Donning the national jersey is a privilege not many footballers have had.

Almost all athletes dream about representing their country at least once. The same is the case for footballers. All footballers want to represent their country and many consider representing their country as one of the peak moments of their careers. The feeling of pride in having your country’s crest on your shirt is believed to be unprecedented.

However, not all footballers get to play for their country. Some footballers despite playing for some of the best clubs in the world fail to play for their country. The reasons may vary, sometimes the player might lack the quality, while other times the manager could be looking for something else from his players. Here is a look at the top 10 players who have not played international football.

Mauro Zarate

Mauro Zarate has played around the world despite never having represented his country Argentina. The forward has represented the likes of Lazio, Inter Milan, and West Ham amongst many others. Zarate also won the Coppa Italia with Lazio during his loan spell in 2008-2009. The former Inter Milan player has represented Argentina at the U-20 level and also scored the winner in the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2007. However, he failed to make it to the first time as he had to compete with the likes of Lavezzi, Di Maria and Argentina’s star-studded attack for a place in the team.

Steed Malbranque

Steed Malbranque spent the majority of his career playing in the Premier League and Ligue 1. A skilful winger who has played for the likes of Lyon, Fulham, Tottenham, and Sunderland amongst others, Malbranque surprisingly never made it to the French national team.  The Frenchman was an integral part of Fulham’s attacking approach that made them famous in the early 2000s. Malbranque even got a chance to represent Belgium during his time with Fulham but the winger turned it down in hopes of a future call-up from France.

Stefan Klos

Stefan Klos’ entire career was spent playing for two of the biggest clubs in Europe, Borussia Dortmund and Rangers. He was the first-choice goalkeeper for Dortmund between 1990 and 1998. Klos was the goalkeeper for Dortmund when they beat Juventus 3-1 to win the Champions League in 1997. Despite all this Klos never made an appearance for the German Senior team. This was because he had to compete for a place with the likes of Illgner, Kopke and Kahn throughout his career all of whom were very successful as Germany’s goalkeeper. Klos has represented Germany at the U-21 and U-23 levels.

Dario Hubner

Dario Hubner has over 300 goals in his entire career scored across three different divisions of Italian football. The striker known for his goal-poaching abilities spent the early part of his career in the lower divisions. Hubner moved to the Serie A in his thirties but made an immediate impact. The forward was the top scorer in Serie A in the 2001-02 season, a feat he achieved at the age of 35.

Paolo Cannavaro

Paolo Cannavaro has played for the likes of Napoli, Parma and Sassuolo in a career that spanned close to 20 years. However Paolo, the younger brother of Fabio Cannavaro, never made it to the Italian senior team. This is mainly because Italy is known to create some of the best defenders in the world as Fabio is a prime example. Even then Paolo had a very impressive career and has also represented Italy at five different youth levels.

Thorsten Fink

Thorsten Fink started his career by helping Wattenscheid gain promotion into the Bundesliga for their first and only stint. Fink made a move to Bayern Munich later in his career and went on to win four Bundesligas and also the Champions League. Fink was one of the players of that era who have not played international football for the German national team in spite of the fact that the German team of that time wasn’t the strongest which was evident in the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championships.  

Also Read: Top 10 players with most appearances in football history

Mikel Arteta

The current Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta is a product of Barcelona’s famous youth academy La Masia. Arteta in his career has played for the likes of PSG, Rangers, Everton and Arsenal. The Spaniard was very technically gifted and had great vision. However, his peak was between 2008 and 2012, an era which saw Spain dominate the footballing world with a midfield that consisted of the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, and Fabregas among others. Arteta represented Spain at many junior levels but could never make it to the senior team.


Gabriel Fernandez Arenas, popularly known as Gabi is considered to be an Atletico Madrid legend. The midfielder started in Atleti’s youth academy and made his senior team debut at the age of 20. Gabi joined Zaragoza in 2007 before returning to Atletico Madrid in 2011. This is where the success in his career started, as Gabi and Atletico Madrid went on to win many trophies under manager Diego Simeone. Gabi’s reasons for missing out on playing for Spain are the same as Arteta’s. Spain already had a very successful world-class midfield.

Paolo di Canio

Paolo di Canio has over 500 league appearances and more than 100 goals to his name. The forward has played for clubs like Lazio, Juventus, Napoli, Milan and Celtic. But it is his stint with West Ham in the Premier League that he is most remembered for. Di Canio has many accolades to his name and also won the UEFA Cup with Juventus in 1993. The forward has always been a controversial character throughout his career and despite having represented Italy in U-21 and also having played for the B team, Di Canio never made it to the first team.

Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce has to be one of the best players to have not played international football for his country. The former Manchester United defender has made more than 700 league appearances and won 14 titles. He along with Gary Pallister made up one of the best centre-back pairings in the Premier League that dominated the league in the 90s. Bruce went on to become Manchester United captain and won three Premier League titles with them. Despite having such an illustrious career Bruce never got to play for England, representing only the youth team and the B team.

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