On a recent episode of Alive and Kicking, host Ash Rose and guest Sid Lambert came-up with their own particular XI’s. Using the lead character from Sid’s new book Cashing In as the lead, they both picked an eleven made-up of players who in the 1990s looked as though they were destined to become stars, but for one reason or another never fulfilled their potential.
So then in all their 1990 stickers glory is the two teams the guys picked. If you want to hear their reasons behind each choice, you can listen to the special episode here, which also includes a fascinating interview with 90s child prodigy Sonny Pike.
Sid Lambert XI
Goalkeeper; Richard Wright (Ipswich Town)
The 90s outstanding goalkeeper who’s promise at Ipswich earned him a big money move to Arsenal. Unfortunately he never made theta step up and became a perennial bench-warmer for rest of his career.
Right-back; Gary Charles (Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa)
A steady-eddie at Premier League level but was hotly-tipped to became an England regular in his early Forest days. It never happened, and despite a decent top-flight career gave into his demons once retired.
Sweeper; Chris Bart-Willams (Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest)
Seemed to be a jack of all trades in his time at Forest and Wednesday, hence he’s shoe-horned role at the back. A typically 90s name who starred for England’s U21’s but his never made the full grade internationally.
Central defender; Dean Blackwell (Wimbledon)
A name some may not remember but among Wimbledon’s crazy gang of the 90s Dean was seen in same vein as John Scales and Chris Perry. His mega money move never materialised and remained a Don for the vast majority of his career.
Left-back; John Harley (Chelsea)
A product of the Chelsea youth team (and someone Sid used to play football with), Jon broke through right at the end of the decade. However, his career stalled as he could never dislodge Graeme Le Saux or Celestine Babayaro from the number three slot.
Right midfield; Stuart Slater (West Ham United)
Hammers fans have fond memories of this tricky winger, namely for some impressive display in the FA Cup in the early 90s. His promise though was short-lived as injury slowed down his career and he never did recapture his early potential.
Centre midfield; Joe Parkinson (Everton)
One of Joe Royle’s ‘Dogs of War’ alongside Barry Horne in the Toffees central midfield, Joe was a proper combative midfielder. Won an FA Cup winners medal with Everton but a knee injury meant we never got to see the very best of him after that.
Centre midfield; Sasa Curcic (Bolton, Aston Villa)
The only foreign inclusion comes in the shape of Serbian (or then Yugoslavian) Sasa Curcic, who rocked up at Bolton in 1995 and bamboozled the Premier League. However, Sasa became more Ketsbia than Juninho after failed moves to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace and later went on to star in the Serbian Big Brother.
Left midfield; Ian Olney (Aston Villa)
Before there was Peter Crouch there was this gangly and unique looking forward in Villa’s early 90s line-up. He however, didn’t have that ‘great touch for a big man’ and despite become Oldham’s record signing in 1992, he quickly fell away from the game and today is a financial advisor.
Striker; Daniel Dichio (QPR)
Readers of Match magazine may remember Dichio being the coolest kid on the block when he broke into the QPR team – thanks to his DJ skills. But on the pitch it all came to soon for ‘Daniele’. Thrown in the deep end after Les Ferdinand’s departure the striker couldn’t repeat the goal feats he found at youth level. His Italian roots did somehow get him a move to Sampdoria after Rangers though.
Striker; Francis Jeffers (Everton)
He may have had to live with the tag ‘fox in the box’ for the majority of his career but before that ill-fated move to Highbury, Jeffers looked the real deal. Scoring 20 goals in his first 60 matches for the Toffees, many thought young Francis would be England’s next poacher supreme. Then came his move to Arsenal before a tour of world football that’s seen him play in Australia, Scotland and even Malta.
Ash Rose’s XI
Goalkeeper; Richard Wright (Ipswich Town)
The only player picked by both Ash and Sid, Wright’s only competition came in the lesser renowned shape of Paul Gerrard and Steve Simonsen. Unbelievably still on Manchester City’s books as a their last resort choice for goalkeeper.
Right-back; Rob Jones (Liverpool)
Still highly regarded by Liverpool fans and someone who if it weren’t for injury could have gone on to rival Gary Neville for England’s right-back spot. Made his international debut the same night as Alan Shearer, but back and knee problems meant he never built on his early promise and won just seven further caps for the Three Lions.
Central defender; Paul Lake (Manchester City)
A somewhat City darling of the late 1980s who was seen as one the brightest products to ever come out of their youth team. Able to play in defence and midfield, Lake was an U21 international by the time the 90s rolled around but then suffered a ACL injury that he never recovered from and retired in 1994.
Central defender; Stuart Nethercott (Tottenham Hotspur)
Not an obvious name and he just edged out Ricky Scimeca in a position where youngsters didn’t flourish in the 90s. Nethercott was once seen as the potential long-term replacement for Gary Mabbutt and earned international recognition at U21 level as well as playing over 50 Premier League games for Spurs. However, Stuart – a Merlin sticker favourite – never kicked-on and with Sol Campbell breaking through was sold to Millwall in 1998.
Left-back; Danny Granville (Chelsea)
Chelsea’s left-back position was an embarrassment of riches in the 90s, we’ve already mentioned Jon Harley, but Danny was another youngster who vied for that spot during the decade. Signed from Cambridge with high-hopes, Granville was never given a fair run in the side – despite playing in the 1998 Cup Winners Cup Final. With Le Saux and Babayaro ahead of him, he went on to Leeds in 1998 and later Crystal Palace.
Right wing; Darren Eadie (Norwich City, Leicester City)
One of FourFourTwo magazines first ever players to feature in their ‘Boys A Bit Special’ section, Eadie was seen as one of the Canaries most popular players of the late 90s. Darren had the ability to play anywhere across midfield and had an keen eye for goal. Something which earned him 7 U21 caps and a call-up to the England squad for 1997’s Le Tournoi. A move to Leicester in 1999 was meant to the next step for Eadie but injury curtailed his spell and was forced to retire after just 40 appearances.
Central midfield; Darren Caskey (Tottenham Hotspur)
In Merlin’s first ever Premier League sticker album, Caskey was highlighted in the collections ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ section; looking resplendent in a classic England away kit of the time. The midfielder captained the famous U18 side that won the Euros in 1992 and was expected to go on and do the same at White Hart Lane. it didn’t go down like that and after never fulfilling his potential at Spurs went on to play for Reading and Notts County.
Central midfield; Ian Selly (Arsenal)
Made his Gunners debut aged 18 and was the youngest player on the field when Arsenal beat Parma to win the Cup Winners Cup in 1994. At that point the future looked bright for the central midfielder, until a cruel leg-break became the beginning of the end. He played just one further game in North London before being sold to Fulham and never recapturing that early glory.
Left wing; Lee Sharpe (Manchester United, Leeds United)
Alongside Ryan Giggs in Man Utd’s early 90s breakthrough, Sharpe became one of football’s first pin-ups. Signed from Torquay, his electric pace and pop-star looks saw him fast-tracked to United’s first team and his corner-flag shimmy was soon all the rage. Lee though, unlike his United team-mate fell fail to the bright lights and instead of filling the void on England’s left flank during the 90s (he won just 8 caps), he instead was filling up his score-cards of his own. Moved to Leeds in 1996 and later had spells at Sampdoria and Bradford.
Striker; Danny Cadamarteri (Everton)
There’s not many better ways of announcing yourself into the first team then scoring a winner in a Merseyside derby. That’s exactly what Cadamarteri did in once of his early appearances for The Toffees, but it was something of a false dawn for the striker. Despite looking like he had all the tools to become an Everton regular, he managed just 15 goals in four seasons for the club and after some scrapings with the law over assault charges was released in 2001.
Striker; Julian Joachim (Leicester City, Aston Villa)
Few players were quicker and more explosive in the early 1990s than Leicester’s Julian Joachim. Having impressed in the First Division as the Foxes achieved promotion, Joachim was on target with the club’s first-ever Premier League goal at the start of 1994-95 season. His speedy displays were enough to convince Aston Villa to sign him a year later, but Julian never settled on a larger platform and was eventually moved to the wing and then sent to Coventry – literally.