Jordan Henderson has been a great servant for the England team and has been capped 79 times over more than a decade playing for the Three Lions. And yet, when the 33-year-old appeared for England against Australia on Friday 13th October, he was booed … and not by the Aussie supporters, but by England fans.
After the game, Henderson said he didn’t know why he was booed, but clearly it was related to his move to Saudi club Al-Ettifaq and the gigantic pay packet that comes with it. His England boss, Gareth Southgate, suggested that “it defies logic” to boo your own player, but then England fans have a history of booing their own, whether the reason is logical or not. Here are some of the other players who have suffered at the vocal cords of the England boo boys.
Another apparent England stalwart who has been booed by England fans is Harry McGuire. The reason was apparently that he had not been playing well enough for his club (Manchester United) to deserve a place in the starting line-up against Ivory Coast in March 2022. The boo boys seemed to have a short memory given McGuire had been one of England’s most consistent performers in the previous years.
He shrugged off the apparent criticism, however, and ended up being one of the best defenders at the 2022 World Cup and was even selected alongside Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe in the Sky Sports World Cup team of the tournament!
David Beckham had something of a love-hate-love relationship with England fans over the course of his career. One of the most committed England players who ever donned the Three Lions shirt, he appeared 115 times for his country in an international career that stretched from 1996 to 2009. But it was relatively early on, at the World Cup in 1998, that Beckham upset the England (semi)faithful when he got sent off against Argentina in the Round of 16 clash.
Becks was given his marching orders for an impetuous kick on Diego Simeone – who made a meal of it, to say the least! And the British press, never renowned for their even-handed approach to such things, whipped up a frenzy of vilification against Beckham. This resulted in his getting booed during his next few England appearances. But he eventually earned the respect of the fans through his undoubted commitment to the England cause and a few very nice goals!
Watford and Liverpool legend, John Barnes, was an occasional target of the England boo boys during an international career that ran from 1983 to 1995. Although fans can be (almost) forgiven for showing their frustrations when their side is losing, the occasion when Barnes took the most flak was actually a game that England won 6-0! Okay, the opponent was San Marino, and England were expected to wallop them and they were only 2-0 up at half time. For whatever reason, sections of the Wembley crowd decided Barnes was the man responsible for England’s inability to bang in the goals.
It didn’t affect Barnes too badly though as he scored in the second minute of his very next England game at Wembley (against Netherlands). But things didn’t end too well for that England side (managed by Graham Taylor) as they failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup!
Although sometimes the reason for players getting booed is not exactly obvious, in the case of Chelsea legend, John Terry, it was. There had been numerous stories in the press alleging Terry had had an affair with the ex-girlfriend of Chelsea teammate, Wayne Bridge. For some of the England fans this crossed the line into the domain of ‘unacceptable behaviour’ and they made their feelings known when Terry appeared for England against Egypt in 2010.
There has rarely been a more affable England player than Peter Crouch, but he was targeted for booing in 2005 when he came on as a substitute during England’s World Cup qualifying match against Poland. The reason was similar to that of McGuire: he hadn’t been playing brilliantly for his club side. In Crouch’s case, he’d been on quite a goal drought for Liverpool and hadn’t notched for almost 20 games.
Although Crouch wasn’t appreciated at that point by England fans, he managed to win them over the following year when he scored 11 goals in just 12 games for the Three Lions. But what really endeared him to the fans was when he scored a hat-trick against Jamaica at Old Trafford on the eve of the 2006 World Cup and pulled out a fantastically inventive goal celebration.
Wayne Rooney (and the Whole England Team)
Even the true greats of English football can be on the receiving end of the boo boys at times. Wayne Rooney had scored 25 goals for England by the time the 2010 World Cup rolled around (of his eventual total of 53). But that didn’t stop England fans from showing their distinct displeasure when the Three Lions failed to roar in South Africa. The lowest point for England (and loudest boos from the fans) came as Fabio Capello’s men limped to an appallingly dour 0-0 draw against relative minnows Algeria in their Group C clash in Cape Town.
As Rooney trudged off the field, he turned to the camera and instead of uttering some humble words of apology for such a rubbish performance, he decided to sarcastically praise his own fans for their booing. As you might imagine, that didn’t go down particularly well with England fans or in the press, but he issued an apology and went on to become England’s all-time leading goalscorer (until Kane nabbed that record). Still, England didn’t get much better at that World Cup and after finishing second in the group behind USA, they got battered 4-1 by Germany in the Round of 16. At least it wasn’t penalties!