There was a time in football when playing for England was a tremendous honour and one that was greatly appreciated by those given the call. International recognition is no longer the highest accolade for the footballers in this country, with many happy to turn the back on their nation. Where did it all go wrong and how has this problem manifested itself?
Player power is rife in most levels of the game, however I fear International level sees it at its very worst. You obviously have your rare breeds like the Beckhams and Gerrards of this world who would do anything for their country, but ultimately the England scene doesn’t appear as attractive as once was. Does the modern player think so highly of himself that he calls time on International football simply because the manager chooses someone else above them in the pecking order, as we have witnessed in recent years? It is just ridiculous and shows how much standards and respect of their profession has died.
Maybe I am wrong in this instance and should look at it with the outlook as to how the England manager may have contributed to the cheapening of this honour. It raises an interesting point as to how players could look upon representing his country with great pride, especially when the likes of Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson used to give out first caps like confetti, based on simply a handful of good performances. With the greatest respect to the likes of Jake Livermore and Raheem Sterling – are they really worthy of an England call up just yet, especially when the former is not even a regular in the starting line-up at club level. Carl Jenkinson has put a handful of solid performances and I’m sure had he been given international clearance then Hodgson wouldn’t have hesitated in calling him up. It is an absolute joke and a clear sign as to how we struggle as a nation, fielding players that have barely played 25 games at club level. Sir Bobby Robson took 2 years to nurture Paul Gascoigne into the International fold before making him a regular – highlighting how much it has changed.
It is a sad state of affairs and arguably why the majority of supporters put out a collective groan when International week comes along, but can the honour of representing England ever exist again in this country? Has it been damaged beyond repair? I for one fear the horse has well and truly bolted, although I can’t actually put my finger as to where it all went wrong with the Three Lions. Maybe it needs a manager with a bit of passion and drive to restore some pride – something I fear the England management team has lacked for some time.