It's 20 years to the day since a Premier League club last selected an all-English XI

Aston Villa fielded an all-English side against Coventry City in 1999, and it hasn’t happened since.

Ex- Aston Villa manager John Gregory, the last boss to name an all-English XI in the Premier League.
Ex- Aston Villa manager John Gregory, the last boss to name an all-English XI in the Premier League.

DO YOU REMEMBER when Aston Villa hosted Coventry City on 27 February, 1999?

Unless you’re a fan of either club — or have an eidetic memory — it is unlikely to be a game you can recall.

On the day, Coventry ran out 4-1 winners at Villa Park thanks to two goals apiece from John Aloisi and George Boateng.

However, the result is not the reason why the fixture is of significant interest. Instead, it is the team selected by Villa boss John Gregory, as he fielded a starting XI made up entirely of English players. 

Here’s the line-up:

Michael Oakes, Steve Watson, Gareth Southgate, Dion Dublin, Simon Grayson, Riccardo Scimeca, Alan Wright, Lee Hendrie, Paul Merson, Ian Taylor, Julian Joachim. 

It was the 55th time an all-English team had been named in the Premier League – but it has not happened in the 20 years since then. 

What are they
really like?

Rare insights on sport's biggest names from the writers who know them best. Listen to Behind the Lines podcast.

Become a Member

Grayson tackled by Telfer Aston Villa's Simon Grayson is tackled by Paul Telfer of Coventry City on 27 February, 1999. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

To mark the anniversary of the last full English team seen in the Premier League, here are some facts — courtesy of Opta — for you to digest.

  • Gregory did not stop at picking 11 Englishmen in the game – he also used three subs from the same country. Mark Draper, Gareth Barry and Stan Collymore all came on for Villa, who found the net courtesy of a penalty from Dublin in the 55th minute (which made the score 2-1). 
  • The 1998-99 season was the first in the Premier League where the percentage of English players used in the competition dropped below 50 (48.2%). 
  • There has never been a Premier League match in which all 22 players who started were English. QPR and Newcastle United came close in January 1994, combining to select 21 between them. The only non-Englishman involved that day was Tony Roberts, QPR’s Welsh goalkeeper. 
  • Gregory named teams containing 10 Englishmen on 10 occasions after that Coventry fixture. The only other two clubs to hit that number since are West Ham, against Tottenham in March 2003 (Czech Tomas Repka was the odd man out), and Middlesbrough, who fielded Scotsman James Morrison against Fulham, in May 2006. 
  • Aston Villa have named the most all-English starting XIs in Premier League history (19). Newcastle United (14) are second, while other clubs to do so are Arsenal (5), Coventry (4), Leicester City (3), Oldham Athletic (3), Sheffield Wednesday (2), Tottenham Hotspur (2), Norwich City (1), Leeds United (1) and Southampton (1). 
  • Just 238 days after losing to Coventry, Villa were involved in the first Premier League fixture to see no Englishmen selected in a starting line-up. Wimbledon were their opponents, with Norwegian boss Egil Olsen including players from the following countries: Jamaica (3), Scotland (2), Wales (2), plus one each from Guyana, Iceland, Norway and the Republic of Ireland. 
  • Of the five English managers to name teams in the Premier League era that did not include a fellow countryman, three have also taken charge of the Three Lions. Kevin Keegan, who went without an English player in an XI once, back in November 2002, was the first. He was followed by: Sam Allardyce (six times) and Steve McClaren (four times). Brian McDermott (once) and Alan Pardew (five times) complete the quintet. 
  • Arsenal have selected the most line-ups in the competition with no Englishmen – and it is not even close. It has occurred for the Gunners on 173 occasions, putting them well clear of second-placed Wigan Athletic (42). Manchester United, in contrast, have only done it once — it was in a derby fixture against Manchester City in 2009, though Alex Ferguson did send on English duo Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes as substitutes in a 2-0 win. 

– Omni

Subscribe to our new podcast, The42 Rugby Weekly, here:

About the author:

The42 Team

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel