One Cap Wonders

International friendly week can often throw up an odd inclusion or a player drafted in as a stop gap. In most sports the pinnacle is representing your country and every young English footballer must dream that one day they’ll represent England and wear the famous ‘Three Lions’. But, there is one exclusive club that nobody wants to join, the ever growing list of ‘One Cap Wonders’, with that in mind, I decided to look at some of the players who appeared once for their country and then never again.


Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock (1/0)

vs Nigeria; 1-0; Nov’ 1994

Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock was at the heart of Liverpool’s defence during the mid 90’s and it was at this time that he got his first and last call up to represent his country. Ruddock says he was at a funeral when he received word that he had been called up to one of Terry Venables pre Euro’96 squads and “believed it to be a wind up”. Ruddock played well in the game, getting a full 90 minutes and helping England keep a clean sheet against a talented Nigeria side, but it wasn’t enough to earn him another chance with the national team.

Throughout his career he battled with weight problems and was often criticised for being unfit, as well as disciplinary problems, which saw Ruddock break both of Andy Cole’s legs in a reserve fixture and Peter Beardsley’s cheek bone in a testimonial match. The emergence of Gareth Southgate and Sol Campbell at centre back led to Ruddock being marginalised.

Ruddock went on to make 115 appearances for Liverpool and had spells at QPR, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Swindon Town. Ruddock retired from football in 2003 and he currently makes regular reality tv appearances.

Seth Johnson (1/1)

vs Italy; 0-1; Nov’ 2000

 Seth Johnson, a tenacious young central midfielder, plying his trade in the lower leagues with Crewe  Alexandra, began to win plaudits for his role in the clubs survival in the Championship by a single point  in the 1998/99 season. Part of Dario Gradi’s fantastic production line at the south Cheshire club, which  had produced England internationals such as David Platt, Danny Murphy, Rob Jones and fellow one   cap wonder Dean Ashton, Johnson’s potential led to him being recruited by Premier League outfit  Derby County for £3m.

A year into his stay with Derby, Johnson was called up to the England squad by Peter Taylor (caretaker manager for one game) to face Italy in a friendly. England suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Azzurri on a wet and windy night at a 30% full Stadio delle Alpi in Turin. The game being noted as David Beckham’s first as England captain and for Gennaro Gattuso scoring what is still his only goal for Italy in 73 caps. Johnson came on as a 73rd minute sub for Gareth Barry, making his 17 minutes in and England shirt one of the shortest international careers in history.

There is an interesting anecdote allegedly about Seth Johnson doing the rounds from his £7m move from Derby to Leeds United in 2001. In his personal terms negotiations with Peter Risdale (Leeds Chairman) Johnson and his agent agreed in advance to hold out for £16k a week. So Risdale opens up the talks with “We are willing to pay you £26k a week”. The flabbergasted agent replies “Well that wasn’t quite what we were expecting”. “Right so, £32k a week is my final offer” said Risdale. Seth Johnson is reported to have fallen of his chair.

Seth Johnson suffered multiple injury problems and returned to Derby from Leeds on a free transfer in 2005, from where he was released in 2007. He is currently without a club.

Michael Ricketts (1/0)

vs Netherlands; 1-1;  Feb’ 2002

The 2001/2002 season started magically for Ricketts, after gaining promotion with Bolton Wanderers the previous season, Ricketts had a blistering start to the campaign scoring 15 Premier League goals by January, including the winner in a 2-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. Sven Goran Eriksson called Ricketts up to a pre World Cup’2002 experimental squad to face the Netherlands in a friendly at the Amsterdam Arena, along with fellow debutants Darius Vassell and Wayne Bridge. Ricketts started the match and managed 45 minutes, before being substituted for Kevin Phillips.

Michael Ricketts failed to score another league goal for over a year following his first and last England cap and has subsequently only scored 26 goals in the following 9 years at 11 different league clubs.

Ricketts is currently a free agent after being released by Tranmere Rovers in January 2010, he is also serving a 12 month community order for assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

 Lee Bowyer (1/0)

vs Portugal; 1-1; Sep’2002

Lee Bowyer first drew attention in 1995, when he failed a drugs test for cannabis use. Bowyer was dropped from the England U18 squad and suspended by his club Charlton Athletic for eight weeks while he took part in a drug rehabilitation course organised by the FA. The following year Bowyer was signed by Leeds United for £2.8m, at the time a record for a British teenager.

It took some time for Bowyer to break into the Leeds first team, but under David O’Leary he soon made the central midfield role his own, becoming a key player in the side that qualified for the Champions League in 99/00, and which reached the semi finals of the competition in 2001, in which he scored crucial goals against A.C. Milan and Barcelona. He was voted the Leeds player of the year by supporters in both the 98/99and 00/01 seasons.

Bowyer’s form led to calls for inclusion in the England squad; however, the FA ruled that he could not be selected until the court case in relation to an assault on an Asian student was completed.The FA eventually cleared Bowyer for selection following the conclusion of the court case and England manager Sven Goran Eriksson called him into the squad for an international friendly against Portugal in September 2002.

Bowyer started the game, made an assist and acquitted himself well, lasting 62 minutes before being replaced by Trevor Sinclair. England drew the game 1-1, a game in which another one cap wonder made his only appearance; David Dunn coming on as a second half substitute for Steven Gerrard.

Bowyer moved to West Ham United, his boyhood club the following year, before a spell at Newcastle United where he was involved in an infamous on pitch bust up with team mate Kieron Dyer, in which they were both sent off. In 2006 he rejoined West Ham, where he spent 3 seasons before moving to Birmingham City on a free transfer in 2009.

Bowyer is currently without a club after being released by Birmingham City following their relegation to the Championship. He has made over 400 Premier League appearances scoring 58 goals.


Francis Jeffers (1/1)

vs Australia; 1-3; Feb’2003

Francis Jeffers was a prolific goalscorer with Everton as a youngster, scoring 20 league  goals in 45 games and earning the coveted strikers nickname ‘fox in the box’. In 2001 he  was recruited by Arsene Wenger to join the Arsenal revolution for £8m, linking up with  strikers Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Kanu and Sylvain Wiltord. Jeffers time at  Arsenal was dogged by injury, but the youngster who still holds the England U21 goal  scoring record (13 goals in 16 caps) managed a call up to Sven Goran Eriksson’s full  squad for a friendly with Australia in 2003 at Upton Park.

Jeffers came on as a second half substitute, replacing Michael Owen and managed to    score a terrific glancing header, but the game will be remembered chiefly for the humiliating 3-1 defeat and for the England debut of Wayne Rooney as well as Paul Robinson, James Beattie, Jermaine Jenas and Paul Konchesky. Jeffers only made a handful of further appearances for Arsenal before joining Everton on loan and moving on to a further 7 different clubs, including Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday, Blackburn Rovers and Australian A League side Newcastle Jets.

In the 8 years following his England appearance he has only managed a total of 14 league goals. Jeffers is currently playing for SPL side Motherwell, where his contract expires at the end of June 2011.






About oreillyskills
The blog of a Journalism student with the mission of providing an informative and entertaining spin on the most hotly-debated football stories and an irreverent look at the funny side of the beautiful game.

5 Responses to One Cap Wonders

  1. aiyic says:

    Jeepers! I remember the promise some of these lads had.

  2. Henry Ainslie says:

    Great RT by David Conn. An entertaining read with greT detail. Good luck mate! I’ll be looking out for your stuff!

  3. Cheers Henry. Going to try and get a blog on here every Wednesday morning.

  4. Won't Techno for an answer. says:

    Where’s David Nugent in all this? 1 Cap 1 goal – can’t knock that international record Fisher.

    • Only had a look at 5 and felt the others warranted their places ahead of him, although Nugent will undoubtedly never play for England again he will go down in folklore. 1 Cap, 1 Goal from around 6 inches off the line.

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