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Four Lions and counting

There are more members of the current England squad that play their club football for Chelsea than any other side, with four, but there was a time not so long ago when we regularly contributed even more players to the Three Lions...

Gareth Southgate has clearly been paying attention to the excellent form of the young Englishmen in the Blues team in the early stages of this season, calling up Tammy Abraham, Ross Barkley, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori to his England squad for the European Championship qualifying matches against the Czech Republic on Friday and Bulgaria on Monday.

Given that Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi have both been selected by Southgate in the past and are at varying stages of their return to full fitness after lengthy injury absences, that number could soon increase to six.

That would match the number of England internationals we had at the peak of the period around 13 years ago, when we frequently provided a large chunk of the Three Lions’ squad. Six was the highest number during that time, chosen by Steve McClaren for a 1-1 friendly draw with the Netherlands in November 2006, but who were they and what are they up to now?

Ashley Cole

This wasn’t the happiest game of Cole’s long and distinguished international career. He was selected ahead of Wayne Bridge at left-back but given the unenviable task of marking another of his Chelsea team-mates, Arjen Robben. He also summed up England’s frustration in the second half when he picked up a booking for dissent. After a brief spell playing under Frank Lampard, and alongside Mount and Tomori, last season, Cole retired in the summer. He has retained his strong links with the Blues, though, working as a club ambassador in the US and Japan as well as helping out with the younger sides in our Academy as he completes his coaching qualifications.

Wayne Bridge

An unused substitute on that Wednesday evening in Amsterdam, Bridge’s presence in the squad meant both England left-backs were Chelsea players. After hanging up his boots in 2014, he was next seen on reality television, taking part in the 2016 edition of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! before decided to commit himself full-time to his second passion, poker. He now competes regularly in professional events on the international circuit.

Joe Cole

Cole showed his creativity in Amsterdam by providing a brilliant cross for Wayne Rooney to score England’s goal. He ended his playing career in November 2018, after spending time in America with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, and returned to Cobham to finish his coaching qualifications and take on a new role with Chelsea as a technical Academy coach at the start of this year.

Frank Lampard

Lampard played the full 90 minutes against the Netherlands, and we’re sure you don’t need telling what the Chelsea legend is up to these days. He is, of course, now in his first season as head coach here at Chelsea, guiding a young Blues team to a promising start to the 2019/20 campaign. Prior to that, our all-time leading scorer had learned the ropes as a manager at Derby County last season, reaching the Championship play-off final with a team which included Tomori, Mount and Ashley Cole.

John Terry

Terry skippered the England side on this occasion, his sixth time captaining his country, and played the whole match. He retired as a player last year at the age of 37 and went into coaching at Aston Villa, the club he had finished his playing career with. He was no doubt of assistance to Abraham on the training pitch last season at the Birmingham club, as they earned promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs. Furthermore, 4 December is the date to mark on your calendar, when Terry will return to Stamford Bridge for Villa’s top-flight fixture with Chelsea.

Shaun Wright-Phillips

The diminutive winger came off the bench for England against the Netherlands, replacing Andrew Johnson with a little over 15 minutes remaining. He retired less than two months ago, after a couple of years playing for Didier Drogba’s Phoenix Rising team in America. He has filled his time since with appearances as a television pundit and working in various roles at another of his previous clubs Manchester City, where his son D’Margio signed his first professional contract last month.

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