Premier League XI: Title winners never at major tournament

November 12, 2020

Having helped Liverpool to success on the domestic front, Andy Robertson will be hoping to lead Scotland to international glory in the country’s European Championship play-off tie with Serbia. The left-back will be hoping the Scots reach a first major tournament since 1998, meaning he’d avoid joining the ranks of Premier League winners who never featured in a World Cup or continental championship. Here’s a team made up from those very players. 


Goalkeeper: Mark Bosnich
After spending time as a teenager on Manchester United’s books, Mark Bosnich returned to Old Trafford in 1999 as Alex Ferguson made his first attempt at replacing Danish legend Peter Schmeichel. The Australian’s unenviable task ultimately ended in failure after Fabian Barthez was signed the following summer but Bosnich still managed to pick up a Premier League medal after the Red Devils comfortably retained the title after their treble-winning season. Bosnich rarely featured for the Socceroos, preferring to concentrate on his club career, and never made a World Cup or OFC Nations Cup squad. If you fancy a goalkeeper challenge, try naming the ‘keeper with the most Premier League title wins who never won an international cap.


Right-back: Lee Dixon
England having plenty of options on the right-hand side of defence is certainly nothing new, with legendary Arsenal defender Lee Dixon finding himself behind Gary Stevens and Paul Parker in the early nineties before the younger duo of Gary Neville and the woefully-undercapped Rob Jones moved ahead of him. Dixon still managed to feature for the Three Lions on 22 occasions and briefly returned to the international scene in his mid-thirties but never played in a tournament. His fellow pundit Micah Richards is also eligible for this side, as is his former team-mate at Highbury, Oleg Luzhny.


Centre-back: Gary Pallister
With four Premier League titles to his name, 1992 PFA Player’s Player of the Year Gary Pallister is one of the most successful players in the competition’s history, yet he never appeared for England at a major international tournament. Like Dixon, Pallister won 22 international caps and would have most likely featured for the Three Lions at the 1994 World Cup had they qualified, especially with the tournament coming straight after a Manchester United domestic double.


Centre-back: Steve Bould
A recent Premier League winner with Liverpool, Joe Gomez is yet to feature for England at the Euros or World Cup, whilst Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte remains uncapped by France. But both men have time on their side to change that, so the second centre-back spot goes to former Arsenal defender Steve Bould. A late England debutant, Bould didn’t appear for the Three Lions until he was 31 years old and was out of contention by the time Euro’96 came around, but he still featured regularly for the Gunners and picked up a Premier League medal in 1998.


Left-back: Nigel Winterburn
The third member of Arsenal’s famous five in this defence, Nigel Winterburn has the shortest international career of the lot. Despite winning the 1998 Premier League with Arsenal, as well as picking up First Division titles with the Gunners in 1989 and 1991, Winterburn spent less than half an hour on the pitch for the Three Lions, with Stuart Pearce and Graeme Le Saux firmly ahead of him in the England set-up. Current Chelsea full-back Marcus Alonso is also eligible for this side, as is former Blues defender Asier del Horno, who won the title in 2006.


Right wing: Ray Parlour
Yet another Arsenal hero who never featured in a major international tournament, Ray Parlour won three Premier League titles under Arsene Wenger and ended his career with the Gunners after the invincible season of 2003/04. In the May of 2000, Parlour suffered a knee injury whilst playing for England in a friendly against Brazil which ruled him out of contention for the European Championship in Belgium and Holland that summer and he’d fallen further down the pecking order by the time of the 2002 World Cup.


Central midfield: Tim Sherwood
Captain of Blackburn Rovers in the club’s title-winning 1994/95 season, Tim Sherwood remained uncapped until 1999, by which time he was playing for Spurs under George Graham (who has managed over half the players in this side and never played in a major international tournament for Scotland). Despite Blackburn owner Jack Walker’s opinion that Sherwood was comparable to Zinedine Zidane, Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle preferred to stick with Paul Ince at the heart of the England midfield.


Central midfield: Darren Fletcher
Still only 36, Darren Fletcher could be forgiven for being a little envious if his former Scotland team-mates reach a European Championship. A five-time Premier League champion with Manchester United, Fletcher’s international career didn’t reach the same heights, with an agonisingly close Euro 2008 qualifying campaign the nearest he got to featuring at a major international tournament. Two superb wins against France looked to have set the Scots up for a spot in Austria and Switzerland but a surprise defeat to Georgia in the side’s penultimate game followed by a heart-breaking extra-time defeat to Italy left the team in third place.


Left wing: Ryan Giggs
The most successful Premier League player of all-time never had the chance to play in a World Cup or European Championship, although Ryan Giggs will finally have the chance to represent Wales at a major tournament as manager next summer. Lee Sharpe, one of Giggs’ former team-mates at Manchester United, takes the back-up spot on the left just in case the Welshman has to pull out with shin splints. The West Midlands-born winger won three Premier League titles but played his last game for England at the age of just 22.


Striker: Mark Hughes
Wales failed to qualify for the Euros or the World Cup in the eighties and nineties, despite possessing the talents of Giggs, Neville Southall, Ian Rush, Gary Speed, Dean Saunders and powerful Manchester United forward Mark Hughes. The Dragons came close to making Mexico in 1986, with Hughes scoring a spectacular scissor-kick in a 3-0 win over Spain in qualifying. He later bagged the opening goal against Scotland in Wales’ final match of the campaign but a late Davie Cooper equaliser from the penalty spot saw the Scots go through instead on goal difference.


Striker: Ian Wright
Arsenal legend Ian Wright completes the side, with the London-born striker missing on all the England tournament squads in the nineties despite regularly featuring at the top of the scoring charts domestically. Wright isn’t the only Premier League-winning England striker to have never featured in a European Championship or World Cup, with 187-goal Andrew Cole never featuring regularly for the Three Lions despite picking up honours at home and abroad with Manchester United. Dion Dublin is also eligible for the side having won the league title in the Premier League’s inaugural season whilst Chris Sutton also takes a spot on the bench having lifted the trophy with Blackburn Rovers in 1995.


James Wiles – whose Instagram has a whole load more XIs

Mark Smith and Matt Stead know all about disappointments. Join them to discover that Chelsea are the only Big Six club without representation on this week’s top ten.

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