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Acts of Union – 1707 and all that

July 7th, 2010 by · No Comments · Features, Football

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A lot has been written about Germany’s radical restructuring of national football in the last few weeks. It’s true that after the warning signs of under-performance in Euro 2000 Germany overhauled its failing approach to youth football.

Although, going further back, the catalyst was the 3-0 Quarter Final defeat to Croatia in World Cup 1998. Part of the solution was also born around that time – widening the definition of what it means to be ‘German’. In 1999 Germany changed it’s eligibility laws making it easier for immigrants to gain citizenship.

Whilst younger players, Ozil, Khedira, Boateng, have emerged at this tournament it is older players, Klose and Podolski, who have provided the cutting edge.

What links the past and the present? In 2001 Miroslav Klose was persuaded to reject the overtures of Poland, the land of his birth, and play for Germany in World Cup 2002. Two years later Lukas Podolski, also born in Poland, made the same decision.

The younger players, many part of the 1999 UEFA U21 champions team, have added to the mix. U21 Captain Sami Khedira’s father is Tunisian and Ozil is of Turkish descent. Jerome Boateng’s father is Ghanaian, Dennis Aogo’s is Nigerian while Marko Marin was born in Bosnia.

If the FA had taken the same ‘enlightened’ approach what might we be looking at today? Young players in the British Isles who, in our opinion, could have made a difference include; Darren Fletcher [26] playing for Scotland, Cory Evens [19] and Jonny Evans [22] both playing for Northern Ireland.

But, the real lost opportunity must surely be in Wales with Aaron Ramsey [19], Gareth Bale [20] and Joe Ledley [23]. Persuading them to play for England might also have helped to make the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign a bit easier as England’s group include Wales along with Montenegro, Bulgaria and Switzerland.

Maybe we could resurrect that thorny old perennial, Team GB? In fact, a Great Britain team won Gold at the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Games and a Great Britain side did play as late as 1947 at Hampden Park.

All it would take is for our multitude of interested parties to agree on something. Don’t hold your breath…

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