Date:Monday April 23 2007
After reading an interesting post regarding patriotism earlier on 100% football (ironically enough) it led me to thinking about where people`s loyalties lie in footballing terms. Do you support your club first or, does the national side take priority over local football? Are there any circumstances when the national side takes precedence or are you a club man/woman through and through?
I have always been one to choose club over country in nearly all circumstances as I prefer my football to be 'local`. Of course, there are those age old questions such as 'what would you rather see happen, England winning the world cup or Forest/whoever winning the Premiership?` The answer to this question depends rather on who you support of course. Ask it to a Chelsea fan and a higher proportion of their mob are more likely to plump for England winning the world cup when compared to say, Yeovil fans - such are their relative chances of success in the top flight.
I am a half breed, half English (mother) and half Irish (father) but I was born in Nottingham and consider myself English. I used to have a soft spot for Eire when I was young but over the years it faded and I became 100% England. However, I have always considered my loyalties to lie in order of locality. First and foremost I am from Nottingham, then I am an Englishmen, then a Brit and then…. Well, a European I guess but things don`t really get that far - apart from in the Ryder Cup! As much as there is nothing wrong with being proud of your country I never think it should cloud your judgment of what is really important. One thing is for sure, national loyalty is a complex matter that does not only affect us fans.
Players seem to give off mixed signals regarding their loyalty to their respective national sides. Take Roy Keane for example, he always came across as a fierce competitor who would die for his country but at the same time he let his one and only chance of playing in the world cup finals slip away because of a petty squabble with the manager. On the other hand you have Beckham, who regardless of his endless endorsements, daft images and superstar status in the game, always seemed to me to give 100% when playing for England. An opinion possibly vindicated by the tears he shed after giving up the England captaincy.
I often question how much some of England`s players are actually committed to the cause when I see them play sometimes. With footballers earning such vast sums of money these days and commanding huge transfer fees, clubs are far more guarded of their assets and players far more aware of what they have to lose - an awful lot. It must play on the pro`s minds when they play for their country that they may feel the wrath of their club manager or sustain an injury that prevents them from getting a new contract. It`s certainly painful to watch England much of the time these days and you have to wonder if the players are holding a little bit back. In the old days, playing for your county was the be all and end all but now players and clubs a like have a great deal more power. For example, you would not have doubted Stuart Pearce`s or Bryan Robson`s patriotism that`s for sure but there are certainly a few questions asked of modern day international footballers.
I will always be a Forest fan first and foremost and an England fan second. However, the chasm between the two grows larger the older I get, despite the ailing fortunes of the reds over the years. Many people may disagree but you will always get that in football. The crunch for me came the other day when England, were playing Israel in a vital Euro qualifier. I missed the game and only occasionally checked the score, muttering a few unkind words after and then going out to enjoy myself. I once saw Forest lose to Notts in the County Cup final and did not come out of my room all night such was my mood. That cleared up any doubt in my mind.
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