Since opening its doors for the first time in 1887 to what was then Bedminster FC, Ashton Gate Stadium has hosted some of the very best players in world football, with Kevin De Bruyne, Luis Suarez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Sergio Aguero some of the finest to have graced its turf in recent years.
However, with Wayne Rooney bringing his Derby County side to the West Country’s largest sporting arena on Saturday, that got us wondering. Who are the best England players to have played at the home of Bristol City?
Indeed, the Three Lions all-time top goalscorer will be part of an interim coaching team at the weekend, following the recent sacking of manager Phillip Cocu.
Rooney took to the playing surface in BS3 for the first time last February as the Robins came out 3-2 victors against the Rams, but which other England legends have featured at the Gate? Here’s our top five that have, but since 1980 for record purposes.
Whilst the versatile forward is arguably best known for his spells at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, he did of course come through the ranks at Millwall, of whom he made his sole career trip to Ashton Gate with, in April 1991.
Indeed the Second Division clash, which the visitors Milwall won 4-1, took place in Sheringham’s last season with the Lions before he made the move to Nottingham Forest.
It’s fair to say that the then 25-year-old would have made an impression on the Robins faithful that day as he scored a hattrick, with all three goals consisting of typical close-range finishes.
That final season with the London club proved to be the most fruitful of Sheringham’s glittering career, netting an impressive 33 goals in 46 league appearances.
The Premier League’s record-goalscorer has indeed played on the Ashton Gate pitch, where unsurprisingly, he scored.
Aged 21 at the time, Shearer was beginning to make a name for himself in the top flight when he made the trip to the West Country with Southampton, who defeated City 2-1 in the first round of the Full Members Cup. Under Ian Branfoot, they went on to reach the final, where they were beaten by Nottingham Forest.
Bristol City had taken the lead through Bob Taylor, of course, only for a spritely Shearer to level the scores. Another English legend in the making, a 23-year-old Matt Le Tissier, bagged the winner for the Saints six minutes from time.
The match took place in Shearer’s final season with the South Coast club, before he made a record-breaking move to Blackburn Rovers, which of course culminated in a Premier League winners medal three years later.
Whilst he may not have been born in England, John Barnes went on to have a stellar career in a Three Lions shirt, scoring 11 goals in 79 appearances for the national team.
However, his encounters with Bristol City will provoke less positive memories for the former winger, who was, of course, part of the Liverpool team that fell to a two-legged FA Cup defeat against the Robins in January 1994.
Jamaican-born Barnes started both legs, with the first being a 1-1 draw at Ashton Gate, as Wayne Allison cancelled out Ian Rush’s opener to force the replay.
Then up stepped Brian Tinnion to score one of the most memorable goals in Bristol City history, as Russell Osman’s side knocked out a Liverpool team consisting of the likes of Barnes, Neil Ruddock, Nigel Clough, Jamie Redknapp, and Steve McManaman, which proved to be the final straw for then-boss Graeme Souness.
It wouldn’t be right to not include a former Bristol City player that went on to represent England, and whilst John Atyeo may have seemed the obvious choice to many, the post-1980 theme means we have gone for lethal striker Andy Cole.
Although it could be argued that for all his brilliance at club level, Cole flattered to deceive on the international stage, scoring just once in 15 appearances for the Three Lions. However, that statistic mustn’t undermine his brilliance as an old-school striker, something that Robins supporters know all too well.
Following an impressive loan spell in 1992, then City boss Dennis Smith moved quickly to bring in Cole for a club-record fee of £500,000.
The then 21-year-old became one of the hottest prospects in English football during the 1992-93 season, which culminated in a £1.75million move to Newcastle United.
Cole departed Ashton Gate with an overall record of 20 goals in 41 appearances for the club.
Tragically passing away this weekend, Ray Clemence is our final England legend to have graced the Ashton Gate pitch.
One of only 29 players to have made over 1,000 professional career appearances, the former Liverpool keeper played 61 times for his country, and visited Ashton Gate in March 1980, as the Merseyside club triumphed 3-1 over City with a certain Kenny Dalglish netting twice.
This fixture took place during the Robins spell in Division One, a competition which Clemence won five times with Liverpool.
On top of this, he collected a League Cup, three European Cups, three UEFA Cups, and two FA Cups during his glittering 23-year playing career.
Written by Jack Dosson