Harry Kane tops this list, which is obviously why he wants to leave. It’s not good company in which to find yourself. And we do mean f*** all. No Second Division titles, no Turkish Cups, no Asian Games, no play-offs, no nothing…
10) James Beattie
He scored the same number of Premier League goals as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (91) but his trophy cabinet is rather more empty than the Norwegian’s, with nine spells at eight different clubs reaping no tangible reward in the shape of medals. He even managed to play for Rangers when they were sh*t.
The closest he came was in 2003 when he reached the FA Cup final with Southampton and almost forced the game into extra-time but saw his header (of course) cleared off the line by Ashley Cole. Close but no cigar.
9) Trevor Sinclair
The recipient of 150 hours of unpaid work, a driving disqualification and a £500 fine for calling a police officer a “white c***” in 2018, Trevor Sinclair never actually won a club trophy – despite being able to claim more Premier League assists than Riyad Mahrez, Mikel Arteta and David Ginola.
He has won a Goal of the Season gong for that overhead kick and finished as runner-up in the Hammer of the Year award to Paolo Di Canio, but club honours somehow evaded him at Blackpool, QPR, West Ham, Manchester City, Cardiff City and Lancaster City. But would he really swap a place in Blackpool’s Hall of Fame for a League Cup medal? Yes, of course he would.
As it stands, Sinclair is in a very elite group of England World Cup quarter-finalists who have never actually won an trophy; even sodding Danny Mills won a League Cup.
Oh and he talks nonsense.
8) Kieron Dyer
The proud owner of 33 England caps and yet the genuinely talented Kieron Dyer never finished higher than third in the league nor played in an actual cup final, having joined Newcastle just after their back-to-back FA Cup final defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United. That under-achievement – and it is an under-achievement considering his natural ability – feels apt as Dyer’s story is one marked by persistent injury and foolishness.
Dyer was so desperate for trophies that he entered I’m a Celebrity in 2015. Although he lasted longer than Chris Eubank and Tony Hadley, he was no Vicky Pattison (who is?); he came fourth. Foiled again.
As Barney Ronay wrote on his retirement in 2013: ‘He never won a trophy or any individual award of note. He leaves effectively no mark at all, his most memorable act on a football pitch being punched by a team-mate in 2005. His career is, in outline, a modern sporting absurdity.’
Oh and Lee Bowyer won a League Cup as a player and League One promotion as a manager. Sorry fella.
7) Aaron Hughes
The next time someone wonders who has made the most Premier League appearances without ever winning a single trophy of any sort, refer them to Aaron William Hughes and request that they ask no more strange questions. Northern Ireland’s favourite utility man played 455 games in England’s top flight but won silverware neither there, Australia, India nor even Scotland.
Hughes’ commitment to the cause even went as far as to losing the 2001 Intertoto Cup on away goals to Troyes, leaving Newcastle a year before they ended those decades of hurt by winning the 2006 edition against Lillestrom. The defender was not included in the Magpies’ squad for either the 1998 or 1999 FA Cup finals – is it any wonder they lost both comfortably?
A couple of seasons at Aston Villa bore no tangible reward, while seven years at Fulham almost delivered unfathomable Europa League glory. Hughes did not miss a single minute from the Cottagers’ final group game to their extra-time defeat in the 2010 final to Atletico Madrid.
Hughes did not make the squad for 2019’s Scottish Cup final, forced to watch as his Hearts side were agonisingly beaten 2-1 by Celtic after taking the lead. “As an older player, it would be a nice thing to have a trophy that I can look back on when I’m finished,” he said. “For all the games and all the years and all the different things I’ve done, I’ve never been lucky enough to actually win a cup.”
6) Leighton Baines
Sliding doors and all that: Leighton Baines came close to joining Manchester United in 2013. Had he been sold, he might have had a medal collection to mirror Marouane Fellaini’s haul of FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League; instead he has three times come close to claiming a medal and has emerged with jack all. He was in the Wigan side that finished second in the Championship and then reached a League Cup final in which they were comprehensively beaten by Manchester United. He then joined Everton and reached the FA Cup final in 2009 only to lose to Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea.
“During my time and in recent seasons we have just been beneath, we have come close a few times with cup finals, semi-finals, trips to Wembley but falling at the final hurdle,” said Baines in the summer of 2017 as he allowed himself to dream after a window of significant spending. It never happened and he retired potless.
5) Danny Rose
For good or bad, the careers of Kyle Walker and Danny Rose will forever be entwined and therefore inevitably compared. England international full-backs born in Yorkshire in 1990, both of whom realised their potential in the same precocious Tottenham side. But while one flew the coup, the other is yet to stretch his wings.
It is not for the want of trying. Rose did his best to engineer a move in the summer of 2017. “Time is running out and I do want to win trophies,” he said, presumably wary of becoming the next Trevor Sinclair or Kieron Dyer. “I don’t want to play football for 15 years and not have one trophy or one medal. Sorry, that’s not what I am about. I wouldn’t be happy with that. I want to win something.”
The words of Walker – “it’s like trying to describe the birth of your children, you can’t. And you can’t describe the feeling of winning trophies, either” – will hardly help. His former teammate has added a gazillion pieces of silverware at Manchester City. Rose’s Champions League runner-up medal will look lovely next to its 2015 League Cup counterpart.
4) Dele Alli
This is not the kind of list on which we should find a player previously touted as a £100m-plus target for Real Madrid and Barcelona. And yet here Dele Alli sits, driving and diving in search of a first trophy, having claimed promotion but no League One title with MK Dons. Like Rose, Alli has twice been voted in the Premier League’s best XI by his peers and yet Tottenham have come up short when it comes to actual silverware.
Right now, he is just glad to be back in the Tottenham fold as Ryan Mason takes the reins for a short but uplifting spell.
“He’s a young player, but he’s not a proven player. At the moment, he hasn’t won anything,” were the chastening words of England manager Gareth Southgate in August 2017. Little has changed. But logic would surely suggest that Alli – still only 25 – will end up with a greater haul than Southgate’s own pair of League Cups, Full Members Cup and First Division titles. If he doesn’t, it really has gone quite badly wrong.
3) Stan Collymore
As Daniel Storey wrote in 2017: ‘England’s very own nearly man. There are many supporters of Nottingham Forest and Liverpool who will talk long into the night about Collymore’s natural talent, but his three England caps and lack of any major career honours is testament to the problems that bubbled under the service.’ As does the fact that he scored fewer Premier League goals than Dean Holdsworth.
Collymore did at least reach one major final, but he lasted only 74 minutes of the absolutely rotten 1996 FA Cup showpiece before watching Eric Cantona score the winner for Manchester United from the bench. The irony is that Collymore had seemingly been close to joining United the summer before only for Sir Alex Ferguson to opt for Andy Cole (five Premier League, a Champions League and two FA Cups).
2) Matt Le Tissier
When Southampton pair Matt Le Tisser and Alan Shearer sat in tears having ended up on the losing side of the Full Members Cup clash with Nottingham Forest in front of almost 68,000 at Wembley, they must have talked about how their chance would come again. For Shearer it would, with the Premier League being claimed three years later. For Le Tissier, that would sadly be as close as he would ever come to glory. He would never finish higher than seventh and the Saints would reach an FA Cup final the year after he left the club.
But he was brilliant. Simply brilliant.
“I’ve no regrets whatsoever,” Le Tissier told FourFourTwo in 2010. “From seven years old I had an ambition to be a professional footballer and I had an ambition to play for England, and I fulfilled both at Southampton. Yes, I knew I probably wouldn’t win any honours, but when you’re at a club that size, staying in the Premier League for 16 years gave me as much pleasure as winning a medal if I’d gone somewhere else. No-one expected us to stay up there for that long. I was so chuffed to be a part of that.”
Which brings us to…
1) Harry Kane
“I don’t see why he wouldn’t stay there for the rest of his career,” says Le Tissier when asked about Harry Kane. But the rest of the footballing world has been shifting from foot to foot and wondering when this great, great goalscorer might want to win some trophies instead of individual trinkets. And it turns out the time is now.
It seems that over 150 Premier League goals, four appearances (and counting) in the PFA Team of the Year, two (and counting) Golden Boots is just not enough when the actual trophy cabinet is empty.
“I’ve always said that team trophies are what I want to achieve,” Kane said in January 2018. “For me, it’s about winning trophies – that’s always the aim.” He has come second in Europe, the Premier League and the League Cup, as well as fourth in the actual world. And he quite understandably wants more.