From Foley to Walcott: The biggest shock callups for major tournaments

As Euro 2016's squad deadline approaches, we look at some past surprises

Theo Walcott, ENgland

England's fresh-faced young Theo Walcott applies sun tan lotion prior to kick off against Paraguay in the 2006 World Cup. Picture by: Mike Egerton / EMPICS Sport

In less than 48 hours' time, Martin O'Neill will have submitted the names of the lucky 23 players who will represent us at Euro 2016.

For Ireland, we're not expecting any major surprises in the squad this time.

But many other major squad announcements have included some big surprises with our neighbours England having their fair share of eyebrow-raising selections.

Kevin Foley

Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland squad for Euro 2012 had a few omissions that were criticised but the one that earned plenty of headlines was the dropping of right-back Kevin Foley.

Initially included, the then-Wolves player was working his way back to fitness after hamstring trouble when he was informed that he would be left out of the final 23, with Paul McShane coming in instead. 

"It is hard to take. I don't want to go into too much detail. I just feel betrayed," was Foley's reaction to being dropped, as it came as a surprise to him.

But Trap reasoned that he needed the extra central defensive cover that the more versatile McShane could provide.

Theo Walcott

He's only 27 but it feels like he has been around forever. And in some ways, the Arsenal winger has been around for a very long time.

Signed by Arsenal from Southampton as a 16-year-old in January 2006, he was expected to be one for the future for club and country.

But then-England manager Sven Goran Eriksson shocked the fans, the tabloids and the world when he called him up to the 2006 World Cup squad, despite the teenager never having played in the Premier League and barely having played any senior football at any level.

England national soccer team manager Sven Goran Eriksson speaks as he stands in front of a screen bearing the name of his preliminary squad for the 2006 World Cup in London, Monday May 8, 2006. Eriksson named Arsenal's Theo Walcott - a teenage striker who has never played in a Premier League game - and both Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen in his provisional World Cup squad on Monday, as well as several other players who've barely kicked a ball in the last few months. (AP Photo/Tom Hevezi)

In the end, Walcott travelled to Germany for the World Cup almost as a tourist, given that he saw no on-field action.

It was viewed as more of a way to give the player experience of what major tournaments are like before his own peak years.

But as it happens, he won't be going to Euro 2016 and has only played at one major tournament, where he score once at Euro 2012. So much for the 2006 experience, eh?

As Walcott later admitted to The Mirror, it all came too soon:  "I was thrown into the limelight straight away having not even played a Premier League game and suddenly you are surrounded by these top-quality players and you are thinking, 'Do I deserve to be here?'"

 Paul Gascoigne

Twenty years ago, Gazza was scoring a wonder goal for England as Euro 96 rolled on to the soundtrack of Three Lions.

Two years later, an updated version of Three Lions was brought out for the 1998 World Cup but Gascoigne wouldn't be going to France with Glenn Hoddle's squad.

A week before the squad was due to be named, Gazza who had been a regular for Hoddle in the qualification campaign, was pictured by the tabloids enjoying a kebab on a night out with TV presenter and radio DJ Chris Evans at a time when there was a debate about his fitness.

Hoddle had warned that "he's picked up too many injuries. Since Rome he hasn't played for us and we've won games and done well without him".

Ultimately, Gazza didn't do enough to convince the manager that he deserved his place and the story of his reaction to his omission has gone down in folklore.

He flew into a rage, smashing the objects in his wake in the Spanish hotel room, with Hoddle describing it: "He had snapped. He was ranting, swearing and slurring his words. He was acting like a man possessed".

Karim Benzema

This time the sex tape blackmail scandal surrounding the Real Madrid striker is a good reason to let him stay at home during 2016 - well, in the sense that he can't play for France on home soil during 2016.

But back in 2010, then-France head coach Raymond Domenech left him out of the World Cup squad despite him being an emerging talent and already at Real Madrid.

Although he was caught up in another sex scandal in the lead-up to that tournament along with Franck Ribery, it was the player's club form that was cited by Domenech as a reason for exluding him. 

That 2010 World Cup ended up being a disaster as France's players infamously threatened to go on strike.

Landon Donovan

The face of United States soccer post-2000, Jurgen Klinsmann felt the forward didn't deserve his place in his squad for World Cup 2014, despite his vast experience.

That earned the manager criticism from some pundits, although USA did reach the knockout stage which reduced the rancour.

But in hindsight, Donovan was a little less angry on reflection a few months on: "I had the opportunity to feel what other players have felt in my career. A lot of times when I made a team I was so happy for me that I forgot about the guy who got cut, so for the first time it kind of put that in front of my face."

David Odonkor

Germany had their own Theo Walcott type player in their squad for 2006 on home soil.

Pacey and direct, Odonkor was a surprise inclusion on home soil as Klinsmann - Germany manager at the time - sprung a shock by including the winger, making his full debut just before the World Cup.

But unlike Walcott, he had a chance to contribute, setting up Oliver Neuville's winner against Poland in the group stages.