From Mills and Butcher to Holland and Knudsen - Ipswich Town’s perfect 10 at the World Cup
- Credit: AP
A total of 10 players have represented their countries at World Cups while on the books of Ipswich Town.
Jonas Knudsen’s made it a perfect 10 for Ipswich Town at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
The Dane represented his country in their last 16 clash with Croatia, which they lost on penalties, making him the 10th player to have played at the World Cup while on the Ipswich Town books.
Here we take a look at the players who represented the Blues on the biggest stage of all.
Spain 1982 (England)
One summer on from their UEFA Cup triumph, Ipswich Town had no fewer than six players at the World Cup in Spain – three for England and three for Scotland.
Let’s start with the Three Lions. Versatile full-back Mick Mills (42 caps), the skipper for club and country, centre-back Terry Butcher (77 caps) and striker Paul Mariner (35 caps) were all in the squad, while Russell Osman (11 caps) – who was Butcher’s partner in the heart of the Blues’ defence – could feel hard done by to miss the cut.
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This was England’s first appearance at a World Cup in 12 years and Ron Greenwood’s men had only just made it by the skin of their teeth following a disjointed qualifying campaign.
They returned unbeaten in five games and conceded just once. That was with talismanic duo Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking injured for the most part. Yet many felt that it could have been even better.
Bryan Robson put England ahead just 27 seconds into their opener against France and, though Gérard Soler levelled the game midway through the first half, Robson again, and then Mariner, added second-half strikes to make it a dream start against the eventual semi-finalists.
Glenn Hoddle stepped off the bench to help inspire a 2-0 win against Czechoslovakia and then Kuwait were seen off 1-0. The ‘reward’ for finishing top of the group was to get West Germany and Spain in the second group phases (a format which seems alien now).
A pair of goalless draws was not enough. Italy went on to beat West Germany in the final, Greenwood resigned and the FA came calling for a certain Bobby Robson...
Mariner and Mills played every minute of every game, while Butcher was rested for the Kuwait match.
Spain 1982 (Scotland)
Jock Stein’s men had comfortably qualified from a tough group including Portugal, Sweden and Northern Ireland. They were subsequently drawn in the so-called ‘group of death’ along with Brazil, the Soviet Union and New Zealand.
Right-back George Burley (11 caps), midfielder John Wark (29 caps) and front man Alan Brazil (13 caps) were the Town trio in the squad.
Scotland beat the Kiwis 5–2 in their first game, Wark scoring twice, but then lost 4–1 to a Brazil team containing Socrates, Zico, Eder and Falcão. A 2–2 draw with the Soviet Union saw them eliminated on goal difference.
Wark played every minute of all three games. Alan Brazil played 83 minutes against New Zealand and stepped off the bench against the Soviet Union. Burley was outside of the 16-man matchday squad for all three games.
Bulgarian attacking midfielder Bontcho Guentchev (12 caps) went to the tournament having just helped John Lyall’s Blues narrowly avoid Premiership relegation on the final day of the season.
He didn’t feature in the group stages as Hristo Stoichkov and co progressed thanks to wins against Greece and Argentina, but came on as a second half sub and scored his spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out win against Mexico.
He also stepped off the bench in the semi-final 2-1 defeat to Italy, then did not feature in the 4-0 third place play-off defeat to Sweden.
Japan/South Korea 2002
Town captain Matt Holland (49 caps) helped the Republic of Ireland reach the last 16 following the infamous early tournament bust-up between manager Mick McCarthy and midfielder Roy Keane, the latter storming home before a ball was kicked.
Holland rifled home a fine, low equaliser from 25-yards in Ireland’s opening 1-1 draw with Cameroon, then came Robbie Keane’s stoppage-time equaliser against Germany and a 3-0 win against Saudi Arabia. Robbie Keane’s late converted penalty forced extra-time against Spain, Ian Harte having already seen one saved from the spot, before Holland was one of three Irish players to miss in the shoot-out defeat.
Town midfielder Amir Karic (64 caps), who made just three League Cup appearances for the Blues, also went to that tournament with Slovenia. They finished bottom of Group B after defeats to Spain, South Africa and Paraguay.
South Africa 2010
Homegrown Town defender Tommy Smith started every game as New Zealand exited at the group stage with draws against Slovakia (1-1), Italy (1-1) and Paraguay (0-0).
Knudsen and Bartosz Bialkowski both earned World Cup calls on the back of their form at Ipswich and it looked as if both would be returning home without making it onto the field.
Bialkowski was an unnused substitute in all three games as Poland exited in the group stage, while Knudsen didn’t make it off the bench in any of Denmark’s three group games either.
But the last-16 clash with Croatia was a different story, as Knudsen was brought into the side to test the Croatian defence with his long throws.
It worked within 60 seconds, as his hurl into the box caused carnage in the Croatian defence and led to Mathias Jorgensen turning the ball home.
“I do not think they knew about my throw-in,” Knudsen said. “At least they did not seem to be aware of it.”
There would be heartbreak for the Danes, though, as they exited the tournament on penalties.