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No spring chickens

ESPN staff
November 9, 2012
© PA Photos

Following Leon Osman's call-up to the England squad at the age of 31, we take a look at some other men who had to wait to make their international debut.

Alec Morten
The record books state that Alec Morten is England's oldest debutant, who was into his 40s before earning his first cap. However, we can't be entirely sure how old the former Crystal Palace keeper was, with some records claiming he was born on November 15, 1831, while other sources suggest he was not born until the following year. Either way, Morten, who was 69 when he died in February 1900, could not have been younger than 41 when he captained England against Scotland at Kennington Oval on March 8, 1973.

Leslie Compton
Goalkeepers tend to enjoy longer careers than most, so Leslie Compton's feat is perhaps more impressive, when in November 1950, the Arsenal centre-half became England's oldest outfield debutant at the age of 38. Compton, who had won the FA Cup for the Gunners alongside brother Denis the previous season, was also a talented cricketer and the pair were also on Middlesex's County Championship-winning side in 1947. Compton earned the first of two caps during a 4-2 victory over Wales at Roker Park in November 1950.

Steve Bould
Another Arsenal centre-half had to wait until he was into his thirties to earn international recognition, when Steve Bould - part of the legendary Gunners defence featuring Tony Adams, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn - was called up by the newly-installed England boss Terry Venables at the age of 31. Although he only made two appearances for England, he can boast a perfect record - having made his debut in a 5-0 win over Greece before playing in a goalless draw, Bould has never conceded a goal in an England shirt.

Kevin Davies
Towards the end of the 2009-10 season, Kevin Davies was approached by the Scottish FA which asked if he was eligible to play for Scotland. Davies, who earned three caps at Under-21 level for England, was quoted as saying that "with a name like Davies, I'm more likely to have Welsh blood in me", but said he had no interest in switching allegiance. Davies' loyalty was rewarded the following season, and at the age of 33, the Bolton striker was called up to the England squad for the first time, making his debut as a substitute in the Three Lions' goalless draw against Montenegro, becoming the oldest England debutant since Leslie Compton back in the '50s.

Chris Powell enjoyed an impressive England debut © PA Photos

Chris Powell
Chris Powell may not have been as old as Kevin Davies, but his first cap was arguably more surprising. Just a few months after being dropped by Charlton boss Alan Curbishley, left-back Powell was playing for England, and arguably played better than David Beckham during his debut against Spain. Powell was aware that England boss Sven Goran Eriksson and assistant Tord Grip had attended a few Charlton matches, but assumed they had been monitoring centre-back Richard Rufus. "He's 26, playing very well, and I just got on with my games," he said. "I was so shell-shocked when I was told it was me who had caught the eye. When you hear years of talk about the left-footed, left-back problem and your name doesn't crop up, you feel it's never going to happen."

Bill Nicholson
Arguably one of the most impressive debuts in an England shirt, Bill Nicholson scored with his first touch of the ball. Nicholson, whose career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, made his full international debut at the age of 32, in a 5-2 victory over Portugal at Goodison Park in May 1951. Scoring after just 19 seconds, Nicholson never played for England again.

Marcos Senna
Moving further afield, Marcos Senna's long-awaited international debut came in March 2006, just a few months shy of his 30th birthday. Senna, who was born in Brazil but was granted Spanish citizenship in 2006, made his debut in a friendly against Ivory Coast, before playing in the 2006 World Cup. Considered by many to be the player of the tournament when Spain were crowned European champions at Euro 2008, Senna was left out of the final 23-man squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Steve Savidan
An emotive tale to warm the cockles of your heart on a chilly November day is the story of Steve Savidan, who earned his sole France cap at the age of 30. The journeyman striker, who had spent most of his career in the lower leagues of French football, had even had to work briefly as a waste collector and bartender to supplement his income. He joined third-division Valenciennes in 2004, and his extraordinary goal tally saw the club gain successive promotions into the top flight. His goalscoring exploits earned him a big-money move to Caen, and his record caught the eye of Les Blues coach Raymond Domenech. Admittedly, Savidan's solitary international appearance - a goalless home draw against Uruguay in November 2008 was unremarkable, but any hopes of a second call-up were shattered when he was forced to hang up his boots the following summer after doctors discovered he had a defective heart.

Ronnie Simpson
Celtic legend Ronnie Simpson, who made his debut for Queen's Park in 1945 at the tender age of 14, represented Great Britain at the 1948 Olympics, but had to wait until 1967 to earn his first Scotland cap. At the age of 36, keeper Simpson became Scotland's oldest ever debutant in a famous 3-2 victory over world champions England at Wembley, just a month before he lifted the European Cup with Celtic.

Bill Lacey
One of an exclusive list of players to have played for both Everton and Liverpool, Bill Lacey made his first international debut in 1909 for the Irish Football Assocation - representing a unified Ireland, but 18 years later, he made his second international debut at the grand old age of 37 for the Football Association of Ireland. The versatile Lacey, who played all 11 positions during his career, was the oldest debutant for the FAI in 1927 and went onto become his nation's oldest player in history when he made his last international bow aged 41.

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