Sports Letter: Foreign lesson

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: Arsenal recently transfer-listed four players, two of whom were English. Pundits in the newspapers cried out that this was the latest worrying example of English talent being squeezed out of our leading clubs. Not wanting to be left out in the cold, the sports minister Tony Banks promised to bring Government pressure to restrict the foreign players in domestic leagues.

Accusations have been made that [Dennis] Bergkamp and [Gianfranco] Zola have detrimentally affected the national game. Really? Pundits harp back to the great players of the past, but it is easy to forget that England failed to qualify for the 1974 and 1978 World Cups. Where were the foreign players then? Bergkamp's previous generation, Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens, were busy delighting the world with total football.

As for England, we failed in Euro 1988 and 1992. The "great" English players at the time - Gary Lineker, John Barnes, Glenn Hoddle and Peter Beardsley - lost all three groups games in 1988. Oh, and we did not qualify for the 1994 World Cup.

We can't always talk about 1966. So who would the next generation rather learn their creative skills from: Sherwood and Batty, or Vieira and Petit?