Graham fears multi-national squads will undermine England - News & Comment - Football - The Independent

Graham fears multi-national squads will undermine England

George Graham, the last manager to win a league championship without the aid of foreign players, said he feared for the future of the England team after watching his former club deploy an entirely foreign squad.

George Graham, the last manager to win a league championship without the aid of foreign players, said he feared for the future of the England team after watching his former club deploy an entirely foreign squad.

Graham, a Scot who had 15 Englishmen and two Irishmen in his 1989 title-winning Arsenal squad , said: "I think it's very sad that a club of the quality of Arsenal did not have a domestic player playing or on the bench. It's really going to affect the English international team in the near future. Look at how Scotland [where Rangers and Celtic field few native players] have suffered. It could happen to England.

"Arsenal have a very good youth policy but it is a worldwide policy. They have some great kids but most of them are foreigners. And if your up-and-coming kids are foreign as well it does not look good for England or UK players. It could get to the stage where Sven Goran Eriksson is struggling to find a game to watch.

"It is an unbelievable transformation in 16 years. Let's not kid ourselves. The main reason they are here is because the money is here and they will remain here as long as the money does. That said, you have to give credit to the likes of Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp. They have committed themselves to Arsenal for a number of years. They haven't just grabbed the money and moved on. But not many foreign players have stayed that long and I do think Arsenal miss a major captain, a John Terry or Tony Adams figure who has come through the ranks.

"What I would love to see at Arsenal is a combination: world-class foreign players and a few more Englishmen - they do have Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell but I'd like to see some more.

"All English clubs, not just the big ones, have to work a lot harder at their youth policies. We have to learn from the Dutch. How is it a nation of 15 million people can produce so many world-class individuals and teams? They take the game to the kids. They get them at a very young age and teach them the fundamentals. The FA have done some great work in the last five to 10 years but there is a lot more we can learn, and need to learn, for the sake of the national team."

Overseas and over here

Landmark dates in the history of overseas players in English football

1892 Walter Bowman, born and raised in Canada, of Swiss heritage, becomes the first foreign player in Football League history, for Accrington.

1908 Max Seeburg, born in Germany, becomes the first European-born foreigner in the League, for Tottenham.

1911 Hussein Hegazi, an Egyptian forward, becomes the first African international in the League, with Fulham.

1913 The Denmark captain Nils Middleboe becomes the first foreign international captain to play in the League, for Chelsea.

1922 International defender Eugene Langenove becomes the first Frenchman to play in the League, for Walsall. France has supplied more foreigners to English football than any other country.

1930 Arsenal try to sign an Austrian goalkeeper, Rudy Hiden, but his work permit application is declined because he is foreign. The FA and PFA adopt an anti-foreigner stance. Arsenal ignore them and sign Gerry Keizer, the League's first Dutchman.

1931 Enraged by Arsenal's approach, the FA introduces a two-year residency rule to thwart foreign professional imports. This effective ban on foreign professionals remains in place until 1978.

1951-56 Six consecutive FA Cup finals graced with foreign players: George Robledo (Chile international, 1951, with Newcastle); George and Ted Robledo (Chile, 1952, with Newcastle); Bill Perry (South African, 1953, scores winning goal for Blackpool in Matthews final); Joe Marston (Australian international, 1954, with Preston); Bert Trautmann (German, 1955 & 1956, with Manchester City).

1956 Trautmann becomes the first foreigner to win the Footballer of the Year award. He is one of numerous foreigners in the ban period (1931-78) allowed to play in England after satisfying long-time residency requirements and/or playing as an amateur for two years before signing professional terms.

1978 The European Community in Brussels decides on 23 February that football associations cannot deny access to players on the basis of their nationality. At its summer AGM, the Football League lifts its 47-year effective ban on foreigners. A "new wave" of imports, including Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa, Ivan Golac and Kazimierz Deyna, starts to arrive.

1988-89 Arsenal win the League title without using a single foreign player. They were the last club to do so.

1996 Manchester United's Eric Cantona becomes the first foreign national to captain an FA Cup-winning team. Edward Parry, Canada-born but a British citizen, had captained the Old Carthusians to success in 1881.

1997 Ruud Gullit becomes the first foreign manager to win the FA Cup, with Chelsea.

1998 Arsène Wenger becomes the first foreign manager to win the Double, with Arsenal.

1999 Chelsea, under the Italian manager, Gianluca Vialli, become the first club to start a match with 11 foreign players, against Southampton on Boxing Day. They have four English players on the bench.

2005 Arsenal, under Frenchman Wenger, become the first club in League history to field an all-foreign squad with 16 non-British players.

Nick Harris

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