England’s B team is a mythical beast.
Sometimes official, sometimes unofficial, crammed full of seasoned internationals scrapping it out alongside future one-cap wonders.
Matt Le Tissier bagged a hat-trick for England B in the build up to the 1998 World Cup but wasn’t selected in Glenn Hoddle’s tournament squad.
Chris Sutton didn’t even bother turning up and was never picked by England again.
But if you’re of a certain age- someone who’s owned a fidget spinner or now dedicates their life to Fortnite- you’re unlikely to remember England B.
In fact the Three Lion Cubs haven’t stepped out since 26 May 2007.
On that day Steve McClaren oversaw a 3-1 win against the mighty Albania. So let’s put on our Classics and we’ll have a little dance, shall we?
(By that we mean take a walk down memory lane)
Made in Romford and Hastings, scored in Yorkshire
England’s opener wasn’t quite like watching Brazil but it was better than watching what England normally produce.
Reading’s Nicky Shorey whipped in a cross straight to Gareth Barry, who inexplicably found himself in Albania’s box.
Barry laid the ball off to future holding midfielder Alan Smith who buried it in the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
The ‘new David Beckham’ assists the solution to England’s left-sided problems
Name a better combination than David Bentley’s right foot and Stewart Downing’s left foot.
Okay, that’s quite easy. But for a glorious period it looked like England had found a predecessor to David Beckham and a solution to the age-old left-sided problem at the same time.
As it was, defenders quickly got wise to Downing’s drop of the shoulder, while Bentley fell out of love with football and peaked at seven England caps.
Still, for one night in May everything looked as rosy as McClaren’s cheeks after a month in a sunscreen-shy Costa del Sol.
The world’s 78th best international team strike back
Fair play to Albania, they didn’t show any respect for a defence containing Scott Carson in goal, Phil Neville at right-back and Shorey at left-back.
Besart Berisha, who once beat Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez to a German youth league golden boot, pulled one back before half-time.
His career meandered along before a move to Australia where he transformed into the Albanian R9.
What he hasn’t won in Oz isn’t worth winning.
That boy Steve back at it again
With one fell swoop of his left foot Downing put the game to bed.
Unfortunately he didn’t ever manage to get on the scoresheet for England’s senior side, despite playing 35 times.
Yep, you read that right, 35 times.
What became of the likely lads?
Of all the players used by McClaren that day, how many caps did each man win?
Funny you ask…
- Scott Carson: 4 caps (0 goals)
- Phil Neville: 59 (0)
- Phil Jagielka: 40 (3)
- Michael Dawson: 4 (0)
- Ledley King: 21 (2)
- Nicky Shorey: 2 (0)
- Joleon Lescott: 26 (1)
- David Bentley: 7 (0)
- Jermain Defoe: 57 (20)
- Jermaine Jenas: 21 (1)
- Gareth Barry: 53 (3)
- Steven Taylor: 0 (0)
- Aaron Lennon: 21 (0)
- Stewart Downing: 35 (0)
- Michael Owen: 89 (40)
- Alan Smith: 19 (1)
- Kieron Dyer: 33 (0)
Spare a thought for Rob Green and David Nugent.
Neither managed to get on the pitch against Albania, although Nugent is now the proud owner of one of the best England goal ratios ever.
Can’t ever take that goal against Andorra back, not matter how much Defoe tries.
READ MORE FROM THE WORLD OF DREAM TEAM:
- Paris’ other club are on the verge of reigniting one of football’s lesser-known rivalries
- Which country has the better pair of full-backs — Brazil or Spain?
- Would the best team in each ‘top five’ league beat their respective host nation?