sure / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

55 goals in 70 league appearances for Newcastle United. 93 goals in 193 appearances for Man Utd. AND YET - Andy Cole managed to pull on the England jersey 15 times, finding the net only once.

Remembered by many as clinical, and wasteful by others, Cole divided opinion. But it cannot be denied that, for a man with his record and goalscoring prowess, he absolutely had to play more for the Three Lions.

1. Michael Carrick - 34 Caps

A class act
A class act / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The ultimate 'if he was Spanish, he'd have 150 international caps', kind of player. Loved by every domestic club he played for, Michael Carrick was an incredibly talented central midfielder.

His ability to dictate the pace of the game and provide a base for others to build on was unrivalled in England, but this understated style was no match for the blood and thunder of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

34 caps, but never used correctly - a wasted talent on the international stage.