Fulham and England

If Bobby Zamora makes his debut for England tonight, and all reports suggest he will, he’ll be only the fourth Fulham player to feature for the national team since we arrived in the Premier League 10 seasons ago. At 29 not even Bobby’s greatest fan could have predicted this opportunity a year ago but having completed one of the most amazing seasons in his career thus far he undoubtedly deserves his chance.

England are at a low ebb right now. If nothing else, our performance in South Africa opened a few eyes. We’re not quite as talented as we once thought and need to improve in a lot of areas if we’re going to compete with the world’s best. In the short term this means building a team for Euro 2012. Could Zamora be a genuine contender to be a part of the squad? The experience of Fulham’s other recent English hopefuls suggest it won’t be easy.

In February 2003 Sean Davis became the first Fulham player to be selected for England since George Cohen’s last game in November 1967. The friendly played at Upton Park saw England lose 3-1 to Australia and despite Sven-Goran Eriksson using 22 players Sean remained on the bench. Davis played one more full season for Fulham before moving on to Spurs but has yet to be selected for England again.

An injury crisis in defence gave Zat Knight his chance during a summer tour of the USA in May 2005. England played two friendlies and Zat featured in both. The first match, a 2-1 win over the States in Chicago, saw Knight replace Sol Campbell at half time. Zat earnt his first start, and played the full 90 minutes, three days later as England beat Colombia 3-2 in New Jersey. The tour was more about financial rewards than developing a team for the 2006 World Cup but in truth Zat didn’t do enough to suggest he deserved to be any higher in the Centre Back pecking order. Much like Sean Davis, selection for England raised Zat’s expectations but it was another two seasons before he moved on to Aston Villa.

The inimitable Jimmy Bullard secured our most recent brush with the three lions. Selected for back to back World Cup Qualifiers in September 2008. An unimpressive 2-0 win against Andorra was followed by a stunning 4-1 victory over Croatia in Zagreb. Both games were negotiated without the need for Jimmy to remove his tracksuit and after less than four months JB was on his way to Hull with a price tag befitting an England International.

Can Zamora stake a claim to feature in the squad for more than just one game? Can he be the first Fulham player of the Premier League era to earn a cap in a competitive match? To do so he would need to convince Capello that he has something to offer in qualifying for the 2012 European Championships. Despite a poor World Cup, Wayne Rooney remains key to a successful English team. Bobby may well provide the perfect foil for Rooney’s talent. He’ll certainly bring a work ethic to the side that appeared seriously missing in South Africa.

I’ve made the mistake of getting over excited about Fulham players picked for England in the past. I really upset some scousers when Jimmy B got the call and with hindsight they were probably right. I do hope that Bobby does himself credit and will be very proud to see him take the field however long he gets.

14 thoughts on “Fulham and England

  1. Feb 2003. England 1 – Australia 3. In Football, In England. One of Australia’s greatest sporting achievements.

    Seeing Harry Kewell put Rio on his @rse with a step-over and scoring is regularly shown in Aus.

    England have been too scared to play us again :-)

    A classic case of a foreign national manager not really understanding the culture. Australia were always going to run over broken glass in that game. Sven treated it like an easy friendly against 2nd rate opposition.

  2. This time I guess the difference is that Bobby Z could become a crucial component of the England team, and this hasn’t happened since Cohen.

    I certainly will be watching tonight and hoping that Zamora shines!

    1. I meant to say that. I almost certainly wouldn’t have bothered watching had Zamora not been in the squad. I think the game is poorly timed and probably won’t make a massive difference to our ability to perform in September. That said if it gives Bobby the chance to stake his claim it can’t be all bad!

  3. Zamora’s the most technically gifted centre-forward in England. He’ll lead the line and feed on-running attackers better than anyone out there. But his success is largely dependent on others. He needs the right men playing behind him (obviously Rooney in the middle, but also quality players in the wide attacking spots) and he needs fans to accept that his role is to be part of an integrated unit and not to create and score his own goals once the ball is delivered to him. It will be very tough, especially given the wider-public’s sense that he’s somehow an even-worse Heskey. But as Alex says, given the lack of other players similar to him, his success could be crucial to England’s going forward.

  4. Really hope so Tony – Would love to see him at least be a regular through the Euros in 2012.

    That’s some statement rjbiii. I think Rooney is good technically too but there aren’t many others I can think of.

    1. Obviously Rooney is more technically gifted than Zamora, as are a number of other forwards/attacking midfielders in England. I just don’t see Rooney as a centre-forward. Rooney is a second striker/deep-lying forward. He should not be played as a centre-forward merely because he’s six-foot tall and built.

  5. Thought Gera was their best player, lovely to see him back in the side and as captain.

    England’s best player was Zam… No I’m not that biaised, Gerrard probably deserved the MotM award. Good stuff from Bobby though, think he’s earned another go. The shot from distance that Kiraly tipped over had me off my seat.

  6. Not a Fulham fan (sorry) but trying to think who the other 3 Fulham football players to play for England. Any help please?

      1. I may be confused, but I think maybe you’re misreading the question here – it seems to me that Hayley was asking who was referred to by “If Bobby Zamora makes his debut for England tonight, and all reports suggest he will, he’ll be only the fourth Fulham player to feature for the national team since we arrived in the Premier League 10 seasons ago.” Which is a bit misleading since Knight was the only other one (besides Zamora, now) to actually *play* for England.

        Are Haynes, Cohen, Knight and Zamora really the only ones to play for England while with Fulham? Seems like there must’ve been others back in the pre-Haynes days, no?

        1. Oh. My head hurts a bit now.

          I think you might be right Josh and I suppose “feature” does suggest “play” which isn’t what I was intending to say.

          You’re right about pre-Haynes players too. Seven other players gained England caps whilst at Fulham. John Arnold (1 in 1933), Albert Barrett (1 in 1930), Bedford Jezzard (2 from 1954-56), Jim Langley (3 in 1958), Len Oliver (1 in 1929), Frank Osbourne (4 from 1923-24 – though some of those where after a move to Spurs) and Jim Taylor (2 in 1951).

          Which makes Zamora the 11th footballer to play for England whilst at Fulham.

          Phew!

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