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Off you go: Remembering the 14 times a player has been sent off in a competitive match for England

Kyle Walker’s return to international duty ended in disappointing fashion as the defender was sent off during England’s 1-0 victory over Iceland in the Nations League, the Manchester City full-back given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card for a rash challenge.

Gareth Southgate has now said he will ‘hammer home’ the importance of discipline to his side after the first red card of his tenure, with the manager all too aware of how dismissals have cost the Three Lions in previous major tournaments.

Following Walker’s early bath, we’ve decided to look back at the 14 times a player has been sent off for England in a competitive fixture:

Allan Mullery v Yugoslavia (European Championships, 1968)

Allan Mullery will forever hold his place in the record books as the first player ever to be dismissed whilst playing for England, the Tottenham midfielder given his marching orders during a European Championship semi-final clash against Yugoslavia.

The tournament was a far cry to the modern equivalent stacked with teams across the continent, with world champions England heading into the four-team competition as favourites ahead of a semi-final meeting with their Eastern European counterparts.

Their hopes were ended following a 1-0 defeat, however, though the clash will be immortalised following Mullery’s red card, the midfielder responding to a late challenge from behind by petulantly kicking out at the Yugoslavian player to etch his name – for all the wrong reasons – into England history.

Manager Alf Ramsey was remarkably sympathetic of Mullery’s moment of madness, even paying the player’s £50 fine.

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Alan Ball v Poland (World Cup qualifier, 1973)

England had been world champions less than eight years earlier but failed to qualify for the World Cup for the very first time in 1973, two memorable clashes with Poland the Three Lions undoing.

The first clash between the two sides saw Poland run out 2-0 winners as England were reduced to 10 men, Alan Ball dismissed after becoming embroiled in an on-field scuffle as frustrations grew.

Poland famously secured a 1-1 draw at Wembley in the reverse fixture with goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski – dubbed a circus clown in gloves by Brian Clough pre-game – producing an extraordinary individual performance to seal his country’s place at the finals in West Germany.

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Ray Wilkins v Morocco (World Cup, 1986)

The narrative of the 1986 World Cup – for those of an English allegiance – will tell you that Diego Maradona cheated England out of almost certain victory in the competition with his ‘Hand of God’ antics, but Sir Bobby Robson’s side were largely awful prior to that unforgettable clash against Argentina.

An opening group defeat to Portugal was followed by a goalless draw against Morocco, a fixture which saw Ray Wilkins sent off for arguably England’s most childish ever red card.

After being caught offside, Wilkins proceeded to throw the ball a little too aggressively in the direction of the referee, earning an instant red card and adding to England’s misery after the Three Lions had earlier seen the inspirational Bryan Robson limp off injured.

David Beckham v Argentina (World Cup, 1998)

Arguably the most infamous of all England red cards, it took more than a decade for another player to receive red, with David Beckham becoming the nation’s number one hate-figure for his kick at Diego Simeone during the 1998 World Cup in France.

A pulsating last-16 clash between the two fierce rivals was poised at 2-2 when Beckham was sent off just two minutes into the second half, the Manchester United star kicking out at Simeone after being bundled to the ground by the combative Argentine.

England battled bravely despite Beckham’s brain-fart before crashing out of the competition on penalties, the midfielder vilified for his prominent role in the Three Lions’ World Cup exit.

Beckham bounced back to become a national hero and later captained the country with great aplomb, his story one of the most fascinating redemption tales in English football history.

Paul Ince v Sweden (European Championships qualifier, 1998)

England looked to bounce back from that World Cup disappointment as qualification for the 2000 European Championships began with a trip to Sweden, only for another red card to hinder their hopes as the Three Lions crashed to defeat in Stockholm.

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Alan Shearer had opened the scoring just 74 seconds into the clash, before the hosts hit back with two goals in two minutes to take a half-time lead.

England – in the absence of the suspended Beckham – struggled to get back into the clash and their chances were all but ended as Liverpool midfielder Ince was sent off, picking up two yellow cards in a matter of moments to make it back-to-back dismissals in competitive fixtures.

Paul Scholes v Sweden (European Championships qualifier, 1999)

An indifferent qualification campaign saw a change in management with Kevin Keegan taking charge of the national side, with Paul Scholes scoring a hat-trick against Poland in the new manager’s first game in charge.

Scholes, however, became the first England player to be sent off at Wembley just two fixtures later, the Manchester United midfielder’s trademark mistimed challenges seeing him make history in a home international.

Just how Scholes was not sent off in the first minutes of the match for a horrific lunge is unclear, but his reckless streak resulted in a later and deserved red card as England were held to a goalless draw by the group leaders.

David Batty v Poland (European Championship qualifier, 1999)

The third red card of a difficult run to secure qualification for the European Championships in 2000, the ever committed and combative David Batty was sent off during a goalless draw in Poland.

The tough-tackling Leeds midfielder was dismissed late on for a wild challenge on Radoslaw Michalski, in what proved to be the last act of an England career that delivered 42 caps.

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Batty was suspended for the nation’s play-off clashes against Scotland and was not included in the squad for the finals themselves, England crashing out at the group stages following a disappointing campaign.

Alan Smith v Macedonia (European Championship qualifier, 2002)

England were given an almighty scare by minnows Macedonia during qualification for Euro 2004, a shambolic display at Southampton’s St Mary’s resulting in an embarrassing 2-2 draw.

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David Seamen – just months after his World Cup howler against Ronaldinho – was beaten directly from a corner, before goals from David Beckham and Steven Gerrard rescued a point for England against a Macedonia side who twice led.

England’s misery was compounded as Leeds striker Alan Smith was sent off in stoppage time, the fiery forward receiving a second yellow card after recklessly tackling Aleksandar Vasoski.

David Beckham v Austria (World Cup qualifier, 2005)

David Beckham became the first player in history to twice be sent off whilst playing for England, dismissed for a second time during a World Cup qualifier against Austria at Old Trafford.

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Beckham was shown a red card after picking up two bookings in quick succession, though his blushes were spared as England held on for a 1-0 victory, Frank Lampard’s penalty providing three points following a lacklustre display.

In addition to becoming the first player twice dismissed, the Real Madrid star also became the first player in history to be sent off for England as captain.

History maker, once again.

Wayne Rooney v Portugal (World Cup, 2006)

England headed into the 2006 World Cup with the tag of a ‘Golden Generation’ and one fronted by an emerging star in Wayne Rooney, the forward’s unfortunate injury having cost the Three Lions dearly against Portugal at the European Championships two years earlier.

Against the same opposition in another major tournament quarter-final, Rooney’s absence was once again felt – though this time it was of the Manchester United man’s own doing.

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After tussling with Ricardo Carvalho, Rooney appeared to stamp on the defender and was subsequently dismissed after Portuguese protests, most notably from winking club teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.

England predictably crashed out on penalties with Rooney’s red mist the talking point of a nation.

Rob Green v Ukraine (World Cup qualifier, 2009)

The first and surprisingly only goalkeeper to have been sent off for England, Rob Green was shown a red card after clattering into Artem Milevskiy early into a World Cup qualifier in Ukraine, the forward getting to the ball first as Green came charging out of his penalty area.

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Rio Ferdinand’s mistake had played the goalkeeper into a world of trouble and his gamble backfired, though Andriy Shevchenko missed from the spot after hitting the post.

Ukraine eventually scored and secured a victory over an England side who qualified for the finals in South Africa despite the loss, though Green was dropped after a clanger in the tournament’s opener against the United States.

Wayne Rooney v Montenegro (European Championships qualifier, 2011)

Classic Rooney rage, this one.

The tempestuous forward certainly mellowed as he entered the latter stages of his career, but the former Manchester United man was still prone to outward displays of aggression.

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None more so than this wild hack against Montenegro, Rooney kicking out despite his side leading and on the verge of qualification to the European Championships.

The strikers dismissal cost England victory but fortunately not their place in the tournament, though his aggressive act meant he missed the first two games of the competition through a stupid suspension.

Steven Gerrard v Ukraine (World Cup qualifier, 2012)

Steven Gerrard became the second England captain to lead by rather poor example following his red card against Ukraine in 2012, the Liverpool midfielder picking up two yellow cards during a hard fought qualification draw at Wembley.

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Frank Lampard’s late penalty had rescued a point for an injury-hit England side after Yevhen Konoplyanka’s spectacular opener, but a positive fightback was dampened by Gerrard’s red card.

The midfielder had been cautioned for a loose elbow earlier in the clash, before seeing red for a clumsy challenge on Denys Garmash.

Kyle Walker v Iceland (UEFA Nations League, 2020)

Walker became the first England player in eight years to receive a red card in a competitive fixture last week, the Manchester City defender dismissed for a lunging challenge when already on a caution in a dull encounter with Iceland.

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The full-back’s mistimed challenge came with the game goalless and could have proved costly, though England prevailed following a chaotic final few minutes that saw Raheem Sterling open the scoring from the spot in stoppage-time, before Iceland missed a penalty of their own just moments later.

Walker’s mishap came after being recalled for the Three Lions and he will no doubt be disappointed by his error in Reykjavík.

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