England's best players who missed out on playing in major tournaments including Le Tissier, Merson and Gazza | The Sun

ENGLAND managers have often been left with some big selection decisions before major tournaments.

There is often an eyebrow or two raised when the squad is finally announced ahead of a World Cup or European Championships.

Last year it was Jesse Lingard who missed out on making Gareth Southgate's final 26-man squad for Euro 2020, and it appears Marcus Rashford, Fikayo Tomori, Jarrod Bowen, James Ward-Prowse, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jadon Sancho are skating on thin ice ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.

Here's seven more stars that could've counted themselves unlucky at the time to miss out.


In 2012, aged 33, it's fair to say Rio was past the peak of his powers.

However, he did still offer a wise and experienced head at the back, and had come off a decent season for Manchester United.

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But Ferdinand was left "gutted" to have been left out of England's Euro 2012 squad.

Manager Roy Hodgson explained the decision was made for footballing reasons, but Ferdinand's omission did avoid any potential conflict with the selected John Terry, who months later faced allegations in court that he racially abused Rio's brother, Anton.

"I admire Rio Ferdinand as a player," Hodgson explained. "I think he's a fine footballer and I respect him, but I had to pick a squad with defenders I wanted to take to the Euros."

Phil Jones and Joleon Lescott got nods ahead of Ferdinand.

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Ex-England boss Glenn Hoddle once described it as the "saddest thing he ever had to do."

After Gazza was instrumental in helping his country in the qualifiers, he was told he wouldn't be going to France '98.

The hero two years earlier at Euro '96, Gascoigne was given an ultimatum about his fitness. But Hoddle felt he just wasn't up to it.

According to reports, Gazza smashed up Hoddle's hotel room when he was told the news.

The mercurial midfielder was never picked for England again.


Although Merse got the nod ahead of Gazza for France '98, he could count himself unlucky not to have gone to Italia '90.

In fine fine form at Arsenal, and only 22, the 'Magic Man' won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award in 1989.

But Bobby Robson only picked three forwards for the World Cup, with the striking positions being taken by Gary Lineker, Peter Beardsley and Steve Bull.

Nine midfielders were selected, including a relatively unknown Gazza and Bryan Robson, who struggled with injury and missed the majority of the competition.


Arguably the most talented footballer of his generation, it's criminal Matt Le Tissier didn't get the international recognition he deserved.

Possibly because he played for an unfashionable club in Southampton at the time – that might've been why he was overlooked.

But the Saints legend only managed eight caps in his career, despite scoring 209 goals for his club.

Had England qualified for the 1994 World Cup, he might've had a chance of being selected.

He was also overlooked for the 1998 World Cup, even after impressing in an England B game against Russia – scoring a hat-trick.


Experience, perhaps, wasn't on Mr Arsenal's side when Bobby Robson was selecting his Italia '90 squad.

And the formation wouldn't have been to the Gunners legend's strengths – playing in a back three, when he was used to a flat back four in North London.

Adams' spot went to Mark Wright, a more cultured sweeper who could bring the ball out of defence better than his counterpart.

At Euro '92, Martin Keown and Des Walker were the preferred two. However, Adams was restored to the first team before Euro '96, where he had an outstanding tournament.


In 2014, it was a close call in the striking positions for a partner for Wayne Rooney.

In fairness to Roy Hodgson, Jermain Defoe didn't do himself any favours by moving to the MLS to play for Toronto months before the squad was decided.

Rickie Lambert, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge were picked instead, leaving Defoe devastated.

"I don't think I'll ever be at peace [with the decision]," the striker said at the time.


Good enough for Real Madrid, but not for England.

Winger Laurie Cunningham, whose life was tragically cut short at 33 in a car crash, joined Los Blancos after starring at West Brom for £950,000 in 1979.

In doing so, he became the first British footballer to move to the LaLiga giants.

However, Ron Greenwood completely snubbed him from his Euro 1980 squad.

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The following season, Cunningham made the squad for the qualifiers, after bitter negotiations with Real Madrid.

But after appearing as a sub in a 2-1 defeat to Romania, he would never wear an England jersey again.

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