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World Cup Dons

A look at those with ties to MK Dons who have been to a World Cup, including five who were involved in 1998...

16 November 2022

With the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicking-off in Qatar this weekend, mkdons.com has taken a look at those men associated with MK Dons who have represented their country at a World Cup...

Matt Smith
While Matt Smith has not - YET - played at a FIFA World Cup, he is the first active MK Dons player to be called up to represent his country at the tournement.

Smith is a part of Wales' 26-man squad for this summer's World Cup in Qatar - Wales' first appearance at a World Cup since 1958.

Wales reached the quarter-finals that year and the MK Dons midfielder will be hoping to help his nation match, if not better, that achievement over the coming weeks.

Ike Ugbo
Similar to Matt Smith, Ike Ugbo has not yet played at a FIFA World Cup but is a member of the Canada squad at this winter's tournament.

Ugbo, while on the books at Chelsea, spent four months on loan at MK Dons during the 2017/18 season, totalling 15 appearances and scoring two goals.

The striker is currently with French side Troyes.

Dele Alli
Dele Alli became the first MK Dons Academy graduate to feature at a World Cup when he was part of England’s squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The midfielder played a key role as Gareth Southgate's men reached the Semi Finals, totalling five appearances.

Dele also found the net in England's 2-0 win over Sweden in the Last 8 - a goal which secured the Three Lions' place in their first FIFA World Cup semi final for 28 years.

Michel Pensee Bilong
Michel Pensee Bilong, a popular figure in Milton Keynes during his time with the Dons in 2004/05, was a member of Cameroon’s 1998 FIFA World Cup side.

The centre-back didn’t appear in the Indomitable Lions’ first two group matches - a draw with Austria and a defeat to Italy - but came into the starting XI for their meeting with Chile.

Pensee Bilong helped Cameroon to a 1-1 draw in Nantes but it wasn’t enough to see them progress past the group stages.

Roberto Di Matteo
Ex-MK Dons boss Roberto Di Matteo played two games for Italy at the 1998 FIFA World Cup - one of five men associated with MK Dons who featured at that tournament.

The defender played in the group matches against Chile and Cameroon, the latter of which resulted in a 3-0 victory. Included in that Cameroon squad was Michel Pensee Bilong, who would go on to have a spell with MK Dons in 2004/05.

Di Matteo’s cameo off the bench against Cameroon proved to be his final international appearance for Italy, who would exit the competition in the quarter finals.

Tore Andre Flo
Tore Andre Flo represented Norway at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, helping reach the Round of 16.

The striker, who spent seven months at Stadium MK during the 2008/09 season, started all three group matches for the Norwegians, who finished second in Group A behind Brazil. Norway beat the eventual runners-up Brazil 2-1 in their final group match, with Flo on the scoresheet in the 2-1 success.

Flo and Norway then faced Italy in the Round of 16 but were beaten 1-0 by the Azzurri, whose squad included Roberto Di Matteo, a Chelsea teammate of his and a man who would be his manager during his time with MK Dons.

John Gorman
Former MK Dons Assistant Manager John Gorman held the same role for England at the 1998 World Cup in France, working under Glenn Hoddle.

Gorman and Hoddle helped guide England through to the knockout stages but they were beaten on penalties by Argentina in the Round of 16 - a game infamously remembered for David Beckham’s red card.

Included in the England squad that summer was midfielder Paul Ince, who would later go on to manage MK Dons.

Dietmar Hamann
Former MK Dons midfielder Dietmar Hamann played in two FIFA World Cups for Germany, reaching the Final in 2002.

His first FIFA World Cup tournament came in France 1998, where he featured four times as Berti Vogts team reached the Quarter Finals before exiting to Croatia.

Four years later, and now an established member of the German side, Hamann helped his national team reach the Final, as they went in pursuit of their fourth title.

The Germans breezed through the group stage before beating Paraguay, United States and South Korea to set up a Final with Brazil.

Hamann started the Final, held at the International Stadium in Yokohama, but he and his team couldn’t overcome a strong Brazil outfit, who won 2-0 on the night thanks to a brace from Ronaldo.

Paul Ince
Paul Ince, who had two spells in charge of MK Dons and led the Club to its first two trophies - played for England at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

Working under the leadership of Glenn Hoddle and former MK Dons Assistant Manager John Gorman, Ince started all four games for the Three Lions, including their Round of 16 tie with Argentina which was decided by a penalty shoot-out.

The former Manchester United and Liverpool man was the second penalty taker to step up but missed from the spot. England would go on to lose 4-3.

Clinton Morrison
Striker Clinton Morrison, who spent time on loan at the Dons, was named in the Republic of Ireland squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Although Morrison didn’t appear in any of Ireland’s matches, he was part of a group which reached the Round of 16 stage after qualifying from a group which included Germany, Cameroon and Saudi Arabia.

Ireland faced Spain in the Round of 16 and, despite taking them to extra-time, were beaten 3-2 in the additional 30 minutes.

Matt Upson
Defender Matt Upson, who played the final season of his career at Stadium MK, was part of England’s squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Upson didn’t feature until the final group game, when he came into the defence to help the Three Lions to a crucial 1-0 victory over Slovenia, which secured their passage through to the knockout stages.

England faced Germany in the Round of 16 and despite Upson getting on the scoresheet with a header, Fabio Capello’s team were beaten 4-1.


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