One-time England defender Steven Caulker is set for an unlikely international comeback with Sierra Leone.
The 30-year-old won his only Three Lions’ cap back in 2012 when he started and scored in a 4-2 defeat to Sweden.
However, as that match was just a friendly and not a competitive international he was able to switch allegiances.
Caulker’s father’s family hail from Sierra Leone and he has been included in their 28-man squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Caulker scored on his only appearance for the Three Lions. The former Tottenham man prodded England 2-1 in front before a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired Sweden turned the game on its head.
Which side will win this year’s Africa Cup of Nations? Let us know in the comments section
As well as Spurs, Caulker also played for the likes of Swansea, QPR and Cardiff and had an infamous loan spell at Liverpool.
That came in the second half of the 2015-16 season and Jurgen Klopp recruited Caulker on a loan, with many questioning the move considering he had hardly featured in a similar spell at Southampton earlier in the campaign.
Speaking at the time about the eye-raising deal, Klopp said: “We’ve had to make a decision whether we wanted to get another player for the position (centre-back).
“We looked for Premier League experience because in this short time, you need that experience. We looked for a good header [of the ball] because that’s what we need – and we’ve found it with Steven Caulker.
“He was not in the best situation in Southampton, didn’t play too much, but this is January and we want to have the best solution for us and we are absolutely convinced that Steven is the best solution for us.
“I am looking forward to working with him. He will be here today and then we can start working, so everything is good!”
He would go on to make just three Premier League appearances for Liverpool, all as late cameos from the bench and bizarrely with him sometimes deployed as an emergency striker.
His only start came in an FA Cup against West Ham.
He left England in 2019 to join Dundee before moving to Turkey. He is currently on loan at Gazisehir from Turkish giants Fenerbahçe.
The AFCON will not be his first taste of international tournament football. Whilst at Spurs, Caulker played every game for Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.
He gained a call-up by Sierra Leone in October and attended a training camp. He also played in an unofficial friendly against a Moroccan team of home-based players.
Sierra Leone are set to face defending champions Algeria, Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea in the tournament, which was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Wycombe’s Sullay Kaikai and David Sesay of non-league Wealdstone are also included in the squad as the country prepares for their first taste of the tournament since 1996.