Liverpool legend Emlyn can teach Ferdinand a thing or two...
By Micah Hall
Tuesday 05 Jun 2012 10:47:00
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Reading comments about Rio Ferdinand's omission from the England squad speaks volumes about the modern player's attitude to England.

I remember the late Liverpool legend Emlyn Hughes once saying that what discredited Don Revie in the eyes of the England squad was when at their first meeting he said: “I've had a word with the FA and got your appearance money up”. Hughes said “As if we played for the money. We would have crawled over broken glass to play for England”.

Today's modern players don't even need the money to play for England, and for many of them playing international football has become an optional extra. Others like Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand, seem to think the England team exists to provide a forum for them to parade their dubious talent on the world stage.

There was a time, not so very long ago, when a player would never dream of creating a fuss in public when not selected to play for their country. Quite simply, when you kick and scream and throw a big tantrum it is tantamount to saying “I'm better than the players he has picked”. Some might say that this is true – but I disagree.

Football is a team game. Sir Alex Ferguson famously ejected Paul Ince when he was perceived to have gotten too big for his boots. Carlos Tevez was forced to do penance for letting down Manchester City this season. History is littered with better players than Ferdinand who have been sacrificed for the good of the team. If Ferdinand really cared about England he would have kept his mouth shut. Instead, he chose to mark the call up of the precociously talented young Liverpool defender Martin Kelly to the squad by taking to twitter and cryptically making the point that this demonstrated it was not football reasons that has caused him to be left out.

And logically, that means he is saying he is a demonstrably better player than young Kelly. Leaving aside the relative merits of the players, is there anyone in the country who thinks the best way to see Kelly progress as an England player is for former senior colleagues to take to public forums and effectively say he isn't in the squad on merit? That he is not really good enough?

If Ferdinand cared more about England than himself he would have kept his mouth shut. It leads a suspicious person to conclude that it isn't England he cares about, it is England as a vehicle for Rio Ferdinand that floats his boat. Ferdinand's agent went on to cite his client's long international career. He certainly has played a lot for England, so let's spend a couple of paragraphs reviewing the glittering achievements of the England team during that period: there, did you enjoy it? It is high time England broke free from the failure of the 'golden generation'.

Roy Hodgson has the toughest ever introduction to the impossible job of being England manager. He has a squad decimated by injuries, ill-prepared, disunited, little time and an opening game against France, who are frankly much better than England, followed by Sweden who we never beat and Ukraine who are the hosts. He could really use all of our support. It's not really a surprise that our modern prima-donnas think first of themselves and then stop thinking, but that doesn't mean we should indulge their tantrums. Hodgson has enough on his plate, without “coming under pressure to explain Ferdinand's absence from the squad”.

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