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Albion 8: Baggie Boys in tournaments

15 December 2015

Albion boys, reporting for duty

WELCOME back to Albion 8 - a weekly delve into our archives.

This week it's all about internationals. But not just any internationals. As a nod to the lads who will be jetting off to take part in Euro 2016 next summer, these are Baggie Boys who represented us in tournaments.

With apologies to those we missed out, here are our eight...

BOBBY ROBSON (England, 1958)
Part of Albion's English triumvirate that went to the 1958 World Cup, Robson played in all three of England's group games - before being left out of the play-off game against USSR, which England lost. That'll teach them. Robson was selected for the 1962 World Cup but succumb to injury just before the tournament - some lad called Bobby Moore took his place.

WILLIE JOHNSTON (Scotland, 1978)
We might as well get this one over and done with. Rod Stewart sang about Scotland bringing the World Cup home from Argentina...sadly, it wasn't to be. Scotland returned after three games, with Johnston coming home even sooner. The Baggies winger was summoned to do a test after another Scotland player declined and his sample contained a banned substance found in hay fever remedy. His career never recovered and handed Ron Atkinson an anecdote about how he'd arranged a sponsorship deal with a leading High Street chemist...

DEREK KEVAN (England, 1958)
Not the greatest World Cup for England, but it didn't stop The Tank being the Three Lions' stand out performer in Sweden. Kevan probably only got his chance due to the Munich disaster - a tragedy that robbed Manchester United and England of a generation of players - but he grasped his chance, scoring in the 2-2 draw with USSR. 

CHRIS WOOD (New Zealand, 2010)
Deep in the bowels of the Albion training ground are two photos - one of him challenging Italy's Giorgio Chiellini, one of him getting past Fabio Cannavaro. Both are from the 2010 World Cup when our then 18-year-old striker was the youngest member of the New Zealand squad in South Africa. The 1-1 draw with Italy, when Wood came on as a substitute, was a particular highlight for the All Whites.

JONAS OLSSON (Sweden, 2012)
The giant Swede made his tournament bow in the last Euros, playing in the 3-2 defeat to England and retaining his place in the team in the 2-0 win over France. It wasn't enough to save Sweden from an early exit. He'll be hoping for a trip to France next summer, where he might face Ireland's James McClean.

JEFF ASTLE (England, 1970)
Never let the myth get in the way of the truth. Legend has it that Astle's miss for England against Brazil was vital. It wasn't. It was totally unimportant. But, sadly, the last outfield Albion man to represent England in a major tournament is remembered for that, not his otherwise decent contribution in that game, nor his hat-trick in a 4-1 B international against Ecuador that got him into the squad in the first place.

BERNT HAAS (Switzerland, 2004)
England vs Switzerland is remembered for Wayne Rooney becoming the youngest-ever goalscorer in the history of the European Championships (a 3-0 victory if you're asking). Or so you thought. It was also the game in which Albion right-back and part-time male model Bernt Haas found himself filling the bath half-an-hour earlier than his team-mates following two yellow cards picked up during a mad five minute spell, leaving Hansen and co back in the studio totally lost for words. 

Perhaps Albion's most-successful World Cup man and our record international cap holder until Zoltan Gera, Chris Brunt and James Morrison surpassed him in more recent years. Williams was part of the Wales' party that made the 1958 World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals against Brazil where he faced some 17-year-old called Pele. Brazil won.

Until next week...

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