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English players should NOT get out more, says Desailly

December 4, 2007

Desailly under pressureOri Lewis wrote an interesting piece for the blog on Friday arguing that English players should take more advantage of EU freedom of movement and go out seeking work abroad (it’s headlined “English players should get out more” and you can read it here).

I put the idea to Marcel Desailly when I got a chance to talk to him just ahead of the draw for Euro 2008 on Sunday and I think it’s fair to say the former World Cup winner could not have agreed less. Desailly, who played in France, Italy and England before closing out his career in Qatar, told me:

“The statistics show that English players have a problem exporting themselves. I don’t know why. The Latin countries give them difficulties because you have to cope with the lifestyle also. They are able to perform and to face the media but your lifestyle is affected by the fact that you are a sports champion. Sometimes they have problems coping with that.

“In Qatar, for example, they told us they didn’t want English players. They say they try to avoid having English players because they have problems to adapt, because of the weather, because of other major things.

“Let’s keep things as they are. There’s no emergency. You just have to balance things up a bit.”

Desailly, who helped France win the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship two years later, spent an hour or so talking ting to journalists while appearing at the launch of a McDonald’s Player Escort programme. He sipped away at espresso but (not altogether surprisingly) declined offers of a big bag of french fries for breakfast.

As someone with long experience of the Premier League he was mostly asked about England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008 and other issues like player quotas. The most interesting thing for me, though, was hearing that he’s keen to coach Ghana, the country of his birth. “My time will come after Claude LeRoy,” he told me. You can read the full story on our main Web site here.

PHOTO: Marcel Desailly is challenged by a Mathare Youth Sports Association player during a training session with the children in the Mathare slums near Nairobi, October 25, 2006. REUTERS/Antony Njuguna

Comments

It seems to me that the main barrier to English players taking chances to move abroad is the language barrier and the innate lazyness about most of the English-speaking world that we don’t need to learn other languages because everyone speaks English. This manifests itself in English football already where some clubs have experienced dressing room splits when half speak English and the other half Spanish/Portuguese or French. When English players go abroad if they don’t get the language they are toast and I feel some just don’t want the experience of playing abroad enough to try it when you have got Champions League football as an easy alternative – just sign for a top 4 club!

 

The funny thing is footballers pick up languages pretty easily. Even Steve McManaman¡

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I do think more should give it a try, though. What would be so bad about spending a year in the Real Madrid second team, or wherever, to learn a bit more technique when you’re and 18-year-old struggling to get a game at Man Utd.

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