England gains when its players go overseas

This Euro had England’s pundits a twitter with the perceived lack of quality players in their national squad. Who could blame them? Spain, perennial underachievers, finally broke the hex leaving England in dire straits as the only big country with a big fat doughnut hole in recent accomplishments.
Arshavin, Villa, Xavi, Iniesta, Senna, Sneijder, Nihat, Altintop, Podolski, Srna, and many others make Gerrard and company look pedestrian. Even players like Cesc Fabregas suffered by association playing second fiddle to Xavi as Luis Aragones reposed faith in the Liga players.
But as per the affirmative action school of thought, it is the influx of overseas players who are responsible for the death knell of English soccer. With top flight managers going for the foreign brand, domestic talent is being squeezed out, bottoming out in the lower divisions. The same thinking permeates in youth academies as overseas talent is considered more attractive in a club’s success. The affirmative action school is proactive in imposing limits on foreign representation in the English clubs, especially the Premiership.
Playing for the most globalized league has proven beneficial for a number of players as seen in this Euro or the last World Cup, in terms of representation. In contrast, this cross pollination is virtually absent when it comes to the English squad. The present roster shows a high degree of insularity. Only David Beckham, Owen Hargreaves and Jonathan Woodgate (in a forgettable cameo) have experience playing for an overseas league. From the lack of transfer talk involving English players, save a perennial Frank Lampard move, clearly rival leagues are not exactly enchanted with its talent. But even the handful players who have made a jump have had less than enjoyable experiences.
The lack of positive foreign experiences plus the Premiership’s klieg lights have created a risk averse environment in the current lot of players.
This is in direct contrast to the relatively anonymous years of a nascent Premiership which saw a number of English players hungry for recognition going overseas to ply their trade in the bigger leagues.
Paul Ince, Paul Gascoigne, Steve McManaman, and David Platt, the nucleus of England’s 1996 Euro team provided them their last substantial lift, all benefited from their Serie and La Liga experience. McManaman and Ince garnered considerable overseas success. Even earlier, Chris Waddle and Gary Lineker translated productive seasons at OM and Barca into stellar performances in England’s 1990 World Cup campaign, another banner year as they made the semi-finals.
It is clear that England gains when their players have made the most of their foreign experience. An attribute which should be explored more rigorously by the FA rather settling on the more expedient exercise of blaming overseas players for the predicament of the English game.

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