The biggest event in world football is less than 24 hours 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 tomorrow, 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 are having a look at some of them.
On Monday we looked at six players that were part of England squads at World Cups and yesterday it was those that have represented other home nations in the tournament and also played for Brentford that were in the spotlight. Today we will find 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 and they will be explored tomorrow.
Seven players have been discovered that have been involved in World Cups either before or after they were under contract at Griffin Park. And that figure will rise to eight in the next few days. Ólafur Ingi Skúlason is in the Iceland squad for the tournament. The midfield player, now 35, had earned 36 caps for his country and was part of the Brentford squad from 2005 until 2007, although a serious knee injury hindered his Brentford career.
The other seven players with Brentford links that have been involved in the World Cup from countries outside the home nations are drawn from just four international sides. Republic of Ireland provide the largest number of those – three. Chris Hughton and Gerry Peyton were part of the Ireland squad in the 1990 World Cup. Neither played as Ireland reached the last eight and both were at Brentford together a few years later. Hughton joined from West Ham United in 1992 and played for The Bees for just over a year before retiring. Peyton joined on loan from Everton during the 1992/93 season before making the switch permanent towards the end of that season.
The other Irish World Cup player with Brentford connections is Clinton Morrison. The striker spent the end of the 2011/12 season at Griffin Park on loan from Sheffield Wednesday. That came ten years after he was part of the Ireland squad for the 2002 World Cup. He did not play in any of Ireland’s four games.
Another striker with Brentford connections that was part of a World Cup squad was Efan Ekoku. He was in the Nigeria squad in 1994 but, again, did not play as they lost in the Second Round. Ekoku spent the end of the 2002/03 season contracted to Brentford but did not play for The Bees.
The next man on the list has both a playing and coaching connection to the World Cup. Brian Turner was in the New Zealand squad that reached the 1982 World Cup, their first appearance at the tournament. He was then in the coaching staff as they went back for the second time in 2010. New Zealand did not win a game on either occasion. Turner spent two and a half seasons at Brentford in the early 1970s.
Two men who did make an impact both at Brentford and the World Cup are the last on the list. Marcus Gayle and Deon Burton were in the Jamaica squad for the 1998 tournament in France. Burton played three games and Gayle one as Jamaica finished third in their group. Burton spent the 2004/05 season with The Bees while Gayle is one of the Club’s most famous faces. He came through the youth ranks at Griffin Park and stayed for six years. He returned in the twilight of his career and is now part of the Club’s matchday commentary team. Gayle was inducted in to the Brentford FC Hall of Fame in 2014.