Worst XIs #1 – England

Inspired by the horrible BBC Three show England’s Worst Ever Football Team, Worst XIs will pick a team at random and draw up a worst eleven players. Up first is England who will be playing the very English 4-4-2. And yes, Vinnie Jones definitely won’t be in this team…


Scott Carson – 4 caps


Poor Scott Carson. He was such a prospect when he was signed by Liverpool back in 2005. He was going to be a regular on the international scene for years to come. Then, sadly, he did actually play for England. And he was awful. His debut was reasonably promising as he kept a clean sheet against Austria but then things began to unravel for poor Carson. He was selected by then-boss Steve McLaren for the crucial qualifier against Croatia at a rain soaked Wembley. It was only Carson’s second cap but surely nothing could go wrong. As we all know, it did as he sort of spooned the ball into the net when Niko Kranjcar decided to have a bash from range. McLaren was promptly sacked and Carson was laughed at. It only got worse for Carson as his next appearance was a friendly against the Germans in Berlin. England won 2-1 but the German goal was a howler of the highest order by Carson who was too lazy to run and get the ball and when he did, proceeded to run into John Terry and hand a goal on a plate to Patrick Helmes. In positive news for Scott Carson, he didn’t make a mistake in his last appearance in 2011 against Sweden so his mistakes to caps ratio is only 50%. Silver linings and all that.

Right Back

Dave Watson – 12 caps


Everton fans may balk at this selection but ask yourself this – what did Dave Watson ever contribute in an England shirt? Sure, he’s an Everton and Norwich legend but his 12 caps are so anonymous that it’s a wonder if anyone remembers who he is out side of Goodison Park or Carrow Road. He made his debut in that famous win in the Maracana in 1984 and everybody forgot and he was part of the disaster that was Euro 88 which also proved to be the end of his international career. So, Dave Watson, the anonymous non contributor, is the right back.

Centre Back

Matthew Upson – 21 caps, 2 goals

Soccer - FIFA World Cup 2010 - Qualifying Round - Group Six - England v Croatia - Wembley Stadium

The scary part about the whole Matt Upson playing for England thing is that he was actually chosen to play at the 2010 World Cup. It wasn’t because Capello had exhausted all his options at centre back and had to play Matt Upson. He chose him. And he was reward…punished with some of the worst defending seen since Scotland appeared at the World Cup. Sure, Upson scored twice (both times against Germany) and he was a solid Premier League centre back for a while but at international level, against world class players; he was horrendous. Just for being generally bad and stealing 20 of his 21 caps (he played well in Germany once), Upson is one half of a bad partnership.

Centre Back

Ryan Shawcross – 1 cap


It’s perhaps unfair to put Shawcross in here but, like Upson, he is in because he was shown up as being a pretty average defender who looks good in the Premier League but struggles when playing internationally. His whole England career was spent trying to contain an on fire Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the only thing people remember is his bad attempt at stopping one of the greatest goals ever scored. It’s perhaps interesting that Shawcross has got nowhere near an England shirt since.

Left Back

Michael Ball – 1 cap


Just edging out Paul Konchesky and Tony Dorigo, Ball’s only appearance for England came as a sub for 31 year old Chris Powell (also a novice at international level). Ball didn’t play especially badly but it’s the fact that he even managed to gain an England cap that puts him on the list. He cost Rangers £6.5 million (just a taste of their reckless spending over the years) the same year as his international career took place before somehow playing in the Netherlands. Oh, and he’s also been in trouble for homophobic tweets so there’s that too.

Right Midfield

Jermaine Jenas – 21 caps, 1 goal


Like Upson, Jenas earned 21 caps which should be considered 20 too many. His international career was about as useful and anonymous as Dave Watson’s until he performed well and scored in Fabio Capello’s first game in charge. His other 20 appearances passed people by without any notice so it is somewhat surprising to learn that Jenas actually does have 21 caps and made his debut in 2003 and went to the 2006 World Cup. And those facts aren’t even made up or jokes. Jenas is stuck out on the right for the simple fact that he wasn’t bad enough to be in the middle of the field. Just like he wasn’t good enough to make an impression at international level.

Centre Midfield/Captain

Carlton Palmer – 18 caps, 1 goal


The measuring stick for all bad England players, Palmer is almost a cult hero for England fans. With legs longer than most streets, Palmer bounded around like a lost deer during his 18 appearances for his country. He summed up everything about Graham Taylor’s spell as England manager – awkward, ugly and sending balls everywhere but towards goal. Mind you, he did get a goal against San Marino. Which is pointless as everyone and their mother has scored against San Marino. Of course, his flailing limbs and lack of ability made him the perfect choice for the captaincy of this team in the centre of the park.

Centre Midfield

Seth Johnson – 1 cap


Yep. Seth Johnson. He did actually play for England. It’s probably fair at this point to answer the question on everyone’s mind – who in the f**k is Seth Johnson? Johnson was a promising midfielder who had came through the famed Crewe academy and had taken the Premier League by storm at Derby. He got to play in a friendly against Italy in 2000 thanks to Peter Taylor who, incidentally, only ever managed that one game for England. Anyway, Johnson then cost Leeds £7 million in 2001, got a bunch of injuries, faded into obscurity and now he appears on random lists like this one when anyone wants to trot out a bunch of useless England players or one cap wonders. Hence the perfect partner for Captain Awful Carlton Palmer.

Left Midfield

Steve McMahon – 17 caps


Steve McMahon was an excellent player. That is unquestionable. Sadly, he never came close to that level for England. He was a key cog in the Liverpool side of the late 1980s and was so good that then-England boss Bobby Robson was pestered about and even rapped to by ITV commentator Brian Moore that he should include McMahon. When he did, McMahon never delivered and his only notable moment for England came at the 1990 World Cup when he gifted the ball to Kevin Sheedy of Ireland who proceeded to score and earn the Irish a draw. Sadly, Macca has to be included because of his totally underwhelming career at international level.


John Fashanu – 2 caps


Imagine Carlton Palmer playing up front but without any footballing ability whatsoever. That is the perfect description of John Fashanu. Never has there been a player so woefully inept at actually playing football. His success came with a Wimbledon side that didn’t actually play football but instead fought with everyone and hoped Fash would bundle someone and the ball into the net. At international level, he was shown up for the awful, awful, awful footballer that he is. He won two caps too many and should have given them back immediately after each game out of sheer embarrassment.


Michael Ricketts – 1 cap

International Soccer - Friendly - Holland v England

For the first half of the 2001-02 Premier League season, Bolton were being led by a goal scoring machine by the name of Michael Ricketts. He had bagged 15 by February and deservedly was called up for the friendly against the Netherlands. Sadly for Michael, his whole career went south from there. His 45 minutes in an England shirt not only were his last but also cause him to forget how to score at all. He didn’t score again for Bolton and only scored about 45 goals in the rest of his career. 45 goals in 8 years is an appalling record for a striker and somehow his England cap caused all of this. Are there any other players whose careers have nosedived after international recognition? For that reason, Ricketts makes the team.



Lee Bowyer – 1 cap


The most booked player in the Premier League and an average midfielder, Bowyer somehow managed to make it to the England squad and set up a goal for Alan Smith (who almost made this team).

Francis Jeffers – 1 cap, 1 goal


Joint record scorer at under 21 level and possibly the biggest bust in Arsenal history, Jeffers was somehow called up in 2003, scored then never played for England again. How? Why? Nobody knows. Nobody cares either.


Steve McClaren

Soccer - UEFA European Championship 2008 Qualifying - Group E - England v Croatia - Wembley Stadium

The wally with the brolly. The man who gave David Nugent a cap. The man who compared David Bentley to David Beckham. The man who couldn’t even take England to a major tournament. The undisputed worst manager in England history (although Don Revie and Graham Taylor were seriously considered).

That completes England’s Worst XI. Do you agree? If not, what would you change? Is there anyone we missed out? Big thanks to @FussballMundial. @MarkyJohnJohn and @MeiaArmador for helping put this team together with their suggestions. Stay tuned for more and let us know what team you want to see next.



6 thoughts on “Worst XIs #1 – England

  1. Great list. The names of Gavin McCann, Lee Dixon, Keith Curle, Andy Sinton, Andy Hinchcliffe, Alan Smith and Ian Walker would’ve pushed this lot close . Of course who could remember/forget Luther Blissett whose career earned him the nickname Luther “Missett”. Andy Cole became the latterday Blissett

    Good article


    1. Thanks.

      Outstanding shouts there. Andy Cole was actually considered for a while but then Michael Ricketts and John Fashanu happened so he was spared (similar story for Alan Smith and Luther Blissett).

      Keith Curle was lucky because Upson and Shawcross appeared while, honestly, McCann, Dixon, Sinton, Hinchcliffe and Walker were completely forgotten about. Although I did remember Seth Johnson so small victories I suppose..

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, thinking about it, the only way you’d shove Ricketts and Fash out of the way is if I’d earned a call-up!

    And Seth Johnson is quite a valuable card in this game of Worst XI trumps. Not sure whether you remember the summer tours England used to have but they were always a catwalk of banality, or “rest of English League players we’ve never tried before”, especially when Australia was the destination.

    You see, this selection business isn’t as easy as you thought.


  3. How dare you mention Lee Dixon. Part of the best back 4 English football has ever seen, how dare you.

    Good team except for the back 4, you put decent players in there and there have been far worse. Keith Curle was awful even though he was lightning quick. John Scales was pants and Neill Ruddock was always a decent player but the guy weighed 25 stone. How dare you put shawcross in there.

    McMahon? Jenas? again, neither are the best but after seeing stuart ripley, geoff thomas, tony daley, gavin mccann and david whyte play for us, McMahon and Jenas would never make my team.

    Palmer, absolutely spot on. Seth Johnson, spot on. fashnua, spot on


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