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Top 5: England one-cap wonders

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With three England players taking their international bows last week, they will be hoping the moment will mark the start of a long career.

But for some unfortunate (or not-so talented) individuals, their first Three Lions appearance turned out to be the only time they represented their country.

From unlikely call-ups to the shortest ever England career, our top five all hold membership to one of the most unwanted clubs in international football — the one-cap wonders.

Take a look down our list to see where it all went wrong for these England hopefuls. Are you paying attention Mr Rodriguez?

Francis Jeffers

Heralded as the next big thing to hit English football, Jeffers looked well on his way to the top after bursting on to the scene at Everton and scoring a record 13 times for England under-21s.

But things began to unravel for the Scouser when he secured a big money £8-million move to Arsenal and failed to live up to his billing as the Fox in the Box.

Despite making a slow start at Highbury, Jeffers won his only cap in England’s 3-1 defeat to Australia in 2003 at Upton Park and netted the makeshift side’s only goal.

That wasn’t enough for Sven-Goran Eriksson to call him up again and Jeffers’ career continued on a downward curve — scoring just 22 league goals for a mishmash of clubs in the decade after leaving Arsenal.

Lee Hendrie

When promising Aston Villa starlet Hendrie made his international debut against Czech Republic in 1998, England looked to have got one up on rivals Scotland as well as a new midfield option.

Hendrie could have represented the Auld Enemy thanks to his Scottish parents but picked the Three Lions in the hope of nailing down a regular squad place… but it never materialised.

Despite failing to make the grade at international level, the diminutive midfielder enjoyed more than a decade at Villa, before a gambling addiction left him bankrupt and battling depression.

Spotted last year voraciously celebrating a victory for then-club Tamworth against neighbours Nuneaton Town in the Conference Premier, Hendrie’s idea of football glory has downgraded somewhat.

Peter Ward

In five minutes, you can pop to the corner shop for some milk, make a cup of tea or complete any number of small tasks.

But if you’re former Nottingham Forest forward Peter Ward, you can relive your entire international career.

Ward, who scored a hat-trick for the under-21 side in one of two appearances for the juniors, was awarded his only cap in an end-of-season friendly against Australia in 1980.

Having not touched the ball by the time the final whistle went, Wardy’s five minutes of fame wouldn’t be so memorable but for the cameo meaning his England career is the shortest ever.

Seth Johnson

One of England’s least celebrated internationals, Johnson won his first and only cap against Italy in 2000, just months after sealing a move to Premier League Derby County.

Rubbing shoulders with Georgi Kinkladze and former Scotland captain Craig Burley, Johnson made an excellent start to life at Pride Park and received unlikely recognition when Kevin Keegan called him up to his England squad for a game against Italy.

Unfortunately for the ex-Crewe Alexandra man, his combative style may have been a big hit in the league but he didn’t quite cut it at international level.

His performances did catch the eye of big-spending Leeds United but, after completing a £7-million transfer to Yorkshire, Johnson suffered a series of injuries that curtailed his career.

Michael Ricketts

Sven’s policy of giving international caps to any Englishman who showed any good form, meant several unfashionable players got a stab at international football.

Gavin McCann aside, the most unlikely player to win an England cap was cumbersome Bolton Wanderers striker Ricketts.

The big frontman scored 15 times for The Trotters as they returned to the Premier League in 2001/02 and was given 45 minutes to roam around the pitch against Holland in a February friendly as his reward.

Not surprisingly, Ricketts failed to show anything that would help England’s quest for World Cup glory later that year, as he partnered Darius Vassell and Emile Heskey up front.

The cap was a watershed moment for the Brummie, as he failed to score again for Bolton that season and went on to have a string of unsuccessful spells at several clubs.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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