From England squad to Hamburg's fringes
18 November ~ In November 2008, Fabio Capello called up a surprise name for England's friendly with Germany. Michael Mancienne hadn't even played for Chelsea's first team but he had a growing reputation. Five years on and Mancienne will be an interested spectator at that same international fixture. The 25-year-old came to Hamburg two years ago, on the advice of former Chelsea director of football Frank Arnesen, after five years away from Stamford Bridge on loan. Mancienne's early promise produced only six first-team appearances so he went in search of more.
In October 2006, QPR manager John Gregory told supporters they would get the chance to witness one of England's brightest talents in action. The month loan grew into a two-year stay. Shortly after his return to Chelsea in May 2008, Brazilian World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari came in as manager but still Mancienne found opportunities hard to come by and went out on loan again to Wolves, then in the Championship. A month into his spell at Molineux, he was named in Capello's squad to face Germany in Berlin.
The call-up surprised everyone – including the Germans. Team manager Oliver Bierhoff concluded that Premier League sides should promote their young English talent more; that Capello had to drop into the second tier to find Mancienne was his key example. In Berlin, Mancinne remained on the bench as John Terry's late winner sealed an England victory. He returned to England and picked up where he had left off with Wolves who were heading for the Premier League.
In 2009-10, Mancienne helped the club to Premier League survival and Wolves offered £3 million to make to move permanent but Chelsea wanted £5m. Newcastle United and others looked but didn't make an offer. So, as in the previous four seasons, he disappeared on loan and back to Molineux for a third time. Another summer of change at Chelsea followed and finally, in 2011, Mancienne was allowed to leave. He departed for Hamburg for around £1.75m, joining up with Arnesen.
Only a month after Mancienne's debut, manager Michael Oenning was sacked with the team hanging precariously over the relegation zone. Thorsten Fink came in and kept Hamburg up, with Mancienne making 16 appearances. He played 21 games in 2012-13 but with the club struggling financially, he was one of five players put up for transfer last summer. Those in England who remembered him made enquiries and Hamburg reportedly accepted offers from Turkey but he was adamant that the Bundesliga was where he wanted to be, with two years to go on his contract.
In fact, Fink went first when he was sacked after a miserable start culminating in a 6-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund. The man who led Holland to the World Cup final in 2010, Bert van Marwijk, replaced him. And with his appointment there came a reprieve of sorts for Mancienne. He is back with the first team but remains an unused substitute so far this season. As a teenager, Mancienne once said if he hadn't played for England by the age of 25 he might just accept an offer to play for the Seychelles, for whom he qualifies through family background. Now that time has come and he might just return their call. Alex Gulrajani @alexgulrajani