You cannot genuinely claim to have achieved it all as a player upon retirement if you did not etch your name in gold in the annals of your country’s footballing history, with the chance to play at a World Cup being the childhood dream of many footballers. Down is listed some of the greatest players who never received an international cap.
5. Steve Bruce (England)
Steve Bruce at Man United:
One of the best players to never play for England. pic.twitter.com/otwzc7RR5M
— Football Remind (@FootballRemind) July 19, 2016
Steve is a Manchester United legend, who represented the Red Devils for nine successful seasons, and captained the club for two years until his departure in 1996. An absolute rock in the center of defense, Bruce won plenty admirers.
However, while his defensive partner would go on to represent England on 22 occasions, Bruce was shockingly never called up to the national team.
He was offered the chance to represent Ireland (through his mother’s place of birth), but a UEFA youth tournament he participated in for England rendered him ineligible, although he also stated in his autobiography that he did not pursue it in order not to cause United problems in exceeding the max number of foreign players allowed at a club.
4. Dario Hubner (Italy)
— Little Child (@angga_jf) November 23, 2014
Dario Hubner was one of the most consistent performers in the Italian League during the middle of the 1990s and beginning of the 2000s.
Bisonte, as he was fondly called (in reference to his playing pattern like a bull), scored over 300 goals in a career spanning almost two decades and made history as the oldest man to win the Serie A capoconeire (Golden Boot) in 2002 aged 35.
However, for all of his goals, he never received an international call-up to the Italian national team. A couple of reasons were responsible for this, including the fact that he competed for spots with legendary forwards such as Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri, but more so because of his poor disciplinary record and questionable work rate.
3. Paolo Di Canio (Italy)
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) January 27, 2018
One of the most controversial yet talented players in the history of the Premier League, Di Canio was as capable of delivering a flash of brilliance in one minute, and a moment of madness in the very next.
He provided a highlight reel of eccentric performances throughout his seven-year stay in England, garnering headlines for peculiar acts including when he received an eleven match ban for pushing a referee down in 1998, as well as picking up the ball and stopping play while his team was in an extremely good goalscoring position because an opponent was on the ground. He was also ill perceived due to his professed allegiance to Fascism.
Despite his notable performances in England, Di Canio never received a call-up to the Azzurri of Italy for a number of reasons, chief of which was his eccentric behavior, as well as the fact that he was unfortunate to be competing against players like Francesco Totti, Christian Vieri, Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Del Piero among others.