How Many International Caps?! Footballers With Extraordinarily Few or 0 International Appearances

International Caps

Earning international caps is a vindication of a footballer’s genuine talent. Confirmation that they are amongst the best of their generation.

At Euro 2024, there are many players in the tournament that have racked up 100 international caps or more for their country. A landmark event that is becoming easier to attain given the increasing opportunities for international matches.

A list of the centurions at the 2024 European Championships:

Euro 2024 International Cap Centurions

  • Germany – Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller
  • Switzerland – Granit Xhaka, Ricardo Rodriguez, Xherdan Shaqiri
  • Croatia – Matteo Kovacic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Domagoj Vida
  • Denmark – Kasper Schmeichel, Simon Kjaer, Christian Eriksen
  • Serbia – Dusan Tadic
  • Poland – Robert Lewandowski
  • Netherlands – Daley Blind
  • Austria – Marko Arnautovic
  • France – Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud
  • Belgium – Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku
  • Slovakia – Peter Pekarik, Juraj Kucka
  • Ukraine – Andriy Yarmolenko
  • Georgia – Guram Kashia
  • Portugal – Rui Patricio, Pepe, Cristiano Ronaldo

However, for all these huge talents, and the many others that are approaching 100 international caps, there are stories of wasted talent. Players that could and should have earned many more international caps than they did. Or even, were overlooked completely.

Our article below takes a look at some of these players. Criminally underused at international level. We have not included any current players in this review, only those that have retired.

Players With Criminally Few International Caps

Steve Bruce (England) – 0 caps

The former Manchester United skipper never won an international cap for England. His partner for long periods, Garty Pallister managed 22 for England. Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Sol Campbell, Mark Wright, Pallister and several other centre backs did get the call, but the United skipper of their most successful era never did enough to earn that elusive cap.

Mikel Arteta (Spain) – 0 caps

In Spain’s most dominant era, there were a number of players who didn’t receive the international caps that they deserved. Current Arsenal  manager Mikel Arteta was one of them. The ex-Rangers, Everton and Arsenal man never made a senior international appearance for Spain. To be fair, with Iniesta, Busquets and Xavi as first choice, with the likes of David Silva, Juan Mata, Javi Martinez and Santi Cazorla, he was unfortunate to be in an era of great Spanish midfielders.

Paolo Di Canio (Italy) – 0 caps

Paolo Di Canio was certainly one of the most talented and volatile players of his generation. It was the latter, rather than the former, which is likely to have been the reason why he was not selected by the Azzuri. On his day, he was unplayable, creative packed with flair and visiton and an ability to score goals. However, in an era that also saw the likes of Roberto Baggio, Gianfranco Zola, Demetrio Albertini, Roberto Donadoni and more, Di Canio never quite got a look in.

John McGovern (Scotland) – 0 caps

Only two players have captained their club to two Champions League victories for English teams. Phil Thompson of Liverpool is one in 1978 and 1981. Nottingham Forest midfielder John McGovern was the first doing so in the two years in between, 1979 and 1980. Incredibly, despite being a vital cog in Forest’s all-conquering midfield, the Scot was never called up for his country and failed to win a single international cap.

Laurie Cunningham (England) – 6 caps

One of the most talented players of his generation, Cunningham starred for West Brom in the late 1970s, earning a move to Real Madrid, where he enjoyed five successful years before moving to Marseille. He was tragically killed in a car crash when playing for Rayo Vallecano in Spain at the age of 33.

Matt Le Tissier (England) – 8 caps

Matt Le Tissier’s highlight reel for his career is littered with goals of breathtaking skill. The Guernsey-born right-footer played his entire career with Southampton but despite showing incredible skill, he only earned a paltry eight international caps for England.

Bernd Schuster (Germany) – 21 caps

In 1980, Bernd Schuster had the world at his feet. He had played a role in Germany’s 1980 European Championships win, and was voted the second best player at the tournament. However, arguments with the German FA, German manager Jupp Derwall and some teammates saw him retire from international football aged just 24. He went on to become a star for Barcelona and Real Madrid, before returning to Germany late in his career.

Ray Kennedy (England) – 17 caps

The former Arsenal striker moved to Liverpool and became as good a right midfielder as there was in his day. However, England repeatedly overlooked him, and he retired from international football in 1981 frustrated at his lack of game time with just 17 international caps.

Alan Hansen (Scotland) – 26 caps

Alan Hansen is arguably the greatest defender Scotland has ever produced. The tall ex-skipper of Liverpool only made 26 appearances for his country however, which is a scandalous amount given his ability. Successive Scotland managers felt the likes of Gordon McQueen, Willie Miller, Martin Buchan, Alex McLeish and others were more deserving of a call up than the elegant Liverpool centre-half.

Just Fontaine (France) – 21 caps

The man who scored the record number of goals at a single World Cup tournament (13) scored 30 goals for France between 1953 and 1960, yet he made just 21 appearances for Les Bleus over this period. Despite that, he is still joint ninth in the top scorers for France, level with Jean Pierre Papin and with one fewer goal than Zinedine Zidane.

Gianluigi Lentini (Italy) – 13 caps

After starring for Torino, Gianluigi Lentini became the most expensive player in football history when making the switch to AC Milan in 1992, (for 18.5 billion Lira, €14m). However, a car crash not long after he joined Milan took a toll on his talents and he eventually dropped down the divisions having made just 13 international appearances for his country.

And Finally…

We hope you enjoyed our look at some of the most underused football talents in the international game.

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Are there any footballers that you would add to this list?

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