Keen-eyed readers will notice that the question does not ask ‘Which three England football captains have played for Scunthorpe United?’ and that is not without good reason. The three England captains who have played for ‘The Iron’ are, in fact, the late Ray Clemence, Kevin Keegan and Baron Botham.
Clemence captained the English national team just once, during a friendly against Brazil at Wembley Stadium on May 12, 1985, which the Three Lions lost 1-0. Nevertheless, like Keegan, he began his senior professional career at Scunthorpe United, signing professional forms on August 5, 1965, and went on to make 48 league appearances for the club before departing for Anfield on June 24, 1967.
On September 16, 1968, Keegan made his senior professional debut for Scunthorpe United, at the age of 17, in Football League Division Four against Peterborough United at London Road. Despite his tender years, he quickly became a mainstay of the first team, making 124 league appearances for the club, and scoring 18 goals, before being bought, for £33,000, by Liverpool manager Bill Shankly in 1971. As far as the English national team was concerned, Keegan succeeded the injured Gerry Francis as captain in 1976, under Don Revie, and captained the side on 31 occasions.
Back in the days when he was just plain ‘Ian’, Baron Botham was one of the greatest all-rounders in cricket history. He succeeded Mike Brearley as captain of the English cricket team in 1980 and retained the captaincy for 12 Test matches, nine of which were against the West Indies, without ever winning one. An unsuccessful England captain he may have been, but, having made 11 league appearances for Scunthorpe United, at centre-half, between 1979 and 1985, he certainly qualifies as one of the answers to this tricky question.