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U.K. Football Team

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      19.05.2009 19:22
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      Why Not!

      This is a difficult question, as for some of the nations involved they would not feel comfortable being part of a UK team, for others they may wonder what difference it would make.

      The idea of a UK football team for olympic games has been brought up on many occasions, it would have to involved players at under 23 status as it generally does and it would be down to the relevant associations whether the best players are picked or if each country must be represented, some would say we'll have 11 English players, but I would disagree having watched the Welsh U21 team on a number of occasions recently.

      The big worrty is that the associations might be forced to then have united kingdom teams for European and World Cups and we would all lose our individual identities but I think its too late for that as our footballing nations have been established for a great many years now.

      I think so long as it is agreed with UEFA and the IOC that this is a one-off for Olympic games it'd be great to have a team represent our island for the tournament, who knows we might finally win something!!!!

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      08.02.2007 17:51
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      One team UK

      I wouldn't mind a UK soccer team, it will bring the four nations closer.

      England is the main team in the union. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are minor teams. All had golden years in the past.

      UK team will be good for the unity of the nation. Also it will free places which can be taken up by other nations in world cup and Euro knockouts.

      Wales always have 3-4 good players, same with Scotland while Northern Ireland had George Best. All three of these nation have a problem, lack of quality team. In the 80's Wales had Ian Rush and couple of excellent defenders and world class goalkeeper. Wales got nowhere though because of lack of good players. Ryan Giggs was the star man but that was about it.


      A UK team will win more world cups and everybody from home nations will support it. Although it will take a while for people to get used to team UK.

      USA is half a continent yet only one team competes in the sporting arena. Here in UK our population is about five times less and we have four teams.

      Less forget the history and the empire because that is where the sporting nations were developned.

      One team will be good for the spirit of the nation.

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        08.02.2007 14:57
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        NAH

        As with all of my case studies I am going to give a yes section and a no section to my debate then make my own mind up based on how I can convince myself, by the way I don’t have a split personality I just like to argue with myself!

        Yes

        There should be a UK football team because let’s face it individually as football teams we are not great, England has some hope sometimes but then every two years a nation unites and believes they will win, then the lose then two years later the same thing happens again. With expansion your team will always get better, think of England’s problems though do we have a naturally great left footed midfield player, well the answer is we have many maybe but I haven’t seen him!

        England’s greatest achievement since the world cup started in 1934 was winning the world cup in 1966 over 40 years ago now and it’s something every English man is proud of surely any way to bring this back to England is a good thing.

        Let’s have a look at the “strongest” English team now:

        Paul Robinson
        Gary Neville
        John Terry
        Rio Ferdinand
        Ashley Cole
        Aaron Lennon
        Frank Lampard
        Stephen Gerard
        Owen Hargreeves
        Michael Owen
        Wayne Rooney

        I use strongest in inverted commas because everyone has a argument about who is the best starting line-up that England has, now on paper this could be the best team in the world, so why aren’t we, well that’s a question that will plague every bodies minds for a long time, however it does not appear that this team will win much so if we can bring in a few new players and try some new things why cant we, let’s face it teams like Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland have the same chance of winning anything as England do (No disrespect to anybody)
        So why not give it a go.


        No

        The answer has to be no because of tradition, the teams have been individual for ever, why change things now. Countries have too much pride to combine plus there’s the added point of would we get on as a nation or would we end up being miserable being just 1 team. Even if we do lose a lot of matches are there any point getting up tight about it we are still one as a country.

        Also there is a point that if we do combine would England feel the benefits the answer to that is yes we might but it would only be with one or two players max, I am looking at Ryan Giggs.

        Also if we combine will there not be some sort of rule that at least one or two players of the country have to be on at the same time, if this is the case let’s look at the team:

        Roy Carol (NI)
        Gary Neville (ENG)
        John Terry (ENG)
        Rio Ferdinand (ENG)
        Gareth Bale (WAL)
        Aaron Hughes (NI)
        Ryan Giggs (WAL)
        Stephen Gerard (ENG)
        David Weir (SCOT)
        Kris Boyd (SCOT)
        Wayne Rooney (ENG)

        Now as an English man I would rather have the first team I wrote out, it’s not worth the aggravation.



        As you might be able to tell from the above to answers I think that we should not get a UK Team because it would not be worth breaking 100 year old barriers for one or two players, however this is just my opinion if you have one let you know, leave me a comment!

        Thanks for reading.

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          13.04.2006 12:50
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          No to a National Team.

          Now I must say that I do not see the point of having a UK national team.

          Why?

          Well firstly you have to understand that each and every one of the home nations have their own identity. I should mention that I am Welsh, and feel proud to belong to that nation. I have a connection with my home land and support my football (and more Rugby Team) with passion. I would just not feel the same about a UK Team.

          I cannot see at first glance any benefits to having a national team. Firstly currently the England side would bring in the majority of the players, leaving Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland with few of their home players to cheer on. As such I would not feel that close to the team and would not really care that much about supporting them.

          Also would the English players feel as close a bond and pride in playing for a national UK side? I doubt it myself.

          I would highlight however one area which makes me wonder whether there is a possibility of this being done. That is in the area of Rugby (whch is still my first love in sport), where you have the Lions (which is a touring side which get together every 4 years with players from Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England). I do support the Lions completely and love it when then play as one team, however I would never want to support just a Lions team, and not have my Welsh Rugby team most of the time. Maybe therefore you could bring in a touring UK team that play together every 4 years? Not certain whether it would work as well as in Rugby but could be a possibility.

          I cannot understand what benefits a UK team would bring to football. I suppose they could compete on a national scale at the Olympics, but really, in football terms what does the Olympics really mean? After all you have the World Cup and that is all that really matters when it comes to football, and I for one would rather see my national side trying (and for wales it really is just trying) to get into the world cup and I am sure Scotland and English fans would agree that they would want their countries competing in the World Cup as a single identity.

          I am trying to look at this from an objective viewpoint, but just cannot seem to do so.

          In short I would say that I would not want a national UK team in football and am not convinced that I would be that bothered about supporting such a team.

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            16.03.2005 11:38
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            On the one hand, No. No way can we ever allow this to take place. Each individual country would lose its identity as a footballing nation, which is something that has taken a century to establish:

            England - The team who think they will do it, and perhaps should, but never do
            Wales - The team with a sprinkle of good players who occassionally cause an upset
            Scotland - The guys that held Brazil to a draw in the World Cup, then went out
            N. Ireland - The relentless losers of the British Isles

            OK, so the national footballing identities aren't something to boast about. Between the four nations, over 100 years and including 2 major footballing competitions (the World Cup and the Euro Championship), we've only managed to win one. England winning the World Cup of 1966 is the highlight of the United Kingdoms footballing achievement. Wow. Forty years ago we won something.

            So if loss of identity isn't a good reason not to form a UK football team, then perhaps we should?

            No, and I'll tell you why. It would be a waste of time. You design a new kit, arrange all the appropriate FIFA administration which would take a while and for what? The manager picks the current England squad, with a couple of exceptions. If I were the manager of the UK football team, this would be my line up:

            1 -Paul Robinson
            2 -Ashley Cole
            3 -Gary Neville
            4 -John Terry
            5 -Rio Ferdinand
            6 -Steven Gerrard
            7 -David Beckham
            8 -Frank Lampard
            9 -Wayne Rooney
            10 -Jermaine Defoe
            11 -Ryan Giggs

            For those who don't know, theres one player there who isn't English, and that's Giggs. I would have picked Damien Duff, but of course, the Republic of Ireland aren't part of the UK.

            So what would be the point? The only improvement we could make to the team would be one player? Is it really worth the hassle? Definately not.

            You could argue that this team could have a good go at winning something, but only as good a go as England would. Joe Cole is popping up on the left of midfield for England now, and, given his current form at Chelsea, he is more than capable of filling the troublesome left wing role.

            So, to boost the chances of winning is not a good reason for a UK football team.

            Reverting to my opinion title, I'll give you a good reason to have a UK football team. For fun, and for a challenge.

            In rugby, the British Lions tour is one of the most eagerly awaited events on the calender. The years without a major tournament could see a British football team touring one of the major footballing countries perhaps? Obviously, touring places like South Africa and New Zealand wouldn't prove too much of an obstacle, so perhaps Brazil, Argentina or Italy? The team could play a few club teams as a warm up, then best of three against the national side.

            This team would include the Republic of Ireland as well, and there would be regulations on the team that plays, for example, there must be at least one player from each nation on the field at any given time. So, here's a new idea. If I was manager of the British Isles football team, with the regulation I've just created, here's my line-up, with nationality:

            1 -Roy Carroll (NI)
            2 -Steve Finnan (ROI)
            3 -Ashley Cole (ENG)
            4 -Andy O'Brien (ROI)
            5 -John Terry (ENG)
            6 -Barry Ferguson (SCO)
            7 -Simon Davies (WAL)
            8 -Frank Lampard (ENG)
            9 -James McFadden (SCO)
            10 -David Healy (NI)
            11 -Ryan Giggs (WAL)

            Just for arguments sake, I have included two from every nation, three from England. There are many players that could play in this squad, and of course, whilst the matches wouldn't technically be competitive, playing for the British Isles would become an honour, just as playing for the Lions is, and the players would make it competitive.

            So, in response to the question "Should there be a UK football team?", my answer is NO

            In response to the question "Should we form the football team of the British Isles for special tours?", my answer would most definately be yes.






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              26.03.2004 14:47
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              Manchester united dominating reign in the premiership seems to be coming to an end. Last week they thrashed 4-1 by arch-rivals Manchester city during their first visit at the city of Manchester stadium. In this week news , it was stated that Sir alex ferguson was going to axe giggs, forlan and butt and try to rebuild united.ferguson screwed up when he had a row with david beckham. He did sold the England skipper to real Madrid and went on to bought ronaldo. Neither him nor flecther has the quality that david has and that has deeply affected united. Meanwhile arsenal beat Blackburn rovers at ewood park to stretch their winning run in the premiership to 8 games. Thierry henry and Robert pires doing the damage. Chelsea did win at Bolton wanderers 2- 0 at the reebok stadium getting some revenge for their home defeat against bolton. The top 3 have a massive advantage over the rest. Arsenal top of the league have gone 28 games unbeaten. They have a strong midfield and a good defense with kolo toure doing surprising well with Campbell. Only problem is that cygan and keown are not good backup. They both have got no speed for different reason obviously. Henry remains a winger despite the fact that nearly everyone calls him a striker. He is a damn winger. He tends to shift to the flanks, misses a lot of one-2-one against the goalkeeper. Arsene wenger failed again in his quest of landing a striker by buying another winger in reyes. Maybe he enjoys converting players to play in position he wants them to play. He made toure and Lauren defenders and now he wants to convert reyes into a striker. I don?t why he did not buy Defoe from west ham in the first place. Arsenal faces Chelsea next in the champions league , an opponent they have beaten 2- 1 on 3 occasion this season. They also face a struggling united in the fa cup semi and the winner have the easy opportunity of playing against millwall or sunderland in the final. Arsenal next league games at home to bolton a nd Manchester united. If united lose that one they will be definitely out of the championship race. Chelsea may be rich now with roman abramovich as their boss but the club has bought a lot of crap players including the likes of veron, mutu, crespo, makelele among others. They have also been buying a lot of players and have started a business of giving loans to other club. After veron proved to a be a failure at united , they decided to buy him and he has been injured for some time now. Crespo is another Argentinean that is struggling in England. Chelsea failed to beat arsenal in the league this season and meets united in the last week of the season which could decided who finishes second. Mutu and crespo are crap strikers and Chelsea better stirkers forsell and cort are both enjoying loans periods with Birmingham and Charlton respectively. Ranieri is under immense pressure and he could be sack at the end of the seasons. 8 teams are still fighting for the valuable 4th champions league place. Charlton, Newcastle, Liverpool , Birmingham , Fulham , Southampton , Aston villa and Tottenham hotspurs are all within a 5 point distance. Who is going to win this one? Hard to tell as all teams are very unstable and very unreliable. Newcastle lost to spurs last week and Liverpool wins pushed them a bit higher on the table. Newcastle have a been a major disappointment last season as they lost to the champions league qualifying round to partisan Belgrade and since then have been in the UEFA cup. They are doing badly in the there but the fans want champions leagues football at all cost. Chelsea beat Liverpool last season to that last 4th spot by winning 1-0 against the reds at Stamford bridge in the last game. Can lightening strike twice. Middleboro ,Bolton and Everton are jus behind in the table. Bolton and toffees are having not a good season but the same cannot be said about Boro . they finally managed to win a trophy in their 128 years and this is
              a b id milestone in their history. Manchester city big win against united gave them some breathing space at the bottom but many people still fancy them going down. Blackburn rovers have to start winning if they do not winning soon. At the bottom of the table a way battle has developed and the winner get the honour to have another year in the premiership. Leicester never stop to surprise me. First they are off to spain and there their players are involved in a sex scandal and then they play away against Birmingham and manages a 1-0 win. Next they can be the only team to defeat arsenal in the league this seasons. Wolves and portmouth have too many old players and injuries have played a crucial part in there season. Leeds are the last team and are my favourite team to go down. The chairman should have sold all the players on high wages and keep his faith in the young ones. Robinson, viduka and smith are all leaving next season. This would have eased the financial crisis and leeds would have already started prepare their youth for next season. They had a good youth system until david o?leary destroyed it and then left the club in crisis.

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                18.12.2003 00:46
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                AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!! Now I have some idea what Sven and company feel like!!! What a nightmare this has been! Having read lookaroundcafe2's op on the greatest ever XI, I decided to have a bash at my idea of what a UK and Ireland team may look like. Simple I thought. Oh, how I was wrong. I suddenly realised that our wealth of talent wasn't so wealthy. Certain positions just yearned for a certain Brazilian, or an inspirational Italian. Oh dear, I'll have to make do with home talent. Right ten, onto the team...... 1. Shay Given. This was quite a tough decision. Recent greats like David Seaman or Nigel Martyn are now a touch old for this kind of responsibility. Chris Kirkland and Paul Robinson are, in my opinion, ever so slightly too young and inexperienced. There is no doubting that their talents are outstanding, but this role needed a Mr Consistency. Someone who had tasted regular international football at the highest level, and also performed well regularly at club level, both domestically and continentally. Those criteria considered, there was only one choice, Newcastle's Irishman Shay Given. Having made over 250 appearances for Newcastle over the past 6 years, Shay most definitely has the experience required for this role. He has experienced both good and bad times, which is always helpful when in times of need. This experience makes sure the heads don't go down, something which happens all too often with England. Shay has the experience to not let this happen. Shay started out at Blackburn, under Kenny Dalglish. He was just a young lad in those days, and first team football was rare due to the excellent form displayed by Tim Flowers in his peak years. When Kenny Dalglish joined Newcastle, Shay was tempted to go with him for if he wanted international football he had to be playing at club level regularly. His performances were first noticed when on loan to Sunderland during the 95/96 season. He kept goal f
                or Sunderland 17 times, and amazingly kept a clean sheet 11 times. These performances won Sunderland promotion to the Premiership that season. Upon joining Newcastle, not all was plain sailing. After fighting off his competitors for the position, Shay was emerging as a very talented man indeed. Having played in the 98 FA Cup Final, Shay was gutted to miss the following years final, having being displaced by Steve Harper. He missed the start of the next season, but went on to recapture his place midway through the season and kept it to the end. The following year, Shay performed magnificently for Newcastle. These performances earned Shay supporters player of the season. Shay then lost his place in the first team due to injury, again replaced by Steve Harper, a close friend of Shay. After recovering from injury, Shay was left out of the first team twice, due to Harper being in good form. Shay slapped in a hasty transfer request, which was turned down. Steve Harper was subsequently injured in training and Shay was restored to the first team. The following season Shay remained between the sticks and had what was arguably his best season yet in the 01/02 season, playing in every match for Newcastle. Shortly before the World Cup, in which Shay played well, he was to sign a new five year contract with the Magpies. In his time with Newcastle, he has experienced both relegation dogfights and championship challenges, qualities vital for the job. The summer of 2002 saw Shay experience something else vital for the job. The World Cup. The Republic of Ireland went through turmoil immediately before the great competition when Roy Keane was sent home. A massive row between McCarthy and Keane literally exploded, with both parties verbally abusing each other in public places. Despite this unrest, they went on to perform well and reached the second round having qualified from group E. This group contained Saudi Arabia, Cameroon and the team that went on to finish runner
                s up, Germany. The first game saw Ireland draw 1-1 with Cameroon. Cameroon opened the scoring in the 36th minute, through Patrick Mboma, before Matt Holland levelled the scores 16 minutes later in the 52nd. The next game was the toughy, Germany. Given played well in a match that finished 1-1, Miroslav Klose scoring for the Germans, Robbie Keane for the Irish. The hard work had now been done, the Saudis were next. A win here would see the Irish qualify for the second round. The match finished 3-0 to the Irish with Robbie Keane opening the scoring in the 7th minute. Gary Breen added one in the 61st minute, and then Damien Duff finished the match off in the 87th minute. The Irish were drawn Spain in the second round, and another good performance saw them battle to a 1-1 draw. The match went to penalties and the Spanish turned out 3-2 winners. Shay has earned 50 caps so far, making this man perfectly qualified in the experience department. 2. Steve Finnan This is where I cried for that Brazilian. Oh, how I needed Mr Cafu for this role! I was desperately seeking an attacking full back, gifted both technically and tactically, whilst possessing good defensive qualities. I whittled the list of prospective UK and Ireland XI right backs down to two men. It was a toss up between Gary Neville and Steve Finnan. Firstly I hate Man Utd, so Gary already had a disadvantage. He liked to get forward though, and is immensely experienced for his age, having played regularly at both club and international level for many seasons now. He possesses great defensive qualities too, but he still plays for Man Utd!!! Secondly, I am a Liverpool fan so Steve Finnan had an even greater advantage. Like his rival, Steve likes to get forward from defence, and also has vast experience at club and international level. Ok, so Fulham and Eire are easier teams to get into, but it is still playing at the same level of competition. After much deliberation, I decided to go with Steve.
                Not only i s he a Liverpool player now, but his performances for Fulham and Eire really impressed me. He had performed consistently for Fulham since promotion and despite starting the 2002 World Cup second fiddle to Gary Kelly, he played his way into the next match, having come on as a sub. He kept his place and performed to a high level on three more occasions. This quality, determination in the face of adversity, is something needed at this level. To acquire a place in this team, you need to have experienced good and bad. Gary Neville has never experienced a relegation dog fight like Steve has, although he has experienced disappointment at international level with England in the European Championships of 2000. Steve Finnan's versatility to play as both an attacking full back and in midfield is a big advantage he has over Neville. Although Neville himself is versatile in that he can play both centre and right back, the central berths were already taken and there was an abundance of replacements. This was Neville's only required position, and he just doesn't cut it for me. Finnan's ability to play in midfield helps him in his attacking full back capacity immensely. He is better equipped to attack than Neville, his dribbling is superior, along with his crossing ability. Having performed regularly for Fulham on over 200 occasions, the bigger clubs in the Premiership were beginning to be tempted by the talents of Finnan. Ironically, Gary Neville's club, Man Utd, were beaten off by Liverpool in the race for his signature. Just think, if Ferguson had succeeded, Gary Neville may have been playing reserve football now!! Like Ferguson, Houllier had been a long time admirer of Steve Finnan, and the Frenchman acquired Finnan for £3.5 million this passing summer. 3. Ashley Cole Now this was a tough choice. I narrowed the list down to two men once again. I had a choice of Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge. I was a bit dis
                appointed at fi rst, as I have maintained that I wanted experienced players in this team. But the I realised that Ashley Cole was more experienced than I had first thought. He has played 3 or 4 seasons in the Champions League for Arsenal, as well as obtaining regular first team league football. Cole replaced Nigel Winterburn as left back, when Winterburn left to play for West Ham. Ashley Cole arrived at Arsenal as part of the Highbury Centre of Excellence. At the start of his Arsenal career, Cole fancied himself as a striker. However, Ashley was restricted to just a handful of first team appearances, making his debut in 1999 against Middlesborough. As luck would have it, Silvinho sustained an injury in the 00/01 season Ashley Cole was the man who stepped in, semi-retrained into the full back berth. This gave Cole the chance of a good run of matches, and he performed well to retain his place. Wenger must have been delighted. By sheer fortune, he had discovered what has become a gem of a player, and one that can only get better. Some people say his defensive abilities, as well as his temperament, let him down sometimes. I would have agreed if you had asked me this time last season, but the combination of regular football at both club and international level have seen his game come on in leaps and bounds. His temperament is still a bit of a problem though. He can still be seen to make reckless challenges, but his ability to play football more than makes up for that. Let's get this bit out of the way now. Ashley Cole is sheer class. Going forward, he obviously benefits from starting out as a striker displaying a vast array of impressive flicks and skills regularly. His dribbling ability is also excellent, and his crossing is getting better. Tackling wise, I'd say this is where Ashley Cole has improved the most. At the beginning of his career, Ashley Cole was very reckless and his tackling was diabolical at times, thus resulting in several red cards
                in a short career s o far. His positional play was also something that left a lot to be desired at international level sometimes. These areas of his game have really improved in his game, and I would qualify him able to be called a "complete" attacking full back. His other strong qualities include determination and pace. You will rarely see Cole's head go down in a match, fighting (sometimes literally) to the end. Back to the subject of experience, I realised that Cole has featured in three FA Cup Finals consecutively for Arsenal, and for three or four seasons has been first choice left back for Wenger. During this time, he has also played on several occasions for Arsenal in the Champions League. Despite Arsenal's bad luck in this competition until recently, Cole has been one of the consistent performers for the club. This quality is another thing that gets him his place as my attacking left back. Internationally, Ashley Cole is not lacking in experience either. Having been first choice left back under Sven for a while now, he has made over 20 appearances for his country, featuring in every match for England in the World Cup until they were defeated in the quarter finals by Brazil. Cole was one of the performers in this competition too, despite several disappointing performances from others. 4. Roy Keane When I considered who my tough tackling defensive midfielder would be, I had a choice of a few. Firstly, there was Steven Gerrard. He is an awesome player already with what can only be a great career ahead of him if he can stay clear of injury. Along with injury proneness, his inconsistence form keeps him from being included in my team. Nicky Butt was the next choice. That was simple really. If he can't displace Keane from the Man Utd line up, then who am I to argue? So that was it, Keano had his place. Every criteria had been met, and he surpassed the competition by a mile. Keane has known adversity, controversy
                and success at Man Utd t hat a single player rarely experiences. Having won countless championships and cups, both domestically and continentally, Keane has more than enough experience at club level for me. Having played top flight for about ten seasons now, Keane initially struggled to acquire Premiership football. At the start of his career he wrote to all the top flight clubs offering his services. He was thought to small to play however and was to return to Ireland to play for Cobh Ramblers. During his time there, he also found a job where he could lug great big beer barrels about. This action is testament to Keane's personality. His determination is second to none. He was spotted by Nottm Forest at the age of 18 and subsequently joined Man Utd for £3.75m, where he has achieved great success. I will not write too much about Keane, as it may stop you reading my opinion about the great man. For a complete run-down on his career, please read my other op. 5. Rio Ferdinand Rio started his footballing career, believe it or not, as a centre forward and it is rumoured that he would regularly score 30 goals a season. This, of course, wasn't for West Ham, it was for a lowly little team called Bloomfields, his junior team. At the age of fourteen, he signed for West Ham as a schoolboy, and impressed Harry Redknapp enough to secure himself a professional contract at the age of 17. Rio was already used to winning silverware, as he had helped West Ham's youth team win the SE Counties League, with a record points haul in the 95/96 season. On 5 May 1996, Rio made his first senior appearance for West Ham, coming on off the bench against Sheffield Wednesday. Harry Redknapp decided to loan Rio out the following season for a couple of months, partly to get him fit to play for Westh Ham, and partly to give him some experience of competitive league football. He was loaned to Bournemouth and made 9 appearances in his short stint there. He ret
                urned ready for first team foo tball at West Ham and duly slotted into the line up. On 26th November 2000, Rio broke a record. He became the most expensive defender ever when Leeds paid a whopping £18 million. Now, I have to be honest, I thought Leeds were completely off their heads, but looking back now, that was a bargain. Having made almost 160 appearances for West Ham, he was uprooting from London, to move over 200 miles north to Leeds. Within five months, Rio was playing in the Champions League Semi Finals. How far he had come in such a short space of time. The next season was not quite so rosy. Leeds struggled to match the form which had surpassed expectations. Although there was less success on the pitch, Rio's progression into a world class player was never hindered, so much so that there was already speculation linking him with a move away from Leeds to Man Utd, not exactly Leeds' best friends. The transfer, reported before the World Cup, took place after the World Cup had finished in the summer of 2002, where Rio had proved to all what a player he was. Sir Alex Ferguson duly took out the chequebook and paid Leeds £30 million. That was a £12 million profit for Leeds after less than two years, a sound investment when you look at it now. This returned Rio to holding a world record again. When Juventus paid Parma £22 million for Lilian Thuram, it shattered Rio's record by £4 million, but Rio shattered that by a whopping £8 million. Rio's first season with the Red Devils was not exactly all to plan. Rio was the victim of injury and a momentary loss of form, with which regained he proved just how masterful he was, converting a somewhat shodddy defence into Fort Knox, thus steering Man Utd to their fifteenth League win. Only three to go until they equal Liverpool's grand haul. Rio has already made over 200 appearances with Bournemouth, West Ham, Leeds and Man Utd, including a fair amount of Champions League appearances.
                Internationally, Rio has made the c entre back berth his own with a string of performances that don't even give anyone else a look in. Having now made almost 40 appearances for his country, Rio has experienced football at every level, succeeding at every step. There is one black mark on Rio's file however, with the charge of choosing to miss a drugs test still hanging over him. I felt though that you are innocent until proven guilty, so I will include Rio, even if he is a druggie(allegedly) hehehe. 6. Sol Campbell Firstly, I want to get it off my chest that I am not a Sol Campbell fan. I feel he overcomplicates simple matters sometimes, and quite frankly can be clumsy at times. He has cocked up a couple of times for England, and it is not something you expect to see from a world class centre back. So why did I pick him? Because, sadly, we haven't got anybody better to partner Rio than Sol. Now don't get me wrong, I realise that Sol is a very good player, but he is not quite reliable enough sometimes. He is one of the players who I would like to wear his heart on his sleeve, but I realise that this is a silly suggestion for Sol, as not only would it make a bloody mess, but he would die without his heart inside him. So, the choices then... Sol dead or Sol nearly good enough. Well I think dead people can't play international football, and probably wouldn't be much use anyway, so I'll make do with him as he is. Anyway, I've rambled enough, let's get back onto the right subject. Sol is an immense presence in any defence, primarily for his strength and power. I think sometimes he could be more determined, but all in all, he does the job. Having progressed through the Spurs youth system, Sol was a bit of a utility player, accustomed to playing in several positions. He played centre back, left back, and even up front. He finally decided he was best as a centre back and has never looked back. After
                several seasons at Spurs, the London un der-achievers, Sol decided he actually wanted to win some trophies in his career, so when his contract expired he left to join Arsenal on a Bosman free. Spurs fans called him Judas, but I still called him Sol Campbell. Silly Spurs fans, forgetting his name so soon after his departure. This was the best thing he could have done, other than join his other admirers, Liverpool. However Sol was greedy, so Arsenal it was on a stupid amount of money. Since then, Arsenal have joined Man Utd in dominating the English game, and not just down to luck, but a combination of players with the desire to win, the ability to win, and the teamwork to keep their heads up even in bad times. This is one good quality Sol has. You very rarely see Sol's head go down. Sol has made over 300 appearances for Spurs and almost 150 appearances since joining Arsenal. With all this experience, you would expect him to be the wrong side of 30, but you're wrong. He won't be 30 until next September, so here is a man capable of captaincy for the team despite being a player I don't particularly like. Maybe captaincy would bring him out of himself, make him more of a battler. Who knows? Having made nearly 60 appearances for his country, he meets all the criteria regarding experience to slot perfectly into my team. 7. David Beckham "England have a free kick here right at the death. The Greeks are setting up their wall... Up steps David Beckham.." Well we know the rest don't we. He scored, England went to the World Cup. That is what makes Beckham Beckham. He will win you matches that you don't deserve to win, God knows he did it enough times for Man Utd. Even if he isn't scoring these free kicks, or even the penalties he now customarily takes, he is creating chances in one way or another. It may be a terrific 70 yard cross field pass, or a cheeky back heel, or maybe even a corner. It may be the way
                he chases back 60 yards from a forward positi on to win the ball back, and start the counter attack. Once upon a time, however, there was a different David Beckham. I'm talking pre World Cup 1998. He was a much lazier player. He rarely tracked back, and when he did it was half heartedly. He had little grasp of the tactical side of a game and was prone to the odd hissy fit, one of which we were due to see. The whole of that game, the Argies riled him (how are the Falklands by the way), and Beckham reacted. You see, Beckham, for all his ability, had got himself known as a hot head, something which will keep you out of international sides, e.g. Alpay. Well, he did pay didn't he (excuse the pun). This was a pivotal moment for Beckham. The backlash ensuing was nearly unbearable. This was the moment to either make or break the young inexperienced Beckham. He stood up to be counted, and duly was as he sorted his attitude out on the pitch. In that single moment, Beckham's whole game changed. He had something to prove, and boy did he prove it. Anyway back to club football. The 95/96 season saw Alan Hansen tell us "you can't win anything with kids", only to be proved terribly wrong. Not only can you win things with kids, but they won the double that year. The following year saw Beckham scoring "that goal", the goal that everyone has seen a million times, each time slightly more captivating, how the hell did he do that? A lot of people said it was a fluke, I don't. His passing and crossing was at such a level, even then, that I really believe that is where he aimed. He gets all his passes where he wants them and this was merely a pass into an unguarded goal. The man has a brain dedicated to that foot. Admittedly, the one in his head doesn't seem to know much about speech, but the one in his foot certainly knows a bit about football. Beckham went on to make about 400 appearances for the Red Devils, another vastl
                y experienced player also the right side of 30. < br> 8. Damien Duff Paul Scholes, Kieron Dyer, Frank Lampard... The list goes on. Damien Duff this season has been one of the major catalysts to pushing Chelsea to where they are in footballing standards. Through to the second round of the Champions League, and in strong contendership for not only the Premiership, but also expressing the desire for a clean sweep in taking both the Carling and FA Cups. His mazy dribbles and outstanding long shots, as well as his intricate through balls are the fundamental parts of Duff's game. He possesses the pace to trouble most defenders, the skills to match. He tears defences apart at a canter, just ask any Premiership defender, and I'm sure they would rather face someone else. Damien Duff began his career at Blackburn, and with Jason Wilcox packed off to Leeds, he became first choice left winger. He made over 200 appearances for the north west club, before catching the eyes of several of the big guns, including Liverpool and Man Utd. They were put off however by the £17 million release clause which Blackburn were sticking to. Liverpool purchased Kewell for a bargain £5m and Man Utd bought Cristiano Ronaldo for £10 million. It looked like Duff was staying put. The Abramovich entered the world of English football. After rejecting three bids in a week, Blackburn were forced to sell when Abramovich matched the minimum fee release clause and the rest is history. Personally, I think Duff has been Chelsea's best purchase thus far, surpassing fellow greats such as Crespo, Mutu and Makelele. Mutu and Duff have gelled instantly and form a frightening partnership for any team in the world. Let's go back 18 months now to the World Cup of 2002. Roy Keane had gone spare, McCarthy had got tough and the Irish campaign looked in tatters. They claimed they never needed him though, but who knows what would have happened against the Spanish
                had Keano played. Anyway, back to the subject. Duff took it up on himself to become a miracle worker with a football and set the world alight with some breathtaking displays. Defenders shuddered as he gained possession of the ball, strikers relished what wizardry they were about to be part of. You see, Duff is one of the inspirational players of modern football. A George Best, or a John Barnes. You give him the ball and his feet will do the rest. His subliminal dribbling and lightning quick pace are a terrifying combination for any opposition, but couple this with the footballing brain of a Paul Gascoigne and what do you have? I'll tell you what you have. Damien Duff. If there is one man capable of equalling Zidane as the midfield maestro, this is him. 9. Michael Owen Nearly 300 matches and over 150 goals. Add onto that over 50 international caps and you've got yourself a striker who is probably about 30 years old. That's the sort of thing you would expect anyway. But Michael Owen goes totally against all expectation. Having only turned 24 on the 14th of this month, Michael still has half a career ahead of him, yet has achieved more than most people hope for in a full career. He has took over the reign as King of the Kop from Robbie Fowler in true Liverpool style, Players of his ability were often sighted during the seventies and eighties, but the 90s saw something terrible. Liverpool self-destructed. Poor players were brought in, the better players became complacent and just as it looked like Souness had destroyed us completely, along came a batch of super players. Along with Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard and Danny Murphy, Michael Owens emergence has seen Liverpools fortunes change completely. His goals have proved vital in the past few seasons, pushing us closer and closer to the much coveted Premiership title. Michael began his career at Liverpool in the youth team. He played his way into first team football, and with
                several pundits claiming he was too young to command a regular fir st team place, that is just what he did. His first season reaped 21 goals, silencing his critics completely, with maybe the odd twisted Manc still denying his obvious talents. The following season he went two better, hauling in a magnificent 23 goals in for the Reds. Somewhere in the middle of all this came World Cup 98 in France. Picture this scene. Michael Owen picks up the ball just inside the Argentinian half and what does he do? I'm presuming you know your football so you should already know, but just in case you don't, he dribbled past two players and fired in one of the best World Cup goals witnessed by me certainly. Michael Owen, already righteously feared by many, had made his mark. He had arrived. Subsequently, Owen has been the victim of several niggling hamstring injuries, but hopefully the bad times are behind us, and as soon as he regains fitness in the new year, there should be no looking back. Put simply, Owen is to football what ice cream is to strawberries. They were made for each other. Before playing for Liverpool, Michael broke every goalscoring record Ian Rush had ever set while playing at schoolboy level. This was a sign of the prowess of this young man, whose terrific pace and astounding eye for goal make him every defenders nightmare. Admittedly, his first touch isn't perfect he rarely wins headers, but when he does he seems to be getting more on target these days, having recently trained intensively on this section of his game. Michael has recently broke another of Ian Rush's records, having scored 20 goals in European competition. If Michael can stay clear of any major injuries, there is no reason why he can't go on to break every record. What you have got to remember about this man is his age. Alan Shearer made 63 appearances for England scoring on 37 occasions. Michael has earned 53 caps scoring 23 goals. Alan Shearer never really got st
                arted until after about 35 games, with most of his games coming after th is. Just imagine how many goals Owen will score if his peak years are to come, and I believe they are. 10. Alan Shearer Now before you say it, I know he has retired from international football but it's my team so I make the rules. I searched desperately for the man to play alongside Michael Owen and considered several including Alan Smith, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Rooney, James Beattie and Robbie Keane. Taking into consideration the wingers I have, I thought it best to have a striker who would get on the end of these. Smith's temperament lets him down too often, Bellamy can't compete for the crosses, Rooney for me is too young just yet, despite some encouraging performances already for England, and James Beattie just isn't quite what I was looking for, despite possessing good aerial skills. I was looking for the type of player who would create his own chances through sheer determination. I wanted someone who would wear his heart on his sleeve, not in the way I wanted Sol Campbell to though. This man is the best England has seen for many years. Admittedly, if you take away all those penalties from Shearer, his record wouldn't look quite as great as it does, but it would still be great all the same. During the mid 90s, this man score over 30 Premiership goals per season, 3 seasons running. He was the first to 100 Premiership goals, and holds the record for most Premiership goals so far. This man is just one step ahead of any other English striker. His sheer presence on the pitch inspires others. He is the hero we have so often needed in recent times. Instead of Heskey falling over when the ball comes near him, we could have Shearer holding play up while the support arrived. Instead of Heskey being beaten to the header by a smaller player, yet again I hasten to add, we could have Shearer thumping it into the top corner and turning away raising his arm
                in customary Shearer style. The way he holds people off the ball, along wit h his strength, determination and work rate are exactly what you need in a winning team. Alongside Owen and Beckham we would have the three perfect ambassadors for our nations football. What better role models than these three amigos. Anyway, I've spouted my mouth off about Shearers great record, lets give you some stats to back it up. With Southampton, Shearer started quite slowly, scoring 43 goals in 158 starts for the southerners, before Blackburn paid them £3.3 million pounds for his services. What a snip!! Well, most of us would think that a more than reasonable price for him, but Sir Alex Ferguson disagreed and let Blackburn have him. What a mistake that proved to be. 163 starts later, with 130 goals under his belt for Blackburn, and Fergie must have been kicking himself. Imagine how much success he would have had with him spear heading his front line. Anyway, Shearer was to move once more in his distinctive career, joining Newcastle for £15 million. In his first season he scored 25 times in 31 games in the league, and was seemingly worth his world record price tag. In 285 starts, Shearer has scored 161 times. He has been the striker of his generation, living purely to score goals. He has one blemish on his record, a red card he received whilst playing for Newcastle. A solitary blemish on an otherwise perfect career. 11. Ryan Giggs He made his club debut at only 17 and his international debut at the tender age of 18. Since making these respective debuts, only injury has kept him from both sides in a very distinctive career. Giggs seems to have been around forever already, yet only turned 30 last month. Since making his debut in 1990, Giggs has kept his place in the team that has dominated the 90s. His blistering acceleration made him impossible to defend when he got the ball. I once heard him described as a Porsche and the defender described as a
                Mini, when he latched onto a long ball having been a good 15 yards behind the defe nder to star with only a 40 yard run. Quite simply, his pace was astounding, and his acceleration even better. An injury prone player, Giggs has seen his international career stunted, or as some others see it he has stunted it himself. Giggs started out at Manchester City's school of excellence at the age of 14, and when he was informed they would be releasing him at the end of the season, understandably he was a bit upset. That sadness didn't last long though, as Fergie soon came knocking at his door offering a contract. Giggsy jumped at the opportunity and has never looked back. His debut came three years later against Man City, and yes you've guessed it, he scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win for the Reds. Talk about a kick in the face, eh City? Giggs won the Young Player of the Year Award twice, the only player to have achieved this feat to date. Giggs is just the attacking option a team like this needs, and at 30 years of age, many believe he is yet to hit his peak. Well, we'll have to see on that one, but he is more than worthy of a place in this line up. In a 13 year career so far, Ryan has made almost 600 appearances for Man Utd, scoring in excess of 120 goals, and he has also scored on eight occasions for his country during his spell so far. He has made about 50 appearances or Wales now, not bad considering he dodges duty by saying he's injured. After finally shaking off his string of injuries, Giggs has regained fitness fully, playing nearly all of last seasons matches. Despite a big dip in form last season, including "that miss" against Arsenal, when just about every Liverpool fan cheered, Giggs has regained his form to put paid to any rumours his days might have been up. If he is right about his best days being ahead of him, we are surely in for a treat. Well, there you have it, what do you think? Di
                d I hit the nail on the head, or have I lost the plot? Please feel free to tell me, I eagerly await your comments....

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                  27.09.2002 06:42
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                  The idea of putting out a UK football team (as opposed to 4 separate teams) surfaces every few years and is immediately shouted down every time. The logic goes that instead of there being an English, Scottish, Welsh and Northen Irish team we should have UK team. The whole country would get behind it and it would stand a greater chance of winning something. The Welsh and Northern Irish would actually get to cheer at a majot football tournament and Scots would never have to suffer the ignominy of drawing with the Faroe Islands ever again (yes it actually happened). It would also mean that the whole debate over whether the England team should have the UK anthem played woudl go out of the window - but that really is a minor detail. Okay - the arguments for are pretty straight forward - more players to choose from = better chance of winning. I'm just going to look at the current situation and explain why it simply isn't so. First up, pick up a piece of paper and a pencil and take a minute to write down a UK team. Finished? Right - how many non-Englishman? You should have one there - Ryan Giggs. Those of you with Roy Keane down will need to bear in mind that the Republic is not part of the UK. Therefore you probably have a list of 11 such as David Seaman, James or Paul Robinson in goal, a defence that is made up of Campbell, Ferdinand, Southgate, Terry, a Neville and Ashley Cole, midfielders take your pick from Becks, Scholes, Butt, Gerrard, Murphy, Anderton (very funny - always one!) Bowyer, Cole, Hargreaves, Lampard and the token Welshman Giggs, and a front line with Heskey, Fowler, Owen, Smith and Vassell. So there we go - first problem. What does that mean? It means that the peripheral nations get in a strop and support Germany against a team that is basically England. Or it could mean that political correctness leads to the inclusion of sub-standard players on the basis that we can't be seen to be biased. The C
                  ommunity Shield this year saw a whole bunch of players from pretty much anywhere but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Other than Giggs, I can't think of a single player from any of these countries who lines up for Liverpool, Arsenal, Leeds or Man U on a regular basis and even if we widen the search to include weaker squads I certainly can't think of anyone worth including - Bellamy in place of Owen anyone? Not even on the basis of current form thank you (although Bellamy is good with his head). So why the dearth of decent players. One only has to think back to the 1980s when Liverpool won the double with no Englishmen and the likes of Hansen, Rush, Dalglish and Gillespie as regulars. The Scottish League has unfortunately become something of a joke. a month and a half into the season and the only thing that still has to be decided at the top of the table is which part of Glasgow will be singing and how many points will separate the two clubs. Both Celtic and Rangers have come to rely on foreign players more and more. For some reason that I can't fathom their don't seem to be any decent youngsters coming through the ranks. Wales has always been short of a few decent players although they have definitely underperformed. An attack featuring Rush, Hughes, Speed, Giggs and Saunders should definitely have been capable of going further than the nowhere which they seem to have achieved since the 1950s. As things stand at the moment there is precious little to be said that is positive about Welsh football. Northern Ireland - the less said the better. So in conclusion - other than filling that troublesome left midfield spot with Giggs there is nothing to be gained in terms of how well a British team will do. Additionally, football in the periphery will almost disappear off the map and will have no real representation. At a time where the country is decentralising, this breaks a trend. National pride i
                  s growing in Scotland and Wales in particular - taking away one of its symbols would be a bad idea. So let's leave things as they are - everyone apart from a couple of meddling politicians and and few people who know nothing about football prefer it that way. Please feel free to vent your thoughts and tell me all about the talented players who I have ignored - just for the record here is mu UK squad of 23 players for the World Cup were it played tomorrow. Keepers: Seaman, James, Robinson Defence: Carragher, Ferdinand, Campbell, Cole, Woodgate, Bridge, Neville (G) Midfield: Gerrard, Murphy, Beckham, Scholes, Bowyer, Macmanaman, Butt, Cole (J) Attack: Owen, Heskey, Smith, Fowler, Jansen

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                    06.01.2002 04:47

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                    • "The Irish"

                    It will be a "Federal Europe" team next! - Advantages: Ryan Giggs gets to play proper international football - Disadvantages: The Scots, The Welsh, The Irish

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                    05.01.2002 18:32
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                    No way do I want an all British football side. Not in a month of Sundays. And hopefully, the chances of it happening are about as likely as Scotland qualifying for an international championship. We, the Scots, have a great group of fans but not many good players. We have had to resort to picking Englishmen, such as Matt Elliot and Don Hutchison, who went to Scotland for 5 minutes once when they took the wrong turning. The English, on the other hand, have good players (I hate saying that, but they are good) and, apart from a small minority, good fans. So, even though I don't want a British football side, what inceitve is there for the English to want to join forces? Its not just the Scots who don't want it. I am of course, forgetting Wales and Northern Ireland. They probably wouldn't want to join a national side, and the English wouldn't want anything from them, except Ryan Giggs. I keep saying the English wouldn't want them, instead of Scotland wouldn't want them or Ireland wouldn't want them. The reason is it was probably some English bloke who came up with the outrageous idea. I wouldn't want to join England for football, rugby or anything. So while the idea of a British team is silly, here's a question: how many Scots, Wlesh and irish would be against joining the three countries together to make a team, without the English. I wouldn't be against that, as I don't particuarly want to join up with English football. I don't want England to do well in the World Cup, and if Argentina, Nigeria and Sweden hammer them everytime I'd be delighted. Sure it's bias, but it's my opinion. I don't want anything to do with England. I have other reasons, but I'm too polite to share most of them. One of them is they think they'll win every torunament they enter, which isn't true. I don't want to be part of that attitutde ever. Nation
                    al Football Team? No thanks.

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                      06.10.2001 03:04

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                      • lots

                      would lose our teams individality - Advantages: none , none at all , none - Disadvantages: lots, lots, lots

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                      28.09.2001 08:41
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                      The man who first thought of the idea of a British football team is doubtless not a football supporter. I'm not saying it is a bad idea in itself but no self respecting patriotic fan is going to recommend their team be meshed with another no matter what is at stake. Of course it may have been someone from the continent but we wont get into that whole argument..... What is essentially proposed is that England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales would all form together to make one team. Naturally the best 11 players from the countries would be selected and this leads me to our first problem. If we mesh the teams together to create one, many players will not be able to experience the might of international football. How many of the Wales 11 would get into the England team right now? I can only think of one and he was born in England anyway (Ryan Giggs). Then we also have the problem of who decides who is best for the team? England have enlisted a foreign coach but would he really have a clue about the Irish league and the players there? We'd overlook many a great talent in this respect (well, possibly....). It does however mean that the team that is formed will have a better chance of winning things, namely the European and World cups when they come around. But is it worth it? The people who we should really ask are the fans and I can tell you now what the reaction from every fan will be. I'm not talking your armchair guy who wants to have his say despite having never seen a match live, but rather those who have a passion for the game. Any football fan loves their country, its human nature. To be patriotic is one of the most important things in International football and no matter what club you support, England or Scotland or Wales will always be fully supported by almost every member of the country. Even those who arent fans can get behind the national team, remember Euro 96? So how would the
                      se fans feel about their team being meshed into one with 4 others? If you're an England man you probably wouldnt mind, you'd stick Giggs in that problem left sided position and the rest of the team would stay the same, but I cant think of a single Scotsman who would get into the squad let alone the team. With the possible exception of Roy Keane I cant think of any Irishmen either. SUrely thats a raw deal for them? Theres also the fact that it would no longer be patriotic to support a British team, you'd be supporting three teams and not just that of your country. Any pride you got from the teams results wouldnt be half as good as if your own country had the same level of success. Is it fair to rob the fans of their pride? If you want to get really nitty gritty then what about the national anthem, who's will play? I can hardly imagine the Welsh and Scottish wanting to sing along at full voice to god save our queen knowing the historic meaning. We also have the problem of location to face, if you live on the outer edges of Scotland then travelling to London is simply out of the question, and if the fans did get behind the team, where would the venue be that can hold them all? England can easily cram 80,000 people into an important home game, imagine what it'd be like with Scotish, Welsh and Irish fans all wanting to get in aswell! There's also the damage it would do to our club games. While England has a large following for its club games and plenty of money to pump into it to survive, the Welsh and Irish leagues would more than likely collapse without the support of their own national side, its what can often keep the players interested in playing. Overall I think this is frankly an idiotic idea and I dont doubt many fans would agree with me. I want to see England winning against Germany, not Britain. I want to see England crush the Scots, not watch Britain defeat Zimbabwe. We would
                      lose so much by amalgamating the teams that its simply not worth it. I want to see England Scotland in a world cup finals with tension taught enough to cause severe nail deprevation, I want to see an underated Ireland team beat Holland and I want to see the Welsh finally qualify for something (ok, let me stop dreaming now :)). At the end of the day it wont happen, the fans wont let it happen and anyone who attempts to force it would likely end up dead, and thats not a joke with the passion involved in all the British countries when it comes to football. Leave things as they are and lets just get on with winning the world cup. Come On England........

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                        23.09.2001 00:24

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                        Home > Sports and Outdoors > Sports Forum > U.K. Football Team U.K. Football Team Ø Rating: Recommendation: 42% We ask whether the countries of the United Kingdom should unite to form a national football squad. Write Your Opinion More Opinions... Don't worry - it's not going to happen Be the first to rate this opinion! Advantages: British team could enter olympics, Robbie Savage could end up playing in the World Cup (ha!), 1% more chance of winning World Cup Disadvantages: who cares about the olympics?, leads to regional fury!, political meddling Product Rating: written on 22.09.01 by grahamp3 View comments This hairy old chestnut raises its head whenever some attention seeking politician fancies seeing his or her name in the papers. It's also used by British football authorities as an excuse never to send a united team to the Olympics. The real reason is that the fans wouldn't go for it, the players aren't interested and the clubs would definitely fight against it, as fixture lists are already too crowded and they don't want players disappearing to compete in the relatively small-time Olympic football competition. More importantly, a UK team wouldn't ignite the passions that following the individual nations do, but would fuel resentment and indifference. This leaves aside the question of whether a united team would actually fare any better than England. Even for selfish footballing reasons, combining the countries' resources wouldn't give the UK a better chance of lifting a major trophy. Dream on FIFA, dream on know nothing politicians, and don't worry Scotland, you'll never have to cheer on a team of eleven sassenachs under the union flag! Price: N/A Recommend to a friend: No

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                        17.09.2001 00:48
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                        THE NATION IS READY FOR THE 2010 WORLD CUP, WHERE THE UNITED KINGDOM COME IN AS ONE UNITED NATION. CAN THIS FORMULA BE ENOUGH TO DEFEAT THE LIKES OF BRAZIL AND FRANCE? I could just imagine some commentator saying the above if there were ever to be a United Kingdom football team. I state as from now that I am 100% against the idea, I have my reasons and so here they are. It says on my passport I am from the United Kingdom, my residence being Paisley, Scotland. So should my nation team, not be the nationality stated on my passport, I think not. The UK is a United Kingdom, though really it’s not. England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are four very different countries, and more importantly have four very different styles of playing football – domestically and nationally! For a moment, let’s say that that all four nations did come as one for a national football team. Who would manage such a team? Who would play in such a team? Where would games be played and most importantly how would the supporters feel? I’ll answer all these questions individually now. WHO WOULD MANAGE SUCH A TEAM? Well let me see, I know the world has a lot of great managers to whom are greatly respected. We could looks at the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Peter Taylor, Martin O’Neill, Sven Goran Eriksson, Alex McLeish and well Tom Hendrie! These managers are a few of the best in the United Kingdom and I’m sure all could do a job for a team like this. However, would you choose a British manager as well, they are going to be bias towards their only country aren’t they? If you went for a foreigner say like Sven, then you are more likely to have a mix of the nations in theory yes? It would be a very difficult decision for the FA me thinks, or the SFA or erm the UKFA? WHO WOULD PLAY IN SUCH A TEAM? I don’t ask this in a rhetorical sense! I really would like an answer. The tea
                        m would most probably be mainly English players, or should I say Liverpool players? The only outsiders to England I could see would be Giggs, Don Hutchison and Gary Naysmith. Of course, all of those are Premiership based? I won’t be the last to admit the Scottish game lacks mostly everything of the English, competition, flair and enjoyment sometimes. This is why I wouldn’t want the Scottish game to go yet further behind, as capable players were only getting runs out at Hibs and hearts, and not getting to run out for their national side! WHERE WOULD THE GAMES BE PLAYED? I think the answer to this would probably be in every country. As it stands, England are playing in the millennium stadium anyway. Though we would probably have games at Wembley (when it’s finished) and Hampden too. I mean, they would have to accommodate for the whole of Britain and say not just England. I think you can see the complications already arising! HOW WOULD THE SUPPORTERS FEEL? I am a proud supporter of the Tartan Army, and I for one would not like to see a UK national team. I take pride is being a supporter of my nation, the football may not be good but the banter is superb. I know as a Scotland supporter, we’re not going to win events like the World Cup and so it comes as no surprise when we do badly, it’s the same with St Mirren. Expectations would be raised if all the nations came together and the proud name of Scotland would be lost within the name of the United Kingdom. I know countries likes Wales and Northern Ireland may see this as a benefit, as their success even more limited than that of Scotland. However, would the English like this? I again think not. England has an extremely good football team and probably don’t see why the need of it too change. A UK team would be mainly English, though if any events won other countries would also get recognition for it. I fear they would feel a l
                        ittle betrayed. So on the whole, I think the idea is not worth the paper it’s written on. I know others will have different opinions on this. So I conclude in saying, let us all continue our independence and not go as far as saying, shouldn’t they be a European team or a world team to play the aliens? Let is rest and let us all play in peace.

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                          18.07.2001 17:35
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                          • "Will never work in practise"

                          Having a combined team of all four home nations (England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland) is an interesting, but impractical idea. Some people would love to see a better team and it would represent unity, whereas others think it will crush national identity and will not work at all. Of course there are both plus factors and minus factors, however I feel that although it has certain attractions Jack Straws idea will never happen in reality. --------------------------------------------- Pros 1. For starters having a combined UK team would increase the chances of success in major international competitions. Lets face it Wales and Northern Ireland haven’t qualified of the World Cup in over 25 years, and both England and Scotland may have to go through the playoffs for World Cup 2002. Even their record in major competitions is not good, Scotland have never got past the group stage in any major competition, and England have had little success since Italia 90. A combined UK team would have a better chance of success that if the teams all tried to go it alone. Having a combined team would also give individual stars in a poor team a chance to shine on the biggest stage, a chance which they would not have had if they had played for their home country. Ryan Giggs and George Best spring to mind as good players that could succeed at a UK team but not their own. Look at my selection for a UK team, and it does look fairly impressive. GK - Neil Sullivan (Scotland) RB – Gary Neville (England) LB - Ashley Cole (England) CB - Matt Elliot (Scotland) CB - Rio Ferdinand (England) RM - David Beckham (England) LM - Ryan Giggs (Wales) CM - Paul Scholes (England CM – Steve Gerrard (England) ST - Michael Owen (England) ST – Emile Heskey (England) Subs Nigel Martyn (England) Kieron Dyer (England) Don Hutchinson (Scotland) Gary Speed (Wales) Joe Cole (England)
                          Aaron Hughes (N Ireland) David Healey (N Ireland) Wes Brown (England) Barry Ferguson (Scotland) Apart from the line up being mostly English, you can’t say this is a bad team. Giggs will be excellent on the left wing, Ferdinand and Elliot would form a solid pairing at the back, and Sullivan is an excellent keeper. Some people may think I’m being a bit biased on selection, so many English players, but if you have a selection committed for the squad selection, and one manager to select tactics and the starting 11 it could work. 2. The Olympics. We compete at the Olympics every four years as Great Britain and Northern Ireland, so why not at football? Our athletes willingly compete as a united UK team, and this could be extended to football. Also we all have British passports, not Welsh or Scottish passports, so we could easily be united to play football. Just an idea it will probably never be taken up, but there are examples that competing as a UK team can prove more successful, and the division of our nations is not that wide in economic terms. --------------------------------------------- Cons 1. Loss of national identity. All the nations fans will not be willing to give up their team, as it is a sign of what they are. They will not want to lose this and having just one UK team instead of individuals will damage this. Scottish fans are passionate about their team, with wigs, tartan and so on at all their matches, as are the Welsh and English passionate about their football. This is something they will not be able to do as part of a UK team. All fans will have to come together to unite, and many will not, so the team will have less support. No fans could be passionate about a UK team, it is to general a term, it has to be either England, Wales or Scotland. Particuarly if the team is a majority of English and Scottish players, will the Northern Ireland and Wales fans want to watch only one or twoo
                          f their players? Also for the players it is a great honour to represent their county, and many will miss out on this as you are filling only 11 places instead of 44. Many fans will lose their passion for supporting a joined UK team, and the game and the team will suffer as a result. 2. Safety. If you combine the teams then you have to combine the fans. There is not exactly any love lost between the fans, and putting them all in the same end together could result in problems. It will be like trying to control 5 different teams, not just 2 for the police at matches, and a security nightmare. Also all the fans of all four nations will want to see the games at the ground, and as you are combining four teams into one ground, it will not fit, and many fans will be left disappointed. There are many other aspects that are impractical, such as team selection, who will be manager, where to play home games, qualifying groups and the list goes on, as well as the moral dissatisfaction of seeing the teams combined. 3. Domestic football. Rangers and Celtic want to join the English Premiership, and most of the Welsh and Northern Ireland players play in the English football league. A UK national league could be a good idea if the idea is to work, but the Welsh and Irish and most of the Scottish teams are not good enough to play in the third division, so would be hard to work out a fair way. It is silly to have a Welsh league and no Welsh national team, so if the UK team was introduced, this needs to be covered. 4. Loss of history. England and Scotland played the first international, and after all England invented the game, and it would be such a pity to lose over 100 years of history in forming a united UK team, as they have all been competing as individual nations since the game was invented. Sure they may not be the best in the world, but we all have unique history that is in this game, and should not be removed. The UK combined team will erase all this
                          , so should not be allowed to happen. --------------------------------------------- Overall Jack Straws idea for a united UK football team is an interesting one, but one that will never happen. There are far to many complications, and the cons far outweigh the pros. I hope it never does happen competitively, and the four home nations continue to compete in the World and European Cups and qualifying as separated nations, but I am still interested in the prospect of a combined UK team that could play one off friendly matches or challenges. Also I would like to see a UK Olympic team, as there is an age restriction it would give youngsters a chance to play competitive matches for there nation and as we compete in the Olympics as Great Britain we would have to form a combined team for this. Overall I still hope that a proper UK team is not introduced, it would be a loss to the fans, and would damage the game, rather than improve it. It has its advantages, but sorry it will just not work in practise.

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                          We ask whether the countries of the United Kingdom should unite to form a national football squad.