Tuesday afternoon was rocked by the breaking news that Fulham’s very own Marcus Bettinelli had been handed the privilege of a senior England call-up after showcasing his promise on the Premier League stage before the international break, a remarkable revelation that flabbergasted us all. That penalty save, aye?
Being a former England U21 international, ‘Betts’ is not stranger to St. George’s Park. If Gareth Southgate is to gift the 26-year-old an opportunity to stamp his mark upon the Three Lions camp, and if he’s to retain his starting place in Slavisa Jokanovic’s matchday fold, the dependable ‘keeper could seal himself a regular spot amongst the country’s elite for a very long time indeed.
It’s not often that a servant of our club is honoured with the privilege of representing the Three Lions, and whilst you could probably count the relevant individuals with one hand, here’s a little reminder of who had also been previously drafted into the national fold for the first time whilst battling on a weekly basis for FFC.
A shining light in Fulham’s coveted Europa League run, Bobby Zamora was named in Fabio Capello’s England squad in August 2010 alongside Jack Wilshere, Michael Dawson, Kieran Gibbs and Gary Cahill, who had also not been capped at the time.
A friendly match against Hungary awaited the Three Lions, and Zamora, making his international debut at the age 29, came agonisingly close to opening his account with virtually his first touch of the encounter.
Zamora was introduced after the break and disrupted throughout his lively 45 minute cameo, although despite his assertive exploits, the bulldozing hit-man was emphatically denied twice by the trouser-bearing legend himself, a fond cult hero of our own, the unmistakable Gabor Kiraly.
Having shielded the ball from his marker, Zamora unleashed a rasping missile from the edge of the 18-yard box, and though it was destined for the net, Kiraly was equal with a digit-scraping flick over the crossbar. Secondly, a tantalising ball was arced into the penalty area and met by the man himself with a full blooded header, but once again, the veteran stopper clawed danger away after the striker’s viperous effort skipped menacingly off the deck.
Compared to his former teammate, there’s little to cover regarding Jimmy Bullard’s first senior call-up to the England fold, however as the charismatic playmaker was one of the Premier League’s most effective midfielders, being regarded as one of the country’s best was all the dressing room joker deserved.
At the end of August 2008, the straggly-haired maestro was included in Capello’s 2010 World Cup qualification squad for two encounters against Andorra and Croatia in September, although the 30-year-old set-piece specialist never got the chance to showcase his expertise, although the experience would have presumably given him a huge boost in confidence. Not that he needed it, though.
An absolute mountain of a centre-half, Zat Knight graduated through Fulham’s youth system in the summer of 1999 and flourished into an integral linchpin at the heart of our defence, particularly in our first Premier League stint. In 2005 the 25-year-old earned himself a place in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Three Lions corps.
England faced the USMT at Soldier Field in Chicago and at half-time Fulham’s sturdy centre-half was granted the opportunity to make his international bow, as Arsenal’s Sol Campbell suffered a hampering ankle knock in the first 45 minutes. England were 2-0 up at the break, however Landon Donovan pressed England’s rearguard and scored 10 minutes before time to give the United States a glimmer of hope, although proceedings thankfully ended 2-1 to the Swede’s team.
A resolute option at the heart of any defence on his day, Knight started England’s second meeting against Colombia at Giants Stadium on May 31st, a tetchy confrontation against the vibrant South Americans that was crammed with goal mouth action. Michael Owen netted a hat-trick to grant England a 3-2 victory and Knight completed his first and indeed his only full 90 minutes for his nation. At least he can forever boldly boast a 100% winning record though!