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Best players to miss out on playing for England in major tournaments, includes Le Tissier, Merson and Gazza

IT has left England boss Gareth Southgate with quite the dilemma.

The re-emergence of Jesse Lingard, who is starring on-loan at West Ham, could mean Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish or Borussia Dortmund starlet Jadon Sancho getting snubbed for the upcoming Euros.

Jadon Sancho faces missing out on the England squad for the upcoming Euros[/caption]
Jack Grealish is another star Gareth Southgate could leave at home in the summer[/caption]

Lingard was recently recalled by the Three Lions for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

While Sancho hasn’t been as consistent this term in the Bundesliga, and Grealish has struggled with injury of late after a long, hard impressive season.

But should Sancho and Grealish miss out on selection, they won’t be the first big name to be left at home for a major tournament.

Here’s seven more that could’ve counted themselves unlucky at the time to miss out.


In 2012, aged 33, it’s fair to say Rio was past the peak of his powers.

However, he did still offer a wise and experienced head at the back, and had come off a decent season for Manchester United.

But Ferdinand was left “gutted” to have been left out of England’s Euro 2012 squad.

Manager Roy Hodgson explained the decision was made for footballing reasons, but Ferdinand’s omission did avoid any potential conflict with the selected John Terry, who months later faced allegations in court that he racially abused Rio’s brother, Anton.

The FA - Getty Images
Rio Ferdinand was snubbed from the Euro 2012 squad[/caption]

“I admire Rio Ferdinand as a player,” Hodgson explained. “I think he’s a fine footballer and I respect him, but I had to pick a squad with defenders I wanted to take to the Euros.”

Phil Jones and Joleon Lescott got nods ahead of Ferdinand.


Ex-England boss Glenn Hoddle once described it as the “saddest thing he ever had to do.”

After Gazza was instrumental in helping his country in the qualifiers, he was told he wouldn’t be going to France ’98.

The hero two-years earlier at Euro ’96, Gascoigne was given an ultimatum about his fitness. But Hoddle felt he just wasn’t up to it.

According to reports, Gazza smashed up Hoddle’s hotel room when he was told the news.

The mercurial midfielder was never picked for England again.

News Group Newspapers Ltd
Gazza was reportedly furious when Glenn Hoddle told him he wouldn’t be picked for the 1998 World Cup[/caption]


Although Merse got the nod ahead of Gazza for France ’98, he could count himself unlucky not to have gone to Italia ’90.

In fine fine form at Arsenal, and only 22, the ‘Magic Man’ won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award in 1989.

But Bobby Robson only picked three forwards for the World Cup, with the striking positions being taken by Gary Lineker, Peter Beardsley and Steve Bull.

Nine midfielders were selected, including a relatively unknown Gazza and Bryan Robson, who struggled with injury and missed the majority of the competition.

Getty - Contributor
In 1989 Paul Merson was the best young player in the country, but that didn’t get him an England call-up a year later for Italia ’90[/caption]


Arguably, the most talented footballer of his generation it’s criminal Le Tissier didn’t get the international recognition he deserved.

Possibly, because he played for an unfashionable club in Southampton at the time, might’ve been why he was overlooked.

But the Saints legend only managed eight caps in his career, despite scoring 209 goals for his club.

Had England qualified for the 1994 World Cup, he might’ve had a chance of being selected.

He was also overlooked for the 1998 World Cup, even after impressing in an England B game against Russia – scoring a hat-trick.

A hat-trick playing England B against Russia wasn’t enough to earn Matt Le Tissier a place in the squad for the 1998 World Cup[/caption]


Experience, perhaps, wasn’t on Mr Arsenal’s side when Bobby Robson was selecting his Italia ’90 squad.

And the formation wouldn’t have been to the Gunners legend’s strengths – playing in a back three, when he was used to a flat back four in North London.

Adams’ spot went to Mark Wright, a more cultured sweeper who could bring the ball out of defence better than his counterpart.

At Euro ’92, Martin Keown and Des Walker were the preferred two. However, Adams was restored to the first team before Euro ’96, where he had an outstanding tournament.

Getty Images - Getty
Tony Adams wasn’t selected for Italia ’90 or Euro ’92, but was picked in subsequent tournaments after[/caption]


In 2014, it was a close call in the striking positions for a partner for Wayne Rooney.

In fairness to Roy Hodgson, Defoe didn’t do himself any favours by moving to the MLS to play for Toronto months before the squad for the World Cup that year was decided.

Rickie Lambert, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge were picked instead, leaving Defoe devastated.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be at peace [with the decision],” the striker said at the time.

Jermain Defoe was omitted from the 2014 World Cup squad by Roy Hodgson in favour of Rickie Lambert[/caption]


Good enough for Real Madrid, but not for England.

The brilliant winger, whose life was tragically cut short at 33 in a car crash, joined Los Blancos after starring at West Brom for £950,000 in 1979. In doing so, he became the first British footballer to move to the LaLiga giants.

However, Ron Greenwood completely snubbed him from his Euro 1980 squad.

The following season, Cunningham made the squad for the qualifiers, after bitter negotiations with Real Madrid.

But after appearing as a sub in a 2-1 defeat to Romania, he would never wear an England jersey again.

News Group Newspapers Ltd
The late Laurie Cunningham found himself on the periphery of the England squad, despite starring for Real Madrid[/caption]

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