Category: International


Ross Barkley's impressive start to the season has earned him a surprisingly rapid elevation to the senior England squad (Image | Liverpool Echo)

Ross Barkley’s impressive start to the season has earned him a surprisingly rapid elevation to the senior England squad (Image | Liverpool Echo)

After my commanding performance in central midfield during game 3 of our works tournament last month (my first two efforts were poor), I was contacted by a man named Roy who asked if I wanted to appear in the Scotland friendly. He didn’t use the word “desperate”, but the tone of his voice was telling. Unfortunately, I was unavailable due to a family dinner.

The above may not be entirely true, but if England’s selection policy continues to develop along its current trajectory, I won’t be letting go of my phone any time soon.

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Ben Watson's 90th minute header confirmed the biggest headline in football this week (Image | The Sun)

Ben Watson’s 90th minute header confirmed the biggest headline in football this week (Image | The Sun)

Last week may have seen the first significant news of the football off-season, but it certainly wasn’t the last. Following the retirement of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, and David Moyes’ arrival at Old Trafford as his successor, there has been plenty more big news in the past seven days.

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The tragedy of legendary England footballer Paul Gascoigne is one that has unfolded over many years and continues to be vividly played out on the front of tabloid newspapers and on 24-hour television news channels.

Troubled | Paul Gascoigne has once again been admitted to rehab for his alcohol problems. (Image | The Mirror)

Troubled | Paul Gascoigne has once again been admitted to rehab for his alcohol problems. (Image | The Mirror)

Mercurial as a player, “Gazza” became a sporting icon as well as a supremely talented player capable of destroying opposition defences, but since his career ended, the 45-year-old has been slowly destroying himself.

Alcohol problems and mental illnesses have blighted Gascoigne during the last decade, and only this week his agent, Terry Baker, told BBC Radio 5 live that the ailing former star was “dying in front of us” and in need of urgent help.

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The footballing exploitation of Africa

Long-shots Burkina Faso have made it to the African Cup of Nations Final - how many of them are destined for the major European leagues? (Image | Fifa.com)

Long-shots Burkina Faso have made it to the African Cup of Nations Final – how many of them are destined for the major European leagues? (Image | Fifa.com)

In the opening monologue of the movie, Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise elucidates about the bristling excitement that comes with unearthing new sporting talent. Think of the anticipation that was palpable with the arrivals of Rory McIlroy, Andrew Luck or Lewis Hamilton onto the sporting scene. But the monologue comes with a warning, “There’s genius everywhere, but until they turn pro, it’s like popcorn in a pan. Some pop. Some don’t.”

As we reach the closing stages of the 2013 African Cup of Nations, this paradigm is particularly pertinent.

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It would be logical to review football on a season by season basis, but 2012 was just a bit special. As well as the European Championships, Africa Cup of Nations and Olympic Games, all the usual competitions provided thrilling moments.

Euphoria | Spain midfielder Juan Mata and striker Fernando Torres celebrate their annihilation of Italy. (Image | Betting Expert)

Euphoria | Spain midfielder Juan Mata and striker Fernando Torres revel in their annihilation of Italy. (Image | Betting Expert)

Rather than document everything that took place, I have attempted to break down the last 12 months into a series of awards.

However, I will not focus on the more obvious categories, such as “most goals scored” (Lionel Messi, with 91) and “most prolific tweeter” (Joey Barton).

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Abused | England Under-21s star Danny Rose hit out after the final whistle at 90 minutes of racist chanting by Serbian fans. (Image | The Guardian)

The recent examples of racist abuse at the highest levels of domestic and European football have sent shockwaves through the sport. High-profile incidents have cast doubt on the instruments of justice and guardians of the game.

Not only this, but the reappearance of racism on what is now a world stage is beginning to undermine all the progress made towards eliminating such egregious abuse – once endemic – from modern football.

All around us politicians, footballers, supporters, victims and others are calling for action to be taken. The question is, who should be taking this action, and what can actually be done to truly kick racism out of football?

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Roy Hodgson takes his frustration out on a football on possibly the world’s wettest patch of grass last night (Image | Action Images)

Last night in international football: one game out of a scheduled two for England’s senior and under-21 sides, a Polish farce and a Serbian tragedy.

The senior England team will belatedly kick off last night’s World Cup qualifier against Poland in Warsaw this afternoon, after stunning scenes in the new National Stadium last night, while if Stuart Pearce and his squad have their voices heard, it may be some time before an international kicks off in Serbia again.

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The lost joy of international football

England fans might sympathise with Tom Cleverley’s mood at the prospect of another international break, but Thomas Seear disagrees (Image | Daily Star)

It’s that time of the season again – the international break and all around us there are sighs of disinterest …

A fellow scribe here at The Armchair Pundits, James Rabey, wrote recently on the dire need to change international football; indeed the press is awash with disinterest and boredom at the prospect of the internationals with the popular Guardian podcast, Football Weekly, and The Times’ equivalent, The Game, both culprits.

However, I intent to convince you that the internationals are full of joyous entertainment and drama, the problem, is that such entertainment rarely lies with our home nations.

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The England team’s comfortable dispatching of San Marino on Friday night did little for the argument that minnows deserve to be in the main stage of European qualifying (Image | bettor.com)

Upon reading the title of this post, you may think that I’m going to talk about a certain Michel Platini’s comments regarding his desire to see the 2022 World Cup played in winter.

Platini, though, isn’t my target. I am going to discuss the fact that international football is becoming increasingly meaningless.

My dad reminds me that whenever an England squad is announced that not so long ago, a player had to be among the select group of best players in England’s top flight to be called up to the national team. And although he does not necessarily disagree with giving young players a chance to show their worth in friendlies, he, like me, believes that international football needs a major reshuffle.

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Surprise | John Terry‘s decision to retire was an unexpected move late last night. (Image | Telegraph)

Chelsea captain John Terry brought his England career to an end yesterday evening by retiring from international football at the age of 31.

The defender claims that his decision was made because of the Football Association (FA) trial into his alleged racial abuse of Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.

Terry feels the FA has made his position as a member of the national team “untenable”, which paraphrased seems to suggest that Terry believes himself to be the victim of a malicious smear campaign, designed to make it as difficult as possible for him to return to his duties for England.

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