Playing in the Premier League today often comes with an international call-up. Or you’re already an international superstar before you sign for a top flight club. However, in the early years of the competition, when the majority of teams were made up of Englishmen, there was simply too much competition for some players to get an international call up.
This list contains the top 10 appearance makers in the Premier League to have never represented their country at senior level:
Sylvain Distin (469 appearances)
The French centre-back’s Premier League career spanned 15 years and five different clubs, finishing in the top half on nine occasions and only relegated once. Sylvain Distin’s career in England began during the 2001-02 season with a loan move to Newcastle United from Paris Saint-Germain before he ended up signing with Manchester City after the season (this was long before City had the shortest odds on being the Premier League winner). He was a regular for each of his first 13 seasons in England and was part of the Portsmouth side that won the FA Cup in 2008. Despite making 469 Premier League appearances in all, Distin never played for France at any level.
Kevin Nolan (401 appearances)
Starting out as a youngster at Bolton Wanderers in Division One, Kevin Nolan ended up spending 13 seasons in the Premier League, which included gaining promotions to the top flight with Bolton, Newcastle United and West Ham United. He chipped in with a number of Premier League goals from midfield during his day but never got a chance to pull on an England shirt at senior level. Nolan twice represented the England under-21s. The 35-year-old is currently player-manager at League Two promotion contenders Notts County.
Chris Perry (363 appearances)
Having grown up nearby Plough Lane, Chris Perry signed on as a youngster at Wimbledon before making his Premier League debut with the club days before his 21st birthday in 1994. He remained a regular for the Dons up until a then club record £4 million move to Tottenham Hotspur in 1999. Sir Alex Ferguson once predicted Chris Perry would go to play for England but it never happened. Perhaps we should be wary next time the legendary manager makes predictions on the Premier League winner too. Perry would later go on to play for Charlton Athletic in the Premier League, but despite 363 appearances in the competition, an England manager never came calling.
Steve Watson (351 appearances)
Coming through the youth ranks at Newcastle United, Steve Watson made his debut for the club as a 16-year-old in the second tier before helping them to promotion to the Premier League during the 1992-93 season. For the next four years he would be a regular in the Newcastle team under Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish, before Ruud Gullit would sell him to Aston Villa. Watson would go on to play for Everton and West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League as well, and despite making 351 appearances in the English top flight, he never received an invitation to play for the national team.
Steed Malbranque (336 appearances)
The second French player in our list and the only other non-Englishman to make the top 10, Steed Malbranque was a technically-gifted midfielder who first made his name in English football and the Premier League with Fulham. Malbranque joined the Cottagers for their inaugural top flight campaign in 2001-02 and spent five years at Craven Cottage before earning a move to Tottenham Hotspur. Although his time at White Hart Lane was short, the Belgian-born former-French under-21 finished his Premier League career with Sunderland before returning to France. Steed Malbranque did get two call-ups to the French national team but never entered the playing field on either occasion.
Jason Dodd (329 appearances)
The right-back joined Southampton from Bath City in 1989 and remained with the South coast club until 2005 before finishing his playing career in the lower leagues. Jason Dodd notched up 329 Premier League appearances in all for the Saints, as well as playing in lower divisions for them, but fell far short of displacing the likes of Gary Neville and Lee Dixon as the England right-back.
Kevin Campbell (325 appearances)
In at number seven is Kevin Campbell – the player who has scored the most goals in Premier League history without getting a senior international call up. A product of the Arsenal youth academy, Campbell made 97 Premier League appearances for the Gunners before also playing in the top flight for Nottingham Forest, Everton and West Bromwich Albion. He is the last player to date to score a winner for Everton at Anfield. However, he played during an era where England were loaded with talented strikers and so Kevin Campbell never got his chance to put on the national team’s shirt.
Matthew Taylor (325 appearances)
A Luton Town youth academy product, Matthew Taylor left the third division side for Portsmouth in the summer of 2002 and gained promotion to the Premier League in his first season under Harry Redknapp. The left-sided midfielder scored a couple of long range goals for Pompey and also represented Bolton Wanderers, West Ham United and Burnley in the top flight but never got a chance to pull on the England jersey. Now 36 years old he is currently plying his trade in League Two with Swindon Town.
Peter Atherton (318 appearances)
Starting his career in the lower leagues with local club Wigan Athletic, Peter Atherton earned a transfer to top flight side Coventry City in 1991, before the Premier League was even formed. The defender made most of his top flight appearances with Sheffield Wednesday before spending his final campaign with Bradford City for whom he experienced two relegations with.
Alan Wright (305 appearances)
The short left-back was part of the Blackburn Rovers squad that won the Premier League in 1994-95 but it was club teammate Graeme Le Saux who was playing for England instead. The majority of Alan Wright’s Premier League career was spent with Aston Villa before he became a journeyman in the lower leagues.