Rice reminds us how long it has been since we had our own lion

West Ham have contributed many players to England but not many recently

What does Declan Rice have in common with Paul Goddard? 

It’s not just that they both have a West Ham United connection, or that they both played for England. 

And it’s not that they both scored for England, but they both scored for England against Iceland whilst registered as West Ham players. 

Poor old “Sarge” only won one cap, and that as a substitute against Iceland in a friendly in Reykjavik in 1982 – and you would have thought that scoring, and having Ron Greenwood as manager might have resulted in more opportunities for him. But it wasn’t to be. 

Seeing Rice play for England made me think about all those players that have represented the Three Lions during my 45-year tenure as a fan. There are plenty, but like Goddard and Rice, fortunes have been mixed.

How do you feel about West Ham players being called up to play for England? It used to make me feel excited and proud, a little bit nervous in case they let anyone down. 

Now however, it’s just the latter, coupled with extreme worry that they will come back injured.

The main reason for that worry is Dean Ashton. Called up in 2006 after his impressive start to his West Ham career, he suffered a heavy tackle from Shaun Wright-Phillips in training the day before the friendly against Greece. 

His ankle was broken and so began the end of his career. He did eventually get his cap, two years later in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago – but his career was almost at an end by that point. 

A tragic waste and one that could have been avoided – but would you deny a player their chance to play for their country because of the risks involved? Probably not.

With fewer and fewer English players not just in our squad but in every other squad in the Premier League, and with more and more internationals played you would think that West Ham’s English contingent would get a fairer crack of the whip – or – are they simply not good enough? 

In the last 10 years, since Dean Ashton we’ve had just nine players represent England whilst registered with us and of those nine, four were already capped when they came to the club: Matthew Upson, Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll and Joe Hart. 

Of the remaining five only Robert Green with 11 caps, and Declan Rice, currently on 13, have got into double figures. The other three players to represent England whilst registered with us were Carlton Cole (7) Scott Parker (3) and Aaron Cresswell (3)

Paul Goddard also has something in common with a number of other West Ham players in that he only received one cap during his time at the club. 

The others include Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll, the aforementioned Ashton, Kieron Dyer (I can’t believe he was fit long enough to even get one – can you believe he won 33 caps in total?) and Paul Konchesky. 

I think that tells you everything you need to know about how successive England managers have viewed West Ham players over the years.

Matthew Upson was the last West Ham player to score a goal for England, in our 1-4 defeat to Germany in the 2010 World Cup Finals.

Ten years between goals by West Ham players really isn’t good enough given our pedigree, but as I’ve said before, times have changed. 

We’ve had plenty of ex-West Ham players in the England team, you can reel them off – Cole, Carrick, Rio, Lampard, Defoe, Johnson, etc. 

But when they play for us they are largely ignored. The last West Ham player to score for England before Upson? You have to go back a further seven years to June 2003 and a friendly against Serbia & Montenegro and a certain Joseph John Cole coming on as a substitute to score the first of his 10 England goals in a 2-1 win. 

Last player before that? Paul Goddard in Iceland.

Researching this article I noticed one thing. Previous West Ham scorers mentioned above for England were all away from Wembley, with Joe Cole’s effort although at home, coming at Leicester while Wembley was under reconstruction. 

The last West Ham player to score at Wembley before Declan? 16 November 1977 – England 2 Italy 0 – Trevor Brooking. 43 years and 2 days before Declan’s effort.

I say long may Hammers continue to keep a low profile. I don’t want another injury like Dean Ashton received, or after an orchestrated campaign to get Robert Green into the team, a disaster like he served up in the opening game of the World Cup in 2010. 

That said of course, England will never win anything again without three Hammers in the team.

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