Off To Berlin

I’m off to Berlin for a week, in part to take photographs for a forthcoming post on a Scottish Edwardian footballer.

While I’m gone, oblige me with your opinion. If you had to name one player who, in your opinion, epitomised the history of English football (not necessarily its ethos or its greatest moment or its values), who would that be? He doesn’t have to be English, but he does have to exemplify the way the game has developed in England.

I’ll tell you who I think best fits the bill when I return.

On another subject, Euro 2008 was superb, wasn’t it? I fear next season has its work cut out to compete. I felt thoughout that the British commentariat found themselves short of the knowledge and vocabulary necessary to reflect what they were watching – Radio 5 as usual largely excepted, and with Martin Samuel of The Times earning an exemption of his own. Cesc Fabregas deserved everything he eventually got, his reward for maturity, patience, hard work and astonishing talent. I hope you all followed Football365’s era-defining “If England Had Qualified” column.

I didn’t expect this at the outset, but I really can’t name a favourite moment. Everything bar France v Romania?

See you in a week’s time.

10 Replies to “Off To Berlin”

  1. Perhaps I should suggest Billy Meredith, for various reasons…

    But the first name that comes to mind is Colin Bell. Local boy, signed by rising club, exemplified fitness, skill, goalscoring, tackling, and all the skills now thought of as ‘modern’. He crossed the lines from local to international, and was maybe the last Charlton-style universally respected player.

    The trajectory of English football is hard to map. In the Premier League present we have mediocrities elevated to stars, with loyalty disregarded. Perhaps a player like Alan Knight or even Jamie Carragher?

  2. “one player who, in your opinion, epitomised the history of English football”: Dave Mackay.

    On Euro 2008, that Dutch goal where van Bratwurst ran like buggery from the penalty area and everything just seemed to flow.

  3. Gascoigne. There have been of course moments of great success (genius even), but more generally, he is hugely overrated, with a tendency to wallow in a self-indulgent focus on the past while the world has moved on.

    Is that too cruel?

  4. I don’t know much about the history of English football, but agree with Kris that Gazza epitomises it’s present incarnation (and perhaps wider English society also).

    Unlike Kris however have nothing but fondness and sympathy for Gascoigne since I read “Gazza”. I recommend it. And this is from an Irish person who hooted with laughter at his blubbering during Italia 90.

  5. It’s Kevin Keegan. In the best possible way – effort, perseverance and never-give-up are the quintissential qualities of English football. Qualities sufficient to make him dominant in almost every sphere, but which also carry the shortcomings preventing him from ever really achieving at the very highest level. In historical terms, dominance through those English qualities, a certain openness to ideas from abroad, a process which ultimately led to his marginalisation by the very best foreign talent

  6. It’s Ian Wright, not for his playing abilities, but in respect of his recent comments about why Paul Ince shouldn’t need to complete his UEFA Coaching licence. Only in England could a player say this and not be ridiculed!

    The narrow minded view is mirrored everywhere, have a read of Alison Kervin’s biography on Clive Woodward about his time at Southampton and you’ll despair for the future of the game!

  7. Paul Scholes, as the most atypical English midfielder of them all – no physical gifts whatsoever but every technical gift you can name. Bobby Charlton was bigger, stronger and considerably quicker than Scholes, as well as having great vision and that right foot.
    How England produced Scholes is a mystery to me; but says a lot about United’s youth system in the late 80s and early 90s.
    But more than anything else – I love him to bits!

  8. Um… ALMOST every technical gift you can name, then…
    Having said that, Scholes is at his most English when he’s throwing himself about recklessly; higher workrate than most players outside England who play similar playmaking roles, which comes from the footballing culture he’s from, I guess.

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