20 years on from the Premier League's last all-English XI
John Gregory named an all-English XI when Aston Villa met Coventry City in 1999 - and it has not happened in the Premier League since.
Do you remember when Aston Villa hosted Coventry City on February 27, 1999? Unless you're a fan of either club - or have an eidetic memory - it is unlikely to be a game you can recall.
When English players filled a team
In case you have forgotten, or never knew in the first place, Coventry won impressively 4-1 at Villa Park thanks to two goals apiece from John Aloisi and George Boateng.
However, the result is not the reason why the fixture is of great interest. Instead, it is the team selected by Villa boss John Gregory, as he fielded a starting XI made up entirely of English players.
Here is the line-up: Michael Oakes, Steve Watson, Gareth Southgate, Dion Dublin, Simon Grayson, Riccardo Scimeca, Alan Wright, Lee Hendrie, Paul Merson, Ian Taylor, Julian Joachim.
It was the 55th time an all-English team had been named in the Premier League – but it is has not happened in the 20 years since then.
To mark the anniversary of the last full English seen in the Premier League, here are some sizzling facts, courtesy of Opta, for you to digest.
- Gregory did not stop at picking 11 Englishmen in the game – he also used three subs from the same country. Mark Draper, Gareth Barry and Stan Collymore all came on for Villa, who found the net courtesy of a penalty from Dublin in the 55th minute (which made the score 2-1).
- The 1998-99 season was the first in the Premier League where the percentage of English players used in the competition dropped below 50 per cent (48.2 per cent).
- There has never been a Premier League match in which all 22 players who started were English. QPR and Newcastle United came close in January 1994, combining to select 21 between them. The only non-Englishman involved that day? Tony Roberts, QPR's Welsh goalkeeper.
- Gregory named teams containing 10 Englishmen on 10 occasions after that Coventry fixture. The only other two clubs to hit that number since are West Ham, against Tottenham in March 2003 (Czech Tomas Repka was the odd man out), and Middlesbrough, who fielded Scotsman James Morrison against Fulham, in May 2006.
- Aston Villa have named the most all-English starting XIs in Premier League history (19). Newcastle United (14) are second, while other clubs to do so are: Arsenal (5), Coventry (4), Leicester City (3), Oldham Athletic (3), Sheffield Wednesday (2), Tottenham Hotspur (2), Norwich City (1), Leeds United (1) and Southampton (1).
- The first time that a Premier League starting XI contained no English (or in fact, no British) players was when Chelsea played Southampton on Boxing Day 1999, just 302 days after that Aston Villa game with Coventry City. Gianluca Vialli's starting XI that day was Ed de Goey (Netherlands), Gabriele Ambrosetti (Italy), Celestine Babayaro (Nigeria), Didier Deschamps (France), Roberto Di Matteo (Italy), Emerson Thome (Brazil), Albert Ferrer (Spain), Frank Leboeuf (France), Dan Petrescu (Romania), Gustavo Poyet (Uruguay) and Tore Andre Flo (Norway).
- Of the five English managers to name teams in the Premier League era that did not include a fellow countryman, three have also taken charge of the Three Lions. Kevin Keegan, who went without an English player in an XI once, back in November 2002, was the first. He was followed by: Sam Allardyce (six times) and Steve McClaren (four times). Brian McDermott (once) and Alan Pardew (five times) complete the quintet.
- Arsenal have selected the most line-ups in the competition with no Englishmen – and it is not even close. It has occurred for the Gunners on 173 occasions, putting them well clear of second-placed Wigan (42). Manchester United, in contrast, have only done it once - it was in a derby fixture against Manchester City in 2009 though Alex Ferguson did send on English duo Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes as substitutes in a 2-0 win.