The Premier League is known for having internationals of all levels, with every country respecting the prestige that comes with playing in one of the best leagues in the world. So here is a list of those players who were/are eligible to play for their country but have somehow been bypassed.
1. Kevin Nolan – England
The Liverpudlian has played in the Premier League for the majority of his career, firstly with Bolton Wanderers and then Newcastle United, the club he helped to promotion from the Championship in 2010.
The 32-year-old then moved onto West Ham United in 2011 where he has been ever since. Nolan has never been given an England cap despite some brilliant and consistent displays for clubs that maybe aren’t considered a lot anymore when scouting for international players.
For an attacking midfielder Nolan scores a considerable amount of goals. Last season he scored less with just seven goals compared to ten in the 2012/13 season but this is still a good return for a midfield player.
Nolan could be considered one of those players that came during the wrong generation and was pushed to the fringes by players like Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes and Frank Lampard. Who knows what would have been if there wasn’t as much talent in the England squad at the time when Nolan was considered to be at the height of his career.
2. Sylvain Distin – France
With players like Laurent Koscielny, Mamadou Sakho and Eliaquim Managala now making up the French defence there is little chance today we are likely to see the 36-year-old Distin breaking into the French squad.
It is surprising however that a player who is so synonymous with the Premier League and in particular this great generation of Everton players has not been capable of grabbing the attention of the French national team manager.
The 36-year-old gained his first experience of the Premier League following a loan move to Newcastle United from PSG. There he moved onto Manchester City for five years just before the club became as potent a force in England as they’re today.
From there he went to Portsmouth but it was the subsequent move to Everton in 2009 up until present day is what he will be remembered for. The group of players that are at the club now are some of the best the club has seen but it looks as though the time for Distin to play his international football may have passed him by as he’s now at the ripe old age (in footballing terms) of 36.
3. José Enrique – Spain
Enrique’s country of birth have produced some of the best names world football has seen in recent years. His appearances were limited last season due to having to undergo knee surgery but he has to feel slightly unlucky not to make the Spanish international squad in recent years, especially under Brendan Rodgers where the performances of the club have improved remarkably.
Looking at Spain’s options even today you can get a picture of why a regular starter in one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs isn’t capable of getting his game with his national side. Players like Jordi Alba are just another level above the 28-year-old. At his age he still has time to make an impact on the international stage but it will be unlikely that we see Enrique make a Rickie Lambert-esque first appearance for his country.
4. Steve Sidwell – England
A player who once upon a time played for the likes of Chelsea, he never managed to get an England cap even at the height of his career. Sidwell actually started his senior career at Arsenal but his time there, up until 2003 was just a series of loan moves to the likes of Brentford, Beveren and Brighton.
In 2003 Sidwell signed for Reading where he would stay until 2007. His most noteworthy moment at the Royals was helping them win promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history in 2006.
Sidwell helped Reading to a better than expected, eight place finish the subsequent season. It was this superb team performance, helped in turn by Sidwell’s midfield performances, which earned him a move to Premier League giants, Chelsea.
Although a move like this may spell a call up to the England international squad it wasn’t to be for Sidwell as he only made 15 appearances in the league for the Stamford Bridge side. Combined with this lack of game time was that England’s midfield boasted Steven Gerrard, Frank Lamapard and Michael Carrick there wasn’t much hope of Sidwell being included.
Sidwell recently signed for Stoke City following a three-year spell at relegated Fulham.
5. Steve Bruce – England
Bruce is best known for his time at Manchester United where he amassed 309 appearances for the Red Devils and captained the famous Manchester club. Bruce won many honours with the club at the beginning of its most successful period in English football. This role of honour includes three league titles, three FA Cups, (including the double in 1994) as well as one league cup, four F.A. Charity Shields, one EUFA Super Cup and one Cup Winners’ Cup.
When looking at these honours, of which he was captain for many, Bruce has to be one of the unluckiest players when it comes to international exclusion.
For the European Championships of 1992 one would surely have expected Bruce, in the height of his career to have been selected as part of the squad but instead Stuart Pierce, Martin Keown and Mark Wright were selected ahead of him to name a few.
Bruce went onto play for Birmingham and Sheffield United where he never really regained the form he had set at United. He is now manager of Hull City who he guided to a 16th place Premier League finish and a first F.A. Cup final appearance for the club, which subsequently gave them a place in this season’s Europa League.
So there you have it; five players that you may have thought were once capped at senior international level but unfortunately they haven’t made the cut. Realistically Enrique is the only one that still has a chance of playing his way into Vincente del Bosque’s good books before he decides to retire but don’t hold your breath.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena.
Featured image By Ruaraidh Gillies (Flickr: Get it out, get it long) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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