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The Best England Debuts of Modern Times

September 07, 2015

- Grant Whittington

Even amidst the riches and glory of the Premier League, pulling on that crisp, white England shirt is still the greatest honour that a player can achieve. While history will tell the story of one-cap wonders and disastrous England debuts, however, there are a select few individuals who have shone in their first appearance for the Three Lions. The international stage is one that appeals to many talents, depending on their temperament, style of play and ultimate level of ability.

The Best 3 England Debuts of Modern Times

So, let’s take a look at three of the best England debuts of modern times and whether they were the beginning of stellar careers:  –

Dennis Wise v Turkey, 1981

Sometimes the quality of a debut is defined by impact rather than promise, and this was certainly the case for former Chelsea and Wimbledon midfielder Dennis Wise. This combative and deceptively skilful players made his debut in a must-win European Championship qualifier in Turkey in 1991, and scored the winning goal in a tense, 1-0 win. Despite being lauded for his goal and overall performance, however, Wise went on to win only 20 more caps for England and this proved to be his only successful strike.

Alan Shearer v France, 1992

In some respects, making your England debut at Wembley is even more daunting due to the sheer size of the crowd and the scope of the occasion. Alan Shearer was fortunate that his home debut against France was a friendly, so he could at least perform in a less pressurised environment. And perform he did, scoring one and setting up another as England beat a French team that were in the midst of an impressive unbeaten run. This was the beginning of a career in which Shearer would score 36 England goals, and it would have been more but for serious injury.

Tony Adams v Spain, 1987

In 1987, England enjoyed one of their greatest victories of modern times in a thrilling friendly encounter with Spain. Against a side featuring Zubizarreta, Victor and the brilliant striker Butragueno, England ran out 4-2 winners with Gary Linekar scoring all four goals in 33 devastating minutes. The game was also notable for the outstanding debut of Tony Adams, who despite conceding two goals played with maturity beyond his years and laid the foundation for a wonderful career. Although Adams didn’t always feature regularly for England, he was the Arsenal captain less than a year later and retained that honour for over a decade.

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