Top five players with most England caps before turning 21

Over the years and decades, the England National Football team have been a breeding ground to a lot of extremely talented young players. some of those have also gone on to become generational in their own rights. One of the main reasons has been the robust English football pyramid along with the pressure cooker that is the Premier League structure which prepares players to handle the big boy game very early in their senior careers. 

One of the best examples of how English players begin to take the international stage by storm at a young age are Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling who made their debut at a young age and only went on to go from strength to strength. They became iconic wonderkids of the squad around whom the title winning squads were built. 

The current England team is also a great example. Young guns like Saka, Bellingham, and Foden are already established regulars of the starting eleven. Here, we will focus on the top five players who have won the most England caps before the age of 21 up until now.

5. Raheem Sterling- 20 caps

 Raheem Sterling - England star
Raheem Sterling (Credit - CNN)

It was on 10 September 2012 that Raheem Sterling earned his first England cap after a breath taking start to his Liverpool career. That performance made everyone take notice of his immense potential at that time. He achieved his dream of playing for the Three Lions once again in 2012 against Sweden, where he was named man of the match in his first-ever start for the Nation and to date, he has made 82 appearances. 

4. Michael Owen- 24 caps

Michael Owen
Michael Owen (Credit - Sky Sports)

As one of the country’s best strikers at that time, Michael Owen managed to perform at an exceptionally high level whenever he was called upon to play at least before the injuries caught up with him. He made 89 appearances for the National team and scored 40 goals. Michael Owen, known for his impressive speed and composed finishing, played for Liverpool where he burned the Premier League defenders at that time with sheer pace and skill. 

After making his England debut in the 2-0 friendly loss to Chile in 1998, Michael Owen went on to have a wonderful career and would go on to become one of the best forwards of all time. Even though the latter half of his career could have been even better barring injuries and a couple of transfers that did not quite work out.

3. Marcus Rashford- 29 caps

Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford (Credit - Sky Sports)

In 2016, Marcus Rashford was named in the 26 preliminary squad for the Euro 2016 for his first-ever call-up for England. In the warm-up match against Australia, he scored for the team, making him the youngest player in the history of the English national team to score a goal. 

The now England Boss, Gareth Southgate, who was then his manager in the under-21 team, has trusted him ever since he made his debut and has made 60 appearances for the team since then. With the Euro 2024 just around the corner, he will aim to play a crucial role for the team in which he has bagged in 17 goals so far and would look to add to his tally if they are to bring the Euros home this time around.

2. Jude Bellingham - 29 caps

 Jude Bellingham
Jude Bellingham (Credit - Sky Sports)

At present, Jude Bellingham also known as Bellingol due to his goal scoring exploits from midfield is one of the best young footballer in the world. He has arrived in La Liga in style and has embraced the league and now his open arms celebration makes a lot of sense. His teammates have been awed both on and off the field by his performance. Apart from his ease of effortlessly slotting into  one of the most decorated teams of all time, the most impressive thing of his game is his attitude to become the best in the game. He has so far made 29 appearances for the England national team and scored three goals. 

His importance to the team has grown very much as he brings an aggressive style to his gameplay both in terms of being a physical presence as well as being a mentality monster. He is one of the first names on the team sheet to partner in midfield. As well as solidifying the defence, he provides a smooth transition to attack with his positioning and ability to bring a balance in midfield . 

1. Wayne Rooney - 35 caps

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney (Credit - Sky Sports)

Having burst onto the international stage at the age of 17, Wayne Rooney became the youngest player to play for the England National Team. He made his debut against Australia. When he scored for England against Macedonia in the Euro 2004 qualifying match, he made history for being the youngest goal scorer for the team at that time. 

After that the rest is history as he made 120 appearances for the team, scoring 53 goals. During his young age, Wayne Rooney was the first player to earn 35 caps for the National Team before he was 21 years old. As the record goal scorer for Manchester United, Rooney would go on to become one of the greatest players the country has ever had. Gazza was indeed the modern day white Pele that many of us got to witness in its full glory for club and country. 

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