Few can question the ability of Andy Carroll, the Premier League’s new striking sensation, but equally few can defend his personal misdemeanours. With the backing of many big names in football, Carroll looks set to top off his rise to fame by earning himself an England call-up for next Wednesday’s friendly against France. But, with all things considered, should a man with a past as colourful Carroll’s be allowed to represent his country?
A run down, however brief, of Carroll’s injudicious behaviour doesn’t cover him in glory. He has been involved in numerous incidents including night-club brawls, assaulting a woman and breaking the jaw of team-mate Steven Taylor. It has also been well documented that he is currently living with club captain Kevin Nolan until January whilst on bail for assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
I think that the contentious issue of whether or not a player who is currently on bail should be a representative of his country is not lost on Fabio Capello, it wasn’t long ago that he took the captaincy off of John Terry for making the wrong type of headlines. But will necessity rule over morality? After all, Carroll is a very talented player and is exactly the type of player that could be of great benefit to England.
If Capello were to listen to the likes of Sam Allardyce, Joey Barton and Arsene Wenger and select Carroll then he may have to get the approval of the FA first. Reportedly, Carroll must pass the test of an ‘FA Morals Committee’ as Telegraph writer Henry Winter puts it, to deem whether or not he can be considered as a candidate for international selection. At a time when many are calling for footballers to clean up their private lives and provide a role model for youngsters who dream of footballing stardom, would an ‘FA Morals Committee’ be a good idea, or should an international call-up be based purely on ability alone?
England’s white shirts have been tarnished of late with newspaper reports of players acting irresponsibly; however I believe that Andy Carroll’s case stands alone. While the likes of Ashley Cole and John Terry’s behaviour cannot be condoned, unlike Carroll’s assaults, adultery is not illegal and their punishments should not be on a par. If players with records like Carroll’s do play for England then where is the incentive for young players to live properly? Playing professional football is a privilege, don’t forget that, and it is an opinion that Carroll’s former boss Glenn Roeder echoes: “I’d select him but I’m not saying he should play. I’m not certain he’s sending out great signals to young players. If he is picked the signals for me would be ‘I can do what I want it doesn’t matter, as long as I play well I’ve got a chance to play for England’. The standards should be much higher than that.” Despite losing some of its significance over the last few decades, playing for England is still a great individual honour so perhaps depriving offenders of this would encourage footballers to think twice before stepping outside the lines of the law.
Perhaps I am a little old fashioned, but personally I am heartened that the question of his selection is being taken so seriously. Do I think that he should be given a chance? Yes, but let’s be careful about this. I’m not saying that an England player needs to be squeaky clean, front-page controversy isn’t anything new, but if the nation is sick of badly behaving, spoilt footballers then the England incentive may be the cure.