Rarest of the rare: The only four outfield players from the second division who won an England call-up this century

Mason Mount England

Up and coming Derby County midfielder Mason Mount was recently called up to the England national team as a reward for his scintillating efforts in the Championship, the second tier of English football pyramid. It’s a tremendous feat for the 19-year-old as it is not often that players plying their trade outside the top flight get a look into the national team set up.

In fact, Mount is only the fourth outfield player from outside the top division to receive an England call-up in the 21st century! FOX Sports Asia takes a look at all four of them and how they managed to grab the eyeballs of the England managers despite operating in the less illustrious league.

4. DAVID NUGENT (2007, Preston North End) 

They might be just four in number, but Derby County have two of them at the moment. And it’s Mount’s teammate David Nugent who achieved the feat first this century. The now 33-year-old striker won his one and only England cap as a Preston North End player in the second tier in March 2007 after being called up as a replacement for the injured Darren Bent.

Making the most out of the opportunity, Nugent stole a goal — the final in a 3-0 rout of Andorra in the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifiers at Barcelona — to come away with a record of one goal per game for England! The forward became the first Preston player to play for England since the legendary Sir Tom Finney in 1959 and also the first outfield player from outside the top flight for England since Michael Gray in 1999.

Nugent was on 16 goals for Preston that time of the season and that, coupled with a good run with the England U21s, convinced Steve McClaren to call up the youngster. However, he didn’t win any cap after it and his 11-minute England career holds the distinction of being the shortest of any player who has scored for the Three Lions.

3. JAY BOTHROYD (2010, Cardiff City)

Bothroyd has written his name into the history books in ways more than one. He not only represented England from outside the Premier League but also became Cardiff City’s first England international in 111-year history when he came off the bench in the Three Lions’ 2-1 defeat at the hands of France in a friendly at the Wembley on November 17.

Fabio Capello was forced to turn to the Cardiff striker, who was scoring for fun in the second division, after injuries to the likes of Manchester United attacker Wayne Rooney, Tottenham Hotspurs’ Jermain Defoe, Sunderland’s Darren Bent and Fulham’s Bobby Zamora significantly reduced his options up front.

But the substitute appearance was the high point for the Arsenal youth product as his career has been on a downward spiral since. He joined Thai League 1 club Muangthong United in 2017 scoring six goals in 16 appearances before moving to Japanese J1 League with Jubilo Iwata and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo where he has rediscovered his scoring touch.

2. WILFRIED ZAHA (2012, Crystal Palace)

Zaha was handed his England debut by Roy Hodgson as an 83rd-minute substitute in a friendly against Sweden on November 14, 2012, while he was with Palace in the Championship. He would once again feature for England in a friendly against Scotland the following year, but that would be his last international fixture in the England white.

With chances coming far and few between with England, Zaha decided to change his allegiance to Ivory Coast, his country of birth. Though England manager Gareth Southgate tried to dissuade him from switching national teams, the winger could not be persuaded. He went on to feature for the Elephants in the 2017 African Cup of Nations and has eight caps for the African nation till date.

Hodgson later revealed his regret of not tying down Zaha to England stating: “I gave him his international debut as a Crystal Palace player, he got a big move to Manchester United so we didn’t follow up on it enough. I would have to say I bear some responsibility there. To be honest he’d have been more than happy to play for England. I think he was just seduced by the Ivory Coast and part of the seduction was ‘you won’t play a lot of games for England, so sign for us instead’.”

1.  MASON MOUNT (2018, Derby County)

Teenage midfielder Mount is the latest addition to this list though he is still to debut for the Three Lions. He was an unused sub in England’s 3-2 win over Spain in the UEFA Nations League the other night but definitely has a bright future ahead. The 19-year-old has amassed around 40 appearances for various England youth national teams so far and looks set to repeat the same with the senior squad.

The 19-year-old, who wore the colours of Vitesse Arnhem last season, has been directly involved in 17 goals (10 goals and seven assists) in his past 18 league appearances across the Dutch Eredivisie and the Championship, including playoff games.

On loan at the Championship side this season from his parent club Chelsea whom he joined at the age of six, Mount dreams of emulating former England international midfielder Frank Lampard one day — and what better way to try and do so than by learning from the man himself who is currently managing the youngster in the English second division.