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Zinedine Zidane loved ‘wasted’ Liverpool legend who suffered familiar Trent Alexander-Arnold issue

Trent Alexander-Arnold is the most recent Liverpool star to be overlooked by England, but some of the club’s greats have previously struggled to establish themselves on the international stage.


Trent Alexander-Arnold’s omission from the England squad to face Germany on Monday night has once again sparked debate over Gareth Southgate’s inability to utilise one of the nation’s most promising young talents.


While there is plenty of competition, with Reece James and Kyle Walker often the preferred option – the England boss has previously experimented with the right back in midfield. Over the weekend, Southgate explained why Alexander-Arnold hasn’t been getting minutes in an England shirt and hinted at the battle for places as a key reason.


“I don’t see risks. You can have a style of play and a way of playing, and a balance to the team, that… at Liverpool they find a way of playing that brings the best out of his attributes and that’s what we’re all trying to do with every team,” Southgate told The Mirror. “You’re trying to build a team that accentuates the positives, and within the group protects yourselves against how the opponents might come from you.


He does have a fantastic range of passing, we’re blessed with different profiles of player in that position, if we play with wing-backs, Trippier and Reece James are also exceptional with the ball, in different ways, and we’re always having to look at the full package with everything.”


Alexander-Arnold was handed his England debut under Southgate back in 2018, at just 19 years of age. He’s gone on to make 17 appearances and given he’s only 23, time is certainly on his hands. He’s not the first Liverpool player to be overlooked in an England shirt, however, as others before him have shone in Red, yet struggled on the international stage.


Jamie Carragher

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher spent his entire career at Anfield and made over 700 appearances for the club. He won the Champions League, three League Cups, two FA Cups and one UEFA Cup as a Red – yet only ever made 38 appearances for England.


He was handed his first cap by Kevin Keegan as a 21-year-old back in 1999, but faced stiff competition at centre-back with Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand (81 caps) and former Chelsea star John Terry (78 caps) usually the preferred options.


Speaking in an interview with the Sportsman last year, Carragher opened up on his England ‘regret’, but admitted those ahead of him in the pecking order deserved their place in the team. “My big regret is that England is the only team in my life that I never dominated or I never established myself in,” he said.


Even from going when I first kicked a ball at five years of age from playing for the school, the county, playing for a local amateur team. I was always the best player, and I got the stage at Liverpool and I was vice-captain and seen as one of the top players in my prime there. And England is the only team I never as I said, established myself fully in. That is my one regret really.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think the players who did establish themselves were better centre-backs than me in terms of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, they had the edge on me, I’m not complaining about that. But it is the one thing I look back on and I just think, I’ve got to that final stage with England and just couldn’t really make myself that player who went on to win 70, 80 or 100 caps like some of those players I’ve mentioned.”


Back in 2007, at 29 years of age, the defender considered retiring from international football, citing not being a regular in the team as a key reason for his decision. He did, however, make Fabio Capello’s 2010 World Cup squad following numerous injuries before he quit for good.


The former England international told the ECHO in 2007 : “I’m 29 now, and I have to accept if I’m not a regular starter at this stage of my England career, I don’t think I will ever be. It’s going to be difficult for me to be seen as anything more than a squad player, and that’s not what I’m interested in now “Playing the odd game here and there for England isn’t enough for me anymore. My first priority has always been winning trophies with Liverpool.”


Robbie Fowler

Robbie Fowler was another regular at Anfield, but his England form was far less consistent. The striker made over 360 appearances for Liverpool and scored an impressive 183 goals in all competitions, winning the FA Cup, UEFA Cup and two League Cups.


Fowler made his England debut in 1996, aged 20, under manager Terry Venables. He only registered 26 caps throughout his career, however, most of which were in friendlies. He made just three appearances during a tournament, one at the World Cup in 2002 and two at Euro 1996.


Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand, Andrew Cole and Teddy Sheringham made up the competition in the early stages of Fowler’s England career, while the likes of Michael Owen and Emile Heskey came into the fold later on to further limit his chances. The striker has previously opened up on why his international career never quite hit the same heights as his club career.


“If I’m being totally honest, had I played more games for England I might have a different feeling,” he told Off The Ball back in 2019. “I just never felt part of an England set-up because I never really played. I was a passionate player and I wanted to play all the time.


“Ultimately, because I wasn’t a regular I wanted to get back to Liverpool as soon as possible and play with them. I was comfortable there and knew I was playing.”


The 47-year-old has also identified parallels with his England career and Alexander-Arnold’s following the defender’s previous omissions from the squad, admitting he too never got a proper run in the national team, despite his incredible form at club level. Fowler wrote in his column for The Mirror last year: “I only got 26 caps, which was nowhere near enough, and I always felt I was only there to make up the numbers, not be offered a real chance to play.


“I scored more than 100 goals before I even got my first cap, and never got a proper run in the team. But the thing that chimed with Trent’s experience, is that I don’t think the England managers were always straight with me. What Gareth Southgate says about Alexander-Arnold just doesn’t ring true. Of course, he may have his reasons, but to say he’s been left out because of form can’t be right.


“I had times when I felt the manager didn’t fancy me, was never honest with me, or spoke with me properly to explain where the problem lay, and to give me a chance of putting it right. I never saw eye to eye with Glenn Hoddle or Sven Goran Eriksson, and I think that impacted on my career.


“Look, it happens. You can have an England manager who just doesn’t rate you, who for whatever reason doesn’t want the type of player you are.”


Steve McManaman

Steve McManaman racked up 37 appearances for England during his career, he featured heavily at Euro 96, but made just one World Cup appearance in 1998. At club level, the midfielder featured over 360 times for Liverpool and over 150 times for Real Madrid, winning two Champions League trophies with the La Liga giants.


In May 2002, as McManaman was preparing for a Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen, the Real Madrid star was left out of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England squad for the World Cup. The decision came despite an impressive campaign in Spain, in which the former Red had scored in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.


McManaman admitted at the time he was ‘confused’ by the decision from the England boss, as he told BBC Five Live in 2002: “He (Eriksson) rang when I was out at training and left a brief message on my mobile phone saying I was not in the squad. But I haven’t the slightest idea why. I don’t know.


“I was involved in the last qualifying game against Greece and everyone was happy. People make their own assumptions but it’s very confusing.”


McManaman wasn’t the only person mystified by his omission from England squads, as former Real Madrid teammate Zinedine Zidane criticised the ex-England boss for the midfielder’s omissions ahead of the tournament.


“I was surprised when McManaman was left out of the last England squad. I couldn’t believe they would ignore a player of his quality,” the Frenchman said. “Now people are talking about the fact that maybe he will get his chance because David Beckham is injured.


But McManaman is far better than just being a replacement for Beckham. McManaman should be in the starting line-up anyway. Picking him now would be a very smart move for Eriksson because McManaman is in the mood to start proving people wrong. If Eriksson gave him the chance he deserves, he could prove to all the people and to Eriksson he should have been there all along.


“I don’t think he has really ever had a proper chance under Eriksson but he has proved over the years, for Liverpool, England and Real Madrid, that he is a leading player. If England do not pick him, it would be a terrible waste, both for the side and for McManaman. If they don’t take him to the World Cup, they’ll regret it.”

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