A total of 1,244 players have earned at least one cap for the England men’s international football team. However, only nine have reached 100 or more. Elephant Sport takes a look back of the careers of those history makers.
Peter Shilton – 125 caps
England’s record appearance maker, the goalkeeper made his debut in a 3-1 victory over East Germany in November 1970. He spent two years as understudy to arguably England’s greatest ever shot-stopper, Gordon Banks, before the World Cup winner lost his sight in one eye following a car crash in 1972.
England failed to qualify for either the 1974 or 1978 World Cups, so it was not until 1982 in Spain when Shilton made his debut in the Finals, playing every game as the Three Lions remained unbeaten but were knocked out in the second round.
He started every match in both Mexico 86 and Italia 90, helping England reach the quarter-finals in Mexico, where they lost to Argentina, before finishing fourth in Italy following a semi-final loss on penalties to Germany.
Of Shilton’s 125 caps, 17 of those came during his three World Cup appearances, while three came in European Championships. He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Wayne Rooney – 120 caps
England’s most-capped outfield player, the former Manchester United and Everton forward is also his country’s leading goalscorer with 53, ahead of Sir Bobby Charlton in scored on 49.
His international debut came as a second-half substitute in a 3-1 loss to Australia, and he later became the youngest England goalscorer at 17 years and 317 days in a 2-1 win over Macedonia.
It was Euro 2004 when Rooney truly burst onto the international stage. He scored four goals and was named in Uefa’s team of the tournament. Were it not for an injury suffered during England’s quarter-final loss to hosts Portugal, many pundits believed he could have led his country to glory.
He struggled, however, at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, failing to score in either and was sent-off during England’s quarter-final defeat to Portugal in ’06. His World Cup record overall is disappointing, with just one goal – against Uruguay in 2014 – from his 11 appearances.
He has a much better record in European Championships, netting six in his 10 appearances in the tournament. He was appointed England captain by manager Roy Hodgson in 2014.
Rooney’s record-breaking goal came from the penalty spot at Wembley in a qualifier against Switzerland in September 2015, and he retired from international football in August 2017, before returning for a farewell match against the USA in November 2018.
David Beckham – 115 caps
Perhaps England’s most famous player worldwide, Beckham made his debut in a 3-0 victory over Moldova in September 1996. He was picked for the 1998 World Cup in France and scored his first England goal in their final group match against Colombia, which the Three Lions won 2-0.
However, he was infamously sent-off in their last-16 clash with Argentina, after kicking out at Diego Simeone. England went on to lose the match on penalties.
Beckham featured in all three of England’s Euro 2000 games as they crashed out in the group stage, but scored perhaps the most famous of his 17 goals for his country a year later. With England needing a point to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, they trailed 2-1 to Greece before Beckham scored a sensational free-kick in stoppage time to secure their ticket to the finals.
He scored the winner in a group-stage victory over Argentina at the tournament, before they were knocked out by eventual champions Brazil in the quarter-finals. He had been appointed captain by then-caretaker boss Peter Taylor towards the end of 2000.
Beckham played a star role in England’s Euro 2004 campaign, before scoring once in his final international tournament as England exited the 2006 World Cup at the quarter-final stage. He played his final England match in October 2009 against Belarus, before injury ruled him out of the upcoming World Cup. Of Beckham’s 115 caps, 20 came at major tournaments.
Steven Gerrard – 114 caps
A key figure in England’s “Golden Generation”, his debut came in May 2000, a 2-0 victory over Ukraine, and he was included in their Euro 2000 squad, making a solitary substitute appearance.
The first of his 21 international goals came in England’s famous 2001 qualifying victory over Germany, a 5-1 thrashing in Munich. After missing out on the 2002 World Cup squad, Gerrard started every game at Euro 2004, scoring once.
The Liverpool legend was England’s top scorer at the 2006 World Cup, scoring twice in five matches, but did miss his penalty in England’s shootout loss to Portugal. After failing to qualify for Euro 2008, his next tournament appearance came in the 2010 World Cup. Gerrard scored in England’s opening group-stage draw with the USA as they went on to crash out to Germany in the last 16.
Gerrard was named captain by Roy Hodgson ahead of Euro 2012, where the midfielder excelled, being named in the team of the tournament despite England losing on penalties to Italy in the last eight.
His England career ended in bitter disappointment, as the Three Lions were eliminated from the 2014 World Cup at the group stage, with Gerrard’s final cap coming in a dead rubber against Costa Rica. He played 21 times overall in major tournaments for England, scoring four goals.
Bobby Moore – 108 caps
An icon of English sport, Moore captained England to their only World Cup victory in 1966. His debut came in a 7-1 win over Israel in September 1961, and the central defender started every game at the back for his country in the 1962 World Cup, where they were beaten by Brazil in the quarters.
It was 1966 where Moore made his name, playing every minute as he led his country to World Cup glory on home soil. After beginning the tournament with a goalless draw against Uruguay, England beat Mexico and France before victory over Argentina in the quarter-finals.
A 2-1 semi-final win against Portugal was followed by England’s most famous match; a 4-2 extra-time win over Germany to seal World Cup glory. Moore was even able to provide an assist alongside his defensive work to help his country become world champions.
Moore’s final World Cup was in 1970, where they again faced extra-time against the Germans, this time losing 3-2 at the quarter-final stage. Moore managed two goals during his international career and was in 1994 named in Fifa’s all-time World Cup XI.
Ashley Cole – 107 caps
Regarded by many as England’s greatest ever left-back, Cole’s 107 caps include 22 appearances across five major tournaments. His international debut came in a 3-1 victory against Albania in March 2001, and he went on to start all five games at the 2002 World Cup.
He also started all four of England’s Euro 2004 matches, scoring his penalty in their shootout defeat by Portugal. He played every minute in the 2006 World Cup, this time not taking a penalty as England again lost to Portugal in a shootout. He was again ever-present in both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, but this time missed his spot-kick in England’s 2012 loss to Italy.
Cole earned his 100th cap against Brazil at Wembley in February 2013, helping his country to a 2-1 win. The former Arsenal and Chelsea defender’s last cap came in a friendly defeat to Germany in November later that year, as he was controversially left out of the 2014 World Cup squad by boss Roy Hodgson, prompting him to announce his international retirement. Cole was named England’s Player of the Year in 2010.
Bobby Charlton – 106 caps
The second World Cup winner to earn over 100 caps, the Manchester United legend was handed his debut by boss Walter Winterbottom in 1958, scoring in a 4-0 win against Scotland. He was selected in the squad for the World Cup that year but didn’t play, with his debut in the competition coming four years later; he played every game as England were knocked out by Brazil in the quarters, scoring once.
Charlton played every minute of England’s victorious 1966 campaign, scoring three goals in the process, and registering an assist in the final. He went on to feature in Euro 1968, scoring in England’s third place play-off win against the USSR, before his final World Cup came in 1970, where he featured in every match as England lost to Germany in the quarter-finals.
This match proved to be his last for his country, as he retired at the age of 32. Charlton won many awards during his career, including the Golden Ball at the 1966 World Cup and the Ballon d’Or in that same year. He was named alongside Moore in FIFA’s all-time World Cup team in 1994 and knighted in that same year.
Frank Lampard – 106 caps
Another of England’s famous “Golden Generation”, Lampard was handed his Three Lions debut by Kevin Keegan in October 1999, a 2-1 win against Belgium. He did not play again for England until a friendly against Spain in February 2001, playing 45 minutes of a 3-0 victory.
After failing to be picked for the 2002 World Cup, his first major tournament came at Euro 2004, where he impressed, scoring three goals. He also converted his penalty in England’s shootout defeat by Portugal and was named in the team of the tournament.
The Chelsea legend played every minute of England’s 2006 World Cup campaign, seeing his penalty saved as the Three Lions crashed out once again to Portugal on spot-kicks.
After England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008, his next major tournament came in South Africa, where he started every match. He was involved in arguably one of the most controversial moments in the history of the tournament, when with England trailing 2-1 to Germany in their last 16 clash, his shot from distance hit the bar and bounced over the line, but was not spotted by the linesman. With no goal-line technology, it wasn’t given, and Lampard’s side went on to lose 4-1.
A thigh injury ruled him out of Euro 2012, and he returned to major tournament action in 2014, which proved to be a very unsatisfactory end to what had been a fantastic international career.
He was forced to watch from the sidelines as Roy Hodgson’s men lost their first two group games, returning to captain his country in their final match, a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica. He announced his retirement following the game. Overall, Lampard scored 29 goals in his 106 games, 14 of those coming in major tournaments.
Billy Wright – 105 caps
Wright featured in an era when England played fewer games, so to reach 100-plus caps is quite an achievement.
The centre-back spent his entire career at Wolves, making 490 appearances for the club, and went on to manage Arsenal for four years.
His international debut came against Belgium in January 1946, England’s third game since the war and one of several ‘Victory Internationals’.
He was the first footballer to earn 100 caps for his country, and he never received a yellow or red card throughout his long Three Lions career.
Wright also scored three goals, and captained England a record 90 times, including at the 1950, 1954 and 1958 World Cup finals. His retired in 1958 following a 5-0 victory over the USSR. In 1957, he was the Ballon d’Or runner-up and was inducted into the England Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Featured image by Rogelio A. Galaviz C. via flickr.com
Wayne Rooney photo by Rogelio A. Galaviz C. via flickr.com
Steven Gerrard photo by http://football.ua/galleries/ for Wikimedia Commons
Frank Lampard photo by BikeMike for Wikimedia Commons