Do you remember the good old days where players actually liked/loved playing for their country? The days when Bryan Robson, Gazza, Shearer, Lineker, Shilton, Pearce among others actually jumped with joy and passion when they scored or won a game?
I recall arguing with a work colleague a few years ago as they said that they loved their club football more than their country.
With a cry of “What the fuck?” I then berated him and told him how playing for your country was the greatest honour and privilege that a player could be given.
My colleague stood fast and we agreed to disagree.
Fast forward a few years and I find that he is right. If there’s a friendly on TV I just don’t give a damn anymore. If it’s a World Cup or qualifying match then it piques my interest for a short time until I watch, realise that we’re still shit and that the players don’t care, and watch something else instead.
I remember the days we used to pile in the LA Bowl, dressed in all our England finery, face-painted and pissed, and wrecking the place when we celebrated won World Cup/Euro games… and wrecked it even more if we lost.
But back then fans had the passion – they cared.
Now who gives a damn when the players can’t even be bothered to show up. Today Fulham’s reserve keeper was called up to the senior squad (although he has had to decline as he is getting married the day before!) because Rob Green, Paul Robinson, and Ben Foster have all ‘retired’ from international football because they each believe they should be our country’s number one… despite all having proven themselves as shite on occasion and not a patch on Joe Hart.
As it happens, David Stockdale has pulled out (because of said wedding) and Rob Green has been called up as a replacement, even though he said he’d never play for England again! Does he expect to get in ahead of Joe Hart? Will he retire straight after again in a piss?
And to think, I used to love Rob Green as a Norwich player.
As per usual, I digress.
Where is the passion? Steve Coppell once said he would walk to wherever it was England were playing if they needed him, and I don’t recall Stuart Pearce ever not turning up for duty. Hell, the guy broke his leg against Watford while playing for West Ham and was only kept from playing on by the physio!
I fucking love Stuart Pearce.
And then you have Wenger, Ferguson, et al, moaning that the players are too tired after a loooong season. Fuck off and do one. Giovanni Trapattoni said in an interview today that he used to play 70+ games EVERY season and they didn’t have the diets, fitness regimes or lifestyles that the pampered players have now. He also said that the life of a professional footballer was just like going on holiday… for your whole life.
You can also point the finger at the ludicrous wages paid now, or there’s also the fact that the Champions League is more important than national teams.
Before you scoff at that, the point was made on TalkSport today… and not one person called in to disagree.
Now, I’m 35, unfit and have as much skill as a club-footed dwarf, but I’d still give my all for my country in a game.
Unless my boss says otherwise.
Or I’m feeling a little too tired after a long season at work.
Or I retire.