Losing for your country should hurt more, shouldn’t it?
Kev Fylan blogged about England’s fear factor being the root cause of their continual failures but Jamie Carragher’s autobiography reveals another possible explanation when he admits that he just didn’t care enough about playing for the national team.
The Liverpool defender, who retired from international football principally because he got fed up with playing out of position, said:
“Representing your country is the ultimate honour, especially in the World Cup. Not to me. Whenever I returned home from disappointing England experiences one unshakeable, overriding thought pushed itself to the forefront of my mind, no matter how much the rest of the nation mourned: ‘At least it wasn’t Liverpool.’
“I confess: defeats wearing an England shirt never hurt me in the same way as losing with my club. I wasn’t uncaring or indifferent, I simply didn’t put England’s fortunes at the top of my priority list. Losing felt like a disappointment rather than a calamity.”
For most England fans such an outlook may be hard to understand but for backers of Croatia, who England face on Wednesday, it will be beyond comprehension.
As a young nation, Croatian fans and players are among the loudest and proudest in the game. They don’t need to kiss the badge to show what it means to them.
As with the All Blacks in rugby, merely wearing the shirt says it all.
There are many in the England set-up who hold the opposite view to Carragher — just look at David Beckham’s continued involvement.
But is it possible that there are other players out there among the pampered millionaires for whom representing their country is something of a chore?
Funnily enough, Croatia’s victory at Wembley in the final Euro 2008 qualifier, which ended England’s chances, might well have been avoided if Carragher had decided not to throw his toys out of the pram. With a defensive injury crisis England had to use Sol Campbell and Joleon Lescott at centre back, and were badly exposed.
PHOTO: Portugal’s Ricardo Pereira saves from Jamie Carragher during England’s penalty shootout defeat in the 2006 World Cup quarter-final in Gelsenkirchen July 1, 2006. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro