When Jack Wilshere signed for Bournemouth it was a surprise to most. At first glance I thought, yeah he’s looking for regular first team football and should be the first name on the team sheet at Bournemouth if he’s fit so this gives him the best chance of getting back into the England setup.
But then on reflection I came to the conclusion that it was a cop out and epitomizes the mentality of an English professional footballer.
Wilshere had the opportunity to sign for Roma or AC Milan, these aren’t little Italian clubs, these are giants of European football. Even when fit he would’ve had to have performed week in week out to get in the team at both clubs. Roma are always challenging for silverware and while Milan have dropped somewhat over the past decade they are still a massive club with worldwide exposure.
Why are English footballers so reluctant to play abroad? The majority choose to stay in the comfort zone of the Premier League. I honestly believe that if Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes would have gone to play for a European giant for a period of their careers they would have become even better players. They would’ve had to fine tune their game to adapt to another playing style which would have benefited the English national team also. I understand some guys just don’t want to up sticks and move their families abroad away from family and friends but come on, these are millionaires who could fly their families in every other week and Europe isn’t a big place with regard to air travel. A sportsman’s career is short and can be ended at any time due to injury therefore why not take on a challenge even if just for a short time and go test yourself at a top European club?
Italians have always been reluctant to play abroad but they have the excuse of the fact that the Italian national team has still won World Cups and got to European Championship finals so the players staying at home hasn’t really affected the national team’s ability to challenge. England don’t have that excuse. We have reached 2 semi finals since 1966 which is an appalling record. If some of our top players had played abroad for just a small amount of time I’m sure the national team would’ve seen the benefit.
The reluctance of English players to play abroad makes me ask the question……is it basically down to the fact that they aren’t good enough and wouldn’t be able to adapt to other styles of play? Maybe that is the case but as it stands we as the public and the players themselves will never know!