Football has been tribal and jingoistic for over a century. Where it succeed in penetrating beyond the scope of a mere sport, it is inherently primitive. This can be a healthy way for people to remain in contact with all that is important in life but it’s often not.
Writing in today’s Sun, former Celtic player (good grief) , Ian ‘Wrighty’ Wright said: “The next young player who says he does not want to play for England should be ordered to ring the parents of a soldier who has died serving his country in Afghanistan and tell them his reasons”.
To invoke the memory of those who have sacrificed their lives in order to rebuke reluctant footballers is beyond primitive, it is debased and ugly. Bereaved parents would surely be sickened at attempts to equate their sacrifice with a football game. Football and our media have lost their way. Wright should be ashamed, but he won’t be, it’s nonsense like this which newspapers pay for. His media value will have increased.
Harry Redknapp’s ill-made comments about Spurs players not wanting to travel for England games are also a nonsense. There’s not a top-flgiht manager in the game who’s yet to experience players reluctant to fly to Tbilisi, or some other distant destination, for a friendly instead of resting at home with his family. If you are a top pro, these games hold little excitement or value and come at a fitness cost, to pretend otherwise is being duplicitous.
Players with imposing club demands can see these games far enough. Those involved in European football often have two games per week for months, depleting resources and adding strains to muscles. A flight to the back of beyond before a thankless task of a game is simply not an attractive offer. Most players go, but let’s be honest, almost all will choose times to back out occasionally.
England are hurting after an awful World Cup but it will be counter-productive to hand the stage over to jingoistic lunatics. And ‘Wrighty’, if anyone asks you to pull the Paradise Windfall one day, don’t feel obliged to pitch up.
Visit the CQN Bookstore to get Tommy Gemmell to sign your personal copy of his book, All the Best.[calameo code=0003901719d82038831a9 lang=en page=126 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]