By Stephen Byrne
The Fifa World Cup begins in Brazil on 12th June and we will be looking at Rovers’ connections with all participating countries.
The only Rovers player to win a World Cup winner’s medal was Alan Ball. He was an essential cog of England’s victorious 1966 side and joined Rovers in January 1983, scoring twice in 17 League appearances.
Six of the England side – Alan Ball, Jack Charlton, George Cohen, Roger Hunt, Bobby Moore and Ray Wilson – opposed Rovers in League action, whilst Geoff Hurst’s father Charlie Hurst played for Rovers reserves during the 1938-39 season.
Terry Cooper, a Rovers left-back from 1979 and later the club’s player-manager, was in the England side that reached the 1970 World Cup quarter-finals. Four of England’s 1990 semi-final side, Trevor Steven, Peter Shilton, Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley, also played League football against Rovers.
A total of 22 Rovers players have played for England during their careers, Alan Ball (72) and Mick Channon (46) winning the most caps.
The only man to play for England whilst on Rovers’ books was Geoff Bradford, whose sole cap came in the 5-1 win over Denmark in Copenhagen in October 1955. Bradford characteristically scored England’s final goal, after 82 minutes, with a low right-foot shot from Jackie Milburn’s cross pass.
Two former Rovers players are included in the squads for the 2014 World Cup. Rickie Lambert scored 51 goals in 128 League matches for Rovers between 2006 and 2009, whilst Fraser Forster played four times in goal for Rovers in the autumn of 2009.
Four of England’s squad have played against Rovers in the Football League. Fraser Forster was in the Norwich side which won 3-0 at The Mem in May 2010.
Rickie Lambert has scored four goals in four League games for Southampton against Rovers, as well as scoring for both Macclesfield Town and Rochdale against Rovers prior to his arrival at The Mem; he also played in the Saints’ 3-2 FA Cup victory over Rovers in November 2009.
Joe Hart was in goal for both Shrewsbury Town’s League matches against Rovers in the 2005-06 season, Rovers winning 2-1 at home on Boxing Day and losing 1-0 in Shropshire the following March.
Adam Lallana scored once in each of his three League games for Southampton against Rovers between 2009 and 2011; he also played in the FA Cup clash between the sides in November 2009 and for Bournemouth in a Johnstone’s Paint trophy game at The Mem in October 2007.
Daniel Sturridge’s uncle, Simon Sturridge, played in the Birmingham City side which drew 2-2 with Rovers in April 1990. Frank Lampard’s father, Frank Lampard senior, was a full-back for West Ham United in five League encounters with Rovers between 1978 and 1981.
A grand total of seven England managers have played League football against Rovers.
Ron Greenwood was in the Fulham side which lost 5-3 at home to Rovers in November 1955; Bobby Robson scored twice in five games for Fulham against Rovers in the 1950s; Graham Taylor likewise scored once in seven matches for Grimsby Town against Rovers the following decade; both Glenn Hoddle and Peter Taylor scored in Spurs’ 9-0 win against Rovers in October 1977, with Taylor also appearing against the Gas for Southend United and Orient; Howard Wilkinson managed four appearances for Brighton between 1966 and 1971; and Steve McClaren played for Hull City, Derby County and Bristol City against Rovers.
In addition, Don Revie was in the Hull City side that lost an FA Cup-tie 3-0 at Eastville in February 1951. The current England manager, Roy Hodgson, was assistant manager of Bristol City when Rovers won 2-1 at Ashton Gate in April 1982.
Whilst Mike England played for Rovers, Ernie England was in the Mansfield Town side for both their League fixtures against Rovers in the 1931-32 season.