But for chronic misfortune on the injury front, Jamie Redknapp could have been the dominant creative force in the England midfield for a decade and through numerous international tournaments. The natural successor to Paul Gascoigne in terms of creativity, touch and vision, Redknapp was a child prodigy who developed quickly after moving to Liverpool as a teenager and was unsurprisingly brought into the England set-up by Terry Venables, a long-time fan, at the age of 22, once he had established himself as Liverpool's first choice craftsman. Redknapp debuted in a 0-0 draw against Colombia - his first England game was his clubmate and mentor John Barnes' last - and immediately earned a tiny piece of folklore when he delivered the harmless cross-cum-shot towards the Colombian goal which was 'scorpion kicked' away by barmy Colombian keeper Rene Higuita.
There was less than a year to go to the 1996 European Championships, for which England had qualified automatically as hosts, and Redknapp's subtleties were quickly making him a shoo-in for the squad as Venables gave him two more starts in a 3-1 win over Switzerland and a 1-1 draw with Portugal. Jamie was absent for the first three friendlies of 1996, finally returning to the fold in the 3-0 win over China which channelled his mature, calm delicacy on the ball so well that he secured a place in Venables' final squad, even though he had been tipped by most pundits to miss out in favour of the more industrious Robert Lee.
Redknapp was never going to start the opener against Switzerland while Gascoigne was around, but Venables was able to utilise his resourceful squad system when England were pegged back by Scotland in the first-half of their match at Wembley, taking off Stuart Pearce and switching to three at the back, slinging on Redknapp to force the harsh Scotland midfield further back. It worked delightfully, with Gascoigne adding a signature second to Shearer's headed opener, but although Jamie helped with the 'dentist chair' celebrations, he was soon to suffer a horrific broken ankle and had to be carried off, with an upset Venables using Redknapp's lucklessness to put Sol Campbell into the fray and re-shore the defence.
Jamie's tournament was over and he didn't return to England duty until March 1997 when Glenn Hoddle put him on in place of David Batty as England beat Mexico 2-0 at Wembley. Redknapp came on as a sub in the next game too - a 2-0 win over Georgia in a qualifier for the 1998 World Cup - but his long-term hope of being England's creator-in-waiting was diminishing thanks to the emergence of Manchester United's David Beckham. Redknapp's eighth cap came in May 1997 as England beat South Africa 2-1 in a carnival friendly at Old Trafford but for the second time in his England career he was stretchered off with after breaking the same ankle, not to become available to Hoddle again until the autumn of 1998, meaning he missed the World Cup.
It never properly happened for Redknapp again. He scored a fantastic goal - his only one for England - with a stunning left foot strike off the crossbar in a friendly win over Belgium in Sunderland, and started three of England's qualification games for the 2000 European Championships. He earned a starting and starring role in both legs of the Jekyll-and-Hyde play-off win over Scotland (the pictures above are during and just after England's 2-0 first leg win) which ultimately got England there but almost inevitably, he missed the finals themselves through injury and never got back into the England set-up, with the dubious record of being stretchered off on three separate occasions his only statistic of note. This story was purely about bad luck, as Redknapp had the talent to be one of England's true aces of the 1990s and three consecutive coaches believed highly in him. It was just not to be. (Matthew Rudd)