The England team have an excellent disciplinary record. Only ten players have seen red since 1966 – eleven red cards altogether, as David Beckham now has two in his trophy cabinet to put alongside his 107 caps.
It’s a tiny sample, so these are only “fun” stats.
- Of eleven red cards, seven have gone to men who have played for Manchester United: Beckham (2), Rooney, Scholes, Ince, Alan Smith and Ray Wilkins.
- Managers Alf Ramsey, Glenn Hoddle and Kevin Keegan each led England to two red cards apiece.
- Sven Goran Ericksson is the red card champ, with three.
- Only Trevor Cherry managed to get sent off during a friendly..
What was the most significant sending-off in English international history? Of course, David Beckham’s first red against the Argentines in 1998 springs to mind. England were more than matching their opponents at that stage, and had improved with every game. Hoddle had prepared them superbly, and it was all going so well, until…
Then there’s Rooney’s against Portugal. England’s successive defeats against Portugal were unfortunate to say the least. Ericksson’s England were the better side each time. Portugal were limited and hesitant, and should have been put away long before Rooney absented the scene (injured in 2004, harshly dismissed in 2006).
Scolari rode his luck to the point of exhaustion, and at Chelsea his limits are showing. Where are the bold substitutions, where his smart handling of “primadonnas” now? Hindsight is being kind to Ericksson, and at Manchester City too.
England should have won Euro 2004. But Rooney’s 2006 dismissal surely didn’t lose England the World Cup. That went with his injury earlier in the year, and Owen’s, and Beckham’s, and Nevilles: the Ericksson pre-tournament ill luck. England had played as well as anyone in patches, but overall had the dreadful stretched look of exhausted men.
So the most significant England sending off is the first one. Because the competition is so different now, it’s forgotten that England, as World Champions, made it to the semi-final of the 1968 European Championship. There they faced Yugoslavia. It was a tight and brutal game, goalless: with ten minutes to go, both that match and the other semi-final were still tied.
Then Alan Mullery retaliated after yet another bad Yugoslav tackle. Seven minutes to play. A high cross: Moore misses the header. Five minutes to play. Then, England beginning to flag, disaster. Yugoslav captain Dzajic snatched the winner.
Russia and Italy had to be separated by the toss of a coin. Italy went through, relieved not to be meeting England, their bogey team, in a Final they would be playing in Rome. England would beat Russia handily in the third place match.
Under Capello, England have suffered only five yellow cards, to five different players, in ten games. Three of those cardwinners played in the 5-1 Munich victory over Germany seven years previously, and two of them scored. Make of that what you will.