sports gazette

Glen Johnson picked for England: Five other shock international recalls

Published: 3 Oct 2016

In a move that shocked everyone, possibly including the man himself, England interim manager Gareth Southgate has handed right-back Glen Johnson his first international call up since 2014.

With Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne ruled out with injury, a replacement right-back was required but no one would have expected the Stoke City man to make the cut.

Johnson has played just four times this season after returning from a thigh strain, with his first game back being Stoke's 4-1 defeat away to Crystal Palace.

The 32 year old's last game for England was in the Three Lions' 2-1 2014 World Cup group stage defeat to Uruguay where he assisted Wayne Rooney's equaliser.

While Southgate called on Johnson for his experience, some might argue that games against Malta and Slovenia would have been a good opportunity to blood new players such as Joel Ward and Kieran Trippier.

Here are five other international football recalls that surprised fans:

Jay Jay Okocha

Jay Jay Okocha is a Nigerian legend, there is no disputing that. However, fans were still surprised when the midfielder was called out of retirement to represent Nigeria in 2006.

The former Bolton man had only retired earlier in the year after the Super Eagles' third-place finish at the African Cup of Nations.

But injuries caused coach Austin Eguavoen to ask Okocha to come out of retirement for one final game against Niger - though he did not feature.


When a player goes to play in Major League Soccer, it is often seen as preparation for retirement and it was no different when Brazilian midfielder Kaka joined Orlando City in 2014.

At the time of the move, it appeared that Kaka's international career was over as he was left out of squads for the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa America.

However, in August 2015, the Brazilian was rewarded for fine performances in Orlando with a recall to the Selecao for friendlies against Costa Rica and the United States.

Andrea Pirlo

In a game that caught headlines for Luis Suarez's bite on Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Pirlo played what many thought was his final game for Italy.

Pirlo had said beforehand that the 2014 World Cup would be his last tournament for the Azzurri, but along came Antonio Conte to change that.

The now Chelsea manager, who had coached the midfielder at Juventus, recalled Pirlo after an injury to forward Giacomo Bonaventura.

Pirlo went on to play a part in Italy's qualification for Euro 2016, but was left out of the final squad for the tournament due to his move to MLS.

Patrice Evra

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Every European football fan remembers the France debacle of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

When Nicolas Anelka was sent home due to an arguement with manager Raymond Domenech, French captain Patrice Evra led a player protest. This saw the defender stripped of the captaincy and benched for their final game as they failed to make it past the group stages.

Following the competition, Evra was banned for five international matches - though some had called for a permanent ban.

In March 2011 his part in the revolt appeared to have been forgiven, as he was recalled by new manager Laurent Blanc for a Euro 2012 qualifying match against Luxembourg.

Samuel Eto'o

In December 2011, striker Samuel Eto'o was suspended for 15 games by the Cameroon Football Federation for his role in a players' strike.

A friendly match against Algeria was cancelled after players refused to play in a dispute over unpaid bonuses.

Eto'o's ban was later reduced to eight months and in August 2012, the striker was recalled to the Cameroon squad to face Cape Verde in a play-off for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

However, Eto'o refused to play and was only persuaded to turn out for the second leg after an intervention from Cameroon Prime Minister Philemon Yang.

Cameroon lost the tie but Eto'o continued to play for his country, helping them to the 2014 World Cup before retiring in August 2014.

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