The biggest event in world football is just a few days away and Brentford history may be made. Henrik Dalsgaard is on the verge of becoming the first player contracted to Brentford FC to play at a World Cup after being named in the Denmark squad for the tournament. The 2018 FIFA World Cup will kick-off in Russia as the hosts start the tournament against Saudi Arabia on Thursday 14 June and Henrik’s historic moment could come on Saturday, 16 June, when Denmark face Peru.
But Henrik won’t be the first man with Brentford links to appear in the tournament. There have been more than a dozen players and managers to have featured in a World Cup in some way shape or form that have either been employed at Griffin Park before or after their momentous appearance. With thanks to Jonathan Burchill for his research, we will have a look at some of them over the next four days.
First up are six players that were part of England squads at World Cups. Later this week there will be a look at players that have represented other home nations at a World Cup and also played for Brentford and then players that have been involved in the competition for other nations. There are also those for whom their link to either Brentford or the World Cup is managerial.
The six players to have been named in an England squad for a World Cup with Brentford playing links are Peter Broadbent, Bill Slater, Graham Rix, Kenny Sansom, Les Ferdinand and Paul Merson. Ferdinand was in the England squad in 1998 but never actually got on to the pitch and his three Brentford games on loan from Queens Park Rangers in 1988 make his link the least celebrated.
At the other end of the scale, Sansom appeared for England in two World Cups. He played nine games for England in 1982 and 1986 and helped The Three Lions reach the Second Group Stage and then the Quarter Finals. Sansom, who spent the end of the 1992/93 season at Griffin Park, is the only man to have played for Brentford and played in two World Cups.
One of Sansom’s team mates in 1982 was Graham Rix. He had a spell on loan at Brentford from Arsenal in the 1987/88 season and played five games in 1982. Merson, another Arsenal loanee, was in the squad in 1998, like Ferdinand. But Merson did get on the pitch, in the Second Round tie against Argentina. He also scored in the penalty shoot-out that England, as is traditional, lost.
The other two England players with Brentford links – Broadbent and Slater – are from the earlier World Cup years. Both went to the tournament in Sweden in 1958 and were part of a group that drew three group games. England then lost a Play-Off to the USSR and were eliminated at the first stage. Broadbent, who started his career at Brentford, played just one game but Slater, who had two spells with The Bees, played all four games. Both Broadbent, pictured above with former England Manager Walter Winterbottom, and Slater are better known for their time at Wolverhampton Wanderers.