Losing for your country should hurt more, shouldn’t it?

September 10, 2008

Carragher has his penalty savedKev 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

6 comments

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I suggest that Carragher get some mental help. If you look at his history and the kind of player he is – the easiest conclusion to draw from this story is that on some psychological level he has realized he is not a good enough player (therefore quitting England). However, he doesn’t want the world to see this and so he is trying to distract us with an absurdity. England doesn’t matter to him? That puppy is in big time denial. The only reason such a slow and desperate defender has any kind of star status at all in the world of football is due to his manager’s defensive tactics at Liverpool. When Carragher was forced to play in England’s more open system, his lack of pace and technical ability exposed his inferiority to the world. And he didn’t like that. It’s not that Carragher doesn’t love England. And it’s not that he loves Liverpool above all else. The truth is that he doesn’t love himself.

Carragher’s statement may look pretty bad from outside. But he is just saying the truth. There are a bunch of players who are more attached to their clubs than their country. I am a big Barcelona fan, but I firmly believe that the player belongs to his country rather than the club. I don’t think that Carragher don’t love his country, I believe he can’t feel it. It is more with European players rather than South American players. Latin American players tend to suceed (because they give more) for their country. It may be because they have stronger rivalries over there. Can you point out a rivalry as big or near to Argentina-Brazil clash in Europe? I wrote about this lack of spirit of nationality to the buid up of the Messi-Ronnie Olympic saga. Have a look http://www.allaboutfcbarcelona.com/2008/ 07/footballs-olympic-dilemma.html

I believe him. And I believe that other players feel the same way. After watching France play against Austria on saturday, it didn’t seem like any of them cared enough to be there.

Playing for your country may be playing for your country, but it’s still a football club. And in some football clubs (especially ones you’re “forced” to play on because of your nationality), you don’t like the coach/other players/politics surrounding the team/or immense amount of pressure to perform.

All of those things, especially when you combine them, would in my opinion suck the fun out of football.

Posted by clement | Report as abusive

Carragher was just being honest. I think most players now care more for their clubs than their countries. That goes for Spain especially yet look how far they got at the euro championships.

Posted by Lauder | Report as abusive

Jamie is honest, and he stepped aside to let those who care more to do the job, and boy!

Posted by ed njau | Report as abusive