Chris was appointed editor of the Gazette in January 2012. Chris has more than 20 years experience as a journalist and has previously worked in senior positions in Newcastle, Exeter and Nottingham.
Yes, that’s right, England actually win a major competition and the whole country explodes into one giant party that lasts for years. But the amazing thing is, this actually happened, apart from the never-ending party bit. In 1982, one of the greatest coaches I ever worked with – Dave Sexton – and I helped England win the Under-21 Championships, beating West Germany 5-4 over two legs.
And yet it feels like a dirty little secret nobody ever talks about or even knows of.
I mention this because it is relevant to the raging club v country debate that is threatening to further diminish England’s chances of winning anything meaningful again.
When Dave and I won in 1982, players were practically pushing each other out of the way to be selected – and that included senior players at the time, too, like Gary Owen at Manchester City, who scored twice in the final aged 24.
They sensed victory, they wanted to be part of something exciting, something that could make them proud in their later years and propel their careers.
Nothing, nobody stood in their way: if they wanted to play for England and be part of international history, no manager or club was going to stop them. It saddens me now that our ‘82 success has been brushed under the carpet but it saddens me even more that today’s generation of players are coming under so much pressure to find ways of not being available for their country.
I am sick of Premier League managers dictating who should, or who shouldn’t, play for England. And that applies at both senior and under-21 level.
England cannot be something that’s up for discussion, a deal to be negotiated, a compromise.There are no conversations to be had with club managers trying to stop England picking their players.We have to stick to the FA law that is already in place: if Roy Hodgson wants Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, or Gareth Southgate wants to have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Jack Wilshere in his under-21 squad, that is their right.I never tolerated a situation where managers were telling me publicly who I could, or could not, select.That would have totally undermined my position and made the job of running England impossible.To be selected for England is the ultimate accolade.