Frank Onyeka has written his name in to the Brentford FC record books this week. Since Brentford entered the Football League more than a century ago, more than 1,000 players have appeared in our colours. When Frank played for Nigeria on Thursday, 7 October, he became the 50th of them to have won a full international cap while on our books.
Frank’s appearance for Nigeria came in a qualification match for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Frank and Nigeria were beaten by Central African Republic, who scored the winner in injury time. It was Frank’s second cap for his country and his first since joining Brentford in the summer, which meant he joined an elite list.
Brentford players have been involved in international football for longer than The Bees have been a Football League side. Brentford’s first international was Joe Connor, who played twice for the Ireland national football team, which represented the island of Ireland from 1882 until 1950, in 1903. Tommy Shanks also represented Ireland in 1905 and it was then almost 30 years until Dai Hopkins became Brentford’s third international, representing Wales.
Brentford played in the upper echelons of the First Division in the late 1930s and nine players won international honours, including the Club’s only two England internationals to date – Billy Scott and Leslie Smith. Only Dai made a real impact while on Brentford’s books, with his 12 caps remaining a Club Record for more than 50 years.
Archie Macaulay won Scotland honours in 1947 and Jimmy D’Arcy earned caps for Northern Ireland in the early 1950s, but it was then almost 40 years until Brentford’s next, 14th, international player – John Buttigieg of Malta. John signed for Brentford in November 1988 and spent just under three years with The Bees, leaving at the end of the 1990/91 season. In that period, John made 20 international appearances, which was a Club Record for almost 30 years.
Brentford players were selected for their countries throughout the 1990s and 2000s, with former captain Paul Evans becoming our 20th international when he played for Wales in 2002. Ólafur Ingi Skúlason, of Iceland, was our 25th international, with Andreas Bjelland of Denmark number 30 on the list. Two of our most capped players come in at 35 and 36 on the chronological list.
Kamohelo Mokotjo and Henrik Dalsgaard both joined Brentford in 2017 and were part of their international squads while with The Bees. Henrik earned 22 of his 26 Denmark caps while with The Bees, which makes him the Club’s most capped player. He was the first Brentford player to appear in a World Cup, helping Denmark reach the last 16 in Russia in 2018.
Kamohelo played 15 times for South Africa while with Brentford, which puts him third on our most capped list. He, along with Julian Jeanvier for Guinea, played in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. He is one of only a few Brentford players, a list that also includes Mathias Jensen, Christian Nørgaard, Henrik, Marcus Forss and Halil Dervişoğlu, to have appeared in an international tournament.
The list has grown quickly since 2017 with Chris Mepham becoming the first player to come through Brentford B and win international caps. Mathias and Christian played for Denmark in the Semi-Final of the recent UEFA European Championships 2020, delayed until this summer by the Covid-19 pandemic. They are two of 11 current Brentford players that have won international honours while with The Bees, a list that includes captain Pontus Jansson, another Brentford B graduate in Marcus Forss and our 50th international Frank.