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Ask Norman

Ask Norman: Squad lists and stoppers

June 30, 2010
By Norman Hubbard

Norman Hubbard is Soccernet's resident anorak. If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to and he'll try to answer as many as possible. This is the last column devoted solely to the World Cup, so feel free to send in any footballing questions for the next one.

I have a question about England keepers. David James was part of Portsmouth's relegated squad last season. Has that happened before when the national's team's first-choice keeper is from a relegated team from their country's top league? asked Ryan from Singapore.

David James
GettyImagesDavid James suffered relegation and cup final heartache with Portsmouth last season

It has never happened for England before, but it may interest you that they have once gone into a World Cup with a second-division goalkeeper as their first choice: Birmingham's Gil Merrick, who died earlier this year, in 1954, and only one England keeper - David Seaman - has gone into a World Cup as a title winner.

The full list is: 1950 - Bert Williams (Wolves, 2nd that season) 1954 - Gil Merrick (Birmingham, 7th, Division 2) 1958 - Colin McDonald (Burnley, 6th) 1962 - Ron Springett (Sheffield Wednesday, 6th) 1966 - Gordon Banks (Leicester, 7th) 1970 - Gordon Banks (Stoke, 9th) 1982 - Peter Shilton (Southampton, 7th) 1986 - Peter Shilton (Southampton, 14th) 1990 - Peter Shilton (Derby, 16th) 1998 - David Seaman (Arsenal, 1st) 2002 - David Seaman (Arsenal, 1st) 2006 - Paul Robinson (Tottenham, 5th)

But in terms of relegated first-choice goalkeepers, there is a World Cup winner, albeit on a technicality. Gianluigi Buffon was part of a Juventus team that celebrated winning 91 points and Serie A before being demoted in the calciopoli scandal. The Italy captain, Fabio Cannavaro, was another Juve player, along with Gianluca Zambrotta, Mauro Camoranesi and Alessandro del Piero, who all appeared in the final.

I'm struggling to find any other first-choice goalkeepers relegated from their national league in World Cup year, so if any readers know of any, please let me know and I'll include it in the next column.

However, Lee Woon-Jae, who was expected to be South Korea's No.1 but spent the tournament on the bench, plays for Suwon Bluewings who, at the time of writing, are bottom of the K-League. In addition, the Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar was relegated in a different league this season, in Spain with Valladolid.

I understand that prior to naming the final 23-man World Cup squad, each team is supposed to have a provisional 30-man squad list. Why is FIFA so adamant about that? I read that Brazil's coach already had his final 23 in mind, so essentially the time of seven men were unnecessarily wasted. What is FIFA's official stance on this? asked Kelvin from Singapore.

This is more interesting than I expected it to be. According to the ever-exciting Article 26 of the regulations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup: "Each association that qualifies for the final competition shall send FIFA a list of 35 players (showing the full last name(s), all first names, popular name, place and date of birth, passport number, club and country of the club, height, weight, number of caps won, number of goals scored) whom it has called up in accordance with the relevant provisions of Annex 1 of the FIFA Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players. The provisional list of 35 players must be sent to FIFA at least 30 days prior to the kick-off of the opening match." As you may have noticed, FIFA initially ordered a 35-man provisional squad before changing its mind and asking for 30 by May 11 (30 days before the competition began).

However, FIFA added: "This final list is not limited to the players on the provisional list." In other words, someone outside the initial 30/35 could be called up. One explanation could be that for reasons of form and fitness, not all managers would be happy to name their squads as early as Dunga chose his. But because of injuries, other men outside the chosen 23, such as England's Michael Dawson, have been called in, so they may argue their time was not wasted.

I notice that for this World Cup, and the last as well, the South Koreans have their given names rather than their surnames on the back of their shirts, as is apparently the norm for everyone else. For example Park-Ji Sung had J. S. Park on the back of his shirt in 2002, but for the last two finals the back of his shirt has read Jisung. Same for the rest of the South Korean players: Youngpyo, Junghwan, Sungryong etc. Does FIFA have any ruling about the name to be displayed on the back of a jersey? If I'm not wrong, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink once tried to wear Jimmy on his shirt when he was at Leeds United, but the league would not allow it, Simon from Singapore

Park Ji-Sung south korea
GettyImagesLike many, Park Ji-Sung (or is it Ji-Sung Park?) does not have his official surname on his shirt

An answer of sorts is contained in Article 26, quoted just above, where it refers to "full last name(s), all first names and popular name". The last is perhaps the most significant. For instance, Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite's popular name is Kaka and Robson de Souza's is Robinho. In the case of the South Koreans, then, it appears to be the case that they have decided Jisung counts as the popular name instead of J.S.Park. It is also worth noting that Kevin-Prince Boateng, who has always had the latter on his shirt in English domestic football, has appeared for Ghana with Prince on his back.

In terms of the Premier League, their rules state: "When playing in league matches each player shall wear a shirt on the back of which shall be prominently displayed his shirt number and above that his surname or such other name as may be approved in writing by the board." Hence Hasselbaink could not be Jimmy without board approval. South Americans tend to cause confusion, however: Robinho did not run out with da Souza on his back; Newcastle's Argentinian winger managed to have Jonas rather than Gutierrez on his shirt and Birmingham's Christian Benitez seemed permitted to use his nickname, Chucho, instead of his surname. To further complicate matters, the rules seem rather more lax in Spain. Steve McManaman noted when he moved to La Liga that his Real Madrid team-mate Jose María Gutierrez Hernandez could deem himself Guti, whereas the Premier League would not allow McManaman to be simply Macca.

Which countries are the most consistently unsuccessful in the World Cup? asked Peter from Los Angeles

That unfortunate distinction belongs to Scotland, who have taken part in eight World Cups without getting beyond the group stage, an unwanted record.

But the Scots have won games at the World Cup finals - most memorably against Holland in 1978 - unlike the nine countries who have a 100% record, losing each of their matches. They are: Iraq, Togo, Canada, Dutch East Indies, United Arab Emirates, China, Haiti, Zaire and El Salvador. El Salvador, with six defeats, have lost more games than any other side who are yet to get a point. The Dutch East Indies - as Indonesia was known then - merit a particular mention. They travelled all the way to France for the 1938 World Cup, played one match - a 6-0 defeat to Hungary - and returned home. It remains their only match at a World Cup finals. Three others, New Zealand, Slovenia and Greece, began the current tournament having lost all their previous World Cup matches, but all picked up their first points in South Africa.