SINCE the World Cup started in 1930, a total of 24 players have represented England in the finals while registered with a West Midlands club. Wolves have so far supplied nine, Villa eight, Albion five and Blues two.
The full list reads:
1950: Jimmy Mullen, Bert Williams and Billy Wright (Wolves)
1954: Ken Green and Gil Merrick (Birmingham City), Mullen, Dennis Wilshaw and Wright (Wolves)
1958: Don Howe, Derek Kevan and Bobby Robson (Albion), Peter Broadbent, Eddie Clamp, Bill Slater and Billy Wright (Wolves)
1962: Howe and Robson (Albion), Ron Flowers (Wolves)
1966: Ron Flowers (Wolves)
1970: Jeff Astle (Albion)
1982: Peter Withe (Aston Villa)
1986: Steve Hodge (Aston Villa)
1990: David Platt (Aston Villa), Steve Bull (Wolves)
1998: Gareth Southgate (Aston Villa)
2002: Darius Vassell (Aston Villa)
2010: Emile Heskey, James Milner and Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa)
2014: Ben Foster (Albion)
Over the last 64 years (1950-2014) several England players have represented various West Midland teams during their respective careers, but appeared in the World Cup finals while registered with another club.
These include: 1954 - Harry Hooper; 1962 - Gerry Hitchens; 1966 - Geoff Hurst; 1970 - Allan Clarke, Emlyn Hughes, Geoff Hurst; 1982 - Steve Foster, Trevor Francis, Bryan Robson; 1990 - Dave Beasant, Steve McMahon; 1998 - Darren Anderton, Tim Flowers, Paul Ince, Paul Merson; 2002 - Nicky Butt, David James, Martin Keown, David Seaman; 2006 - Michael Carrick, Scott Carson, Peter Crouch, Stewart Downing; 2010 - Gareth Barry, Joe Hart, Matthew Upson and 2014 Gary Cahill.
Among the many other former England players who have links with West Midlands clubs in various capacities (coaches, managers etc) and who appeared in a World Cup, we have: Billy McGarry (1954), Nobby Stiles (1966), Norman Hunter (1966), Terry Cooper (1970), Joe Corrigan (1982), Glenn Hoddle (1982), Terry McDermott (1982) and Tony Dorigo (1990).
Sir Bobby Robson is the only England player to have appeared in League/Cup football for a West Midlands club and gone on to manage his country.
20 World Cup facts
• Brazil is the only country to have taken part in every World Cup: 1930-2014
• Only one host country has been eliminated at the group stage: South Africa, 2010
• Bora Milutinovic has coached five different countries to the World Cup finals: Mexico 1986, Costa Rica 1990, USA 1994, Nigeria 1998 and China 2002.
• Six countries have remained unbeaten in a World Cup tournament but did not win the trophy: Scotland 1974, Brazil 1978, England 1982, Cameroon 1982, Belgium 1998 and New Zealand 2010.
• Only one man has played in both the World Cup at football AND cricket – Viv Richards for Antigua and West Indies respectively.
• Cameroon striker Roger Milla is the oldest player to appear in the World Cup – aged 42 years and 39 days v. Russia in 1994. He's also the oldest World Cup goalscorer.
• Norman Whiteside is the youngest World Cup player: aged 17 years and 41 days for Northern Ireland v Yugoslavia in 1982.
• The biggest attendance at any World Cup game – or indeed for any other football match in the world – was 199,854 for the 1950 Brazil-Uruguay encounter at The Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janiero.
• England did not concede a goal in their first four games of the 1966 World Cup – drawing 0-0 with Uruguay and beating France 2-0, Mexico 2-0 and Argentina 1-0.
Portugal's Eusebio was the first player to score past Gordon Banks from the penalty spot in the semi-final.
• Only six countries have won the World Cup on home soil: Uruguay 1930, Italy 1934, England 1966, West Germany 1974, Argentina 1978 and France 1998.
• 5-2 is the biggest score in a World Cup final; 1958 when Brazil beat Sweden.
• Juste Fontaine (France) holds the record for most goals scored in a World Cup; netting 13 in Sweden in 1958.
• A record aggregate total of 3,567,415 spectators attended the 52 matches at the 1994 World Cup in the USA. The average at each game was 68,604.
• The most common scoreline in World Cup football is 1-0.
• All of the World Cup matches played in 1930 were staged in the same city – Montevideo, Uruguay.
• The first hat-trick in the World Cup finals was scored by Bertram Patenaude for the USA v Paraguay in July 1930.
• So far 159 players have been sent off in World Cup finals tournaments – the first was Plácido Galindo of Peru, dismissed against Romania in 1930; the last John Heitinga of the Netherlands v South Africa in 2010.
• Oleg Salenko of Russia scored a record five goals against Cameroon in the 1994 tournament.
• Hungary beat El Salvador 10-1 in June 1982 in Elche, Spain – this stands as the biggest scoreline in all tournament finals.
• The 2014 tournament in Brazil will be the 20th World Cup tournament in 84 years.
And finally, a prediction ... My last four for this year's tournament:
Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, England.
Share your memories of local players in past World Cups! Write in or email gjones@black countrybugle.co.uk.