Football

10 players who performed better on International stage than Club

It is no surprise that a player can perform exemplary well on international stage than on the Club stage and vice versa.

There is always this crop of players who produce stellar performances at the Club level but again flop when called upon to represent their nation at various competition.

The ‘Golden Generation’, we’re thinking of you.

Not surprisingly  you see a team of footballers considered cloggers at their clubs come together and excel on the international stage; or an individual who cannot get comfortable in the day-to-day grind of the league season, but who comes to life in jersey of their nation.

The latter group can become heroes to their compatriots while going through relatively mediocre careers elsewhere – and we love them all the more for it.

We have looked into players analytics and brought you this exclusive of 10 players who have or had proved their Club managers wrong on International stage.

1. Jesse Lingard

The English man has not gotten the opportunity of starting more than 20 games in an entire league season, he has often found himself sidelined by more expensively recruited players at Manchester United.

Yet for England, he always performs and usually does so with a great big grin on his face, endearing him to Three Lions fans even more.

As Gareth Southgate’s side reached the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup, he was haring around everywhere, covering more ground than any other England player and recording the highest speed of any central midfielder at the tournament.

Since then, he has struggled to get in the squad, but when called upon for the pre-Euro 2020 friendlies and the September 2021 World Cup qualifier against Andorra, he was brilliant, scoring two goals in the latter.

Lingard has been reportedly rejected Man United contract citing playing time according to the mirror.

2. Eduardo Vargas

Can you remember any of Vargas’ performances in a QPR shirt? How about for Napoli? Hoffenheim? Right, we’re scraping the barrel now. Anyway, you get the point.

Vargas never did it in Europe, but he was always the perfect fit as the mobile Centre-forward in the wildly entertaining Chile teams of Marcelo Bielsa and Jorge Sampaoli, and he has won two Copas America with La Roja. He’s still going too, now aged 31 and playing alongside Blackburn forward Ben Brereton.

3. Joel Campbell

Joel Campbell was an Arsenal player for seven years, taken out on loan for six times before moving to Frosinone in Italy and then Liga MX with Leon.

Campbell a solid player of his statue has never reproduced the form and drive that he shows for Costa Rica at Club level though. And at the age of 29, Campbell already has over 100 caps and he played an important role that helped a brilliant side surprise everyone to reach the last eight of the World Cup in 2014.

4. Asamoah Gyan

Gyan’s Ghana career will forever be associated with missing that penalty in the 2010 World Cup quarter-final after Luiz Suarez handballed Dominic Adiyiah’s header on the line. Given the importance of the game, it’s unavoidable.

But his Black Stars shouldn’t only be associated with that missed spot-kick.

Free transfer Asamoah Gyan chased by Premier League clubs - AS.com

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Gyan was much better for his nation than he was for any of Udinese, Rennes or Sunderland, notching 51 goals in 103 caps between 2003 and 2019, playing in three consecutive World Cups and becoming the leading African goal-scorer at World Cup finals tournaments.

5. Stern John

Stern John was decent in England. A 12-goal-a-season man in the Championship.

But from watching him play for Nottingham Forest, Birmingham, Coventry or any of his other many clubs, you’d never guess that he’s nineteenth on the list of all-time international goal-scorers.

But nineteenth he is.

His 70 goals in 115 Trinidad and Tobago caps put him above Gerd Muller, Didier Drogba, Ronaldo Fenomeno and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in that respect.

Eight came in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, helping the Soca Warriors onto the biggest stage for the only time in their history.

6. Paulinho

Paulinho has disappeared from most people’s radars since his move to China in 2015  save for that weird one-season stint at Barcelona.

But he has been brilliant for Brazil in two separate bursts, winning 56 caps and scoring 13 times.

He won the Confederations Cup with Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side in 2013 but was one of many burned by the disastrous 7-1 a year later and was dropped from the team.

After Tite took over as boss in 2016, however, he recalled Paulinho to groans of despair in Brazil.

Still, Paulinho more than justified Tite’s faith, becoming the Selecao’s key midfielder as they romped to qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

The highlight of that campaign was a 4-1 away win against Uruguay in Montevideo, in which Paulinho got a spectacular hat-trick.

 

7. Sergio Romero

So contrasting are Sergio Romero’s fortunes for club and country, you could almost believe his career was two different people involved in some weird, long-running act of performance art.

A decade as Argentina No.1 saw him earn a whopping 96 caps. Yet for his clubs he was consistently overlooked, spending the years between 2013 and 2021 as back-up ‘keeper at Monaco, Sampdoria and finally Manchester United.

8. Lukas Podolski

Podolski was an idol at FC Koln. But being an idol at Koln doesn’t mean you’ve had a stellar club career. And neither do relatively average spells at Bayern Munich and Arsenal, even if you score a few crackers along the way.

But 49 goals in 130 Germany caps and a World Cup winner’s medal? That’s special.

 

9. David Healy

After graduating from the Manchester United academy – making just one appearance for the first team – David Healy had a career that very much falls into the category of ‘solid but unspectacular’ in British club football.

He did well at Preston but was regularly played out of position at Leeds and his latter spells at Sunderland, Rangers and Bury were eminently forgettable. Never did he get more than 15 goals in a Championship season.

For Northern Ireland, though, Healy was a colossus. He overtook his nation’s previous record goal-scorers Billy Gillespie and Colin Clarke within five years of his international debut and went on to rack up a magnificent 36 goals in 95 caps.

In the ultimately unsuccessful qualifying campaign for Euro 2008, Healy scored 11 in 13 games, at that point making him the record goal-scorer in a single qualifying campaign.

Highlights of that glittering international career include a winning goal against England in 2005 and an unforgettable hat-trick against Spain the following year.

10. Granit Xhaka

Despite all of his very well-documented Arsenal travails, Xhaka shone at Euro 2020 as Switzerland progressed to the quarter-finals, only succumbing to Spain on penalties – a game which Xhaka sat out, predictably suspended for getting one too many yellow cards.

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka 'declined vaccine' before testing positive for Covid-19 | Sport | The Times

Photo/Courtesy

In the round-of-16 epic against France, though, Xhaka was the best midfielder on the pitch when Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante were expected to dominate. For that alone, he deserves to be on this list.

 

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