Ahead of the upcoming European Championships in France, national sides are starting to put together a list of players who have done enough to warrant a seat on the plane to the tournament. England’s friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands has certainly given Roy Hodgson something to think about and the season finale will no doubt add some spice to his choice of selections. Every year there’s a shock admission; that one player who everyone hoped would be selected who just missed the cut. But once in a blue moon, a manager makes a shocking addition to the squad which comes as a surprise to everyone. Here’s some of the most recent…
Most countries are consistent with their international squad, making a few changes every year to bring in new, in form players. However, it’s become a habit of England’s in the last ten years, to completely change their squad from the start of the year, to the end. Sven Goran Eriksson, Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson have all made surprise inclusions to their squads for major tournaments and Hodgson could make another soon, when his announcement for the 2016 European Championship squad is revealed in May.
Theo Walcott – England, World Cup 2006
In 2006, one of the most shocking decisions in international history was Sven Goran Eriksen’s announcement that he was to take Theo Walcott to Germany. The Arsenal youngster was practically unheard of by most people and he was yet to make a first team appearance for The Gunners or England when Sven chose to include him in his 23-man squad. The 16 year-old was tipped to become England’s great star as he possessed blistering pace and good dribbling skills.
The youngster’s inclusion was even more shocking given the forwards Sven opted to leave at home, including Darren Bent. In the end, Walcott failed to make an appearance in the World Cup and he was later described as the country’s ‘ball boy’ for the tournament. He made headlines again four years later when he was shocking left OUT of England’s World Cup squad by Fabio Capello in 2010 but after gaining a free trip four years earlier, he couldn’t really complain too much…
Emile Heskey – England, World Cup 2010
Emile Heskey was once a celebrated striker with Liverpool and England and has made over 500 appearances in the Premier League. He’s been to three major international tournaments and has scored seven goals for his country, including one in England’s famous 5-1 victory over Germany in 2001. His selection for the 2000 and 2004 European Championships, as well as the 2002 World Cup were expected but when he was called up for duty in 2010 everyone was surprised.
Fabio Capello selected a side which would later be criticised after England failed to make it past the second round of the World Cup in South Africa and Heskey was one of those selections that were questioned. Heskey spent three years absent from the international scene until he was recalled in 2008 as part of Steve McClaren’s England squad that failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championships. The 32 year-old was struggling for first team football at Aston Villa in 2010 when Capello chose to take the forward to South Africa and despite starting in the first two games at the World Cup, he failed to make any impact in the tournament and his last game for England came as a substitute in their 4-1 defeat to Germany which sent them packing their bags and returning home.
Stephen Warnock – England, World Cup 2010
Stephen Warnock’s admission in Fabio Capello’s 2010 World Cup squad was another surprise selection and one which Leighton Baines wouldn’t have been happy with. The defender was playing with Aston Villa at the time and had only represented England for less than ten minutes after coming on as a substitute in the 84th minute in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago in 2008. The 28 year-old was selected at a cost to Leighton Baines, who’d played at left-back in England’s final two games before the tournament.
Jack Butland – England, European Championships 2012
Jack Butland is well known amongst fans across England and has been impressive recently for Stoke City. He was tipped to be going to France for the upcoming European Championships but the goalkeeper was left devastated as a recent broken ankle injury has now ruled him out of the summer tournament. However, the young keeper has already had a taste of what the European Championships hold when he was unexpectedly called up to the England squad in 2012 despite nobody really knowing who he was.
The former Birmingham City goalkeeper was on loan at Cheltenham Town in League Two when he received the call-up from England boss, Roy Hodgson. What was most surprising was that the keeper hadn’t made a single Premier League, Championship or League One appearance and was yet to make one at senior international level. He didn’t make an appearance of course, but enjoyed a nice summer trip.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – England, European Championships 2012
The fast winger was almost unheard of before 2012, and he made a rapid rise to the international scene before he was selected for the European Championships in 2012 by Roy Hodgson. The Gunner only made his first senior appearance for Southampton in 2010 and didn’t make an appearance for Arsenal in the Premier League until 2011, just one year before he was selected to travel with England. The youngster was just 18 when he chosen to start England’s first match in Ukraine ahead of Stewart Downing. ‘The Ox’ only made his England debut earlier that year and he’s now gone on to make 24 caps and has scored five goals at international level.