WE’VE GOT TO GIVE OUR KIDS A CHANCE
AS A kid coming through at Notts County in the early 90s, I had to battle pretty hard to make it pro. But compared to the youngsters of today, I had it easy.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the increasing number of foreign players has stunted the growth of young English lads, especially at Premier League and Championship level.
It baffles me when you see a team line up in the Premier League and the entire XI come from abroad. Not because I’m xenophobic or anything sinister like that. Simply because, as a country, I think we have a duty to support the development of our own youngsters.
We’ve been blessed with some great foreign talent in this country and nobody is saying we should ban it altogether.
You look at people like Gianfranco Zola, Thierry Henry, David Ginola – nobody can say they haven’t been a benefit to English football.
But there has to be a balance. Yes, let’s invite the best players to come and show what they can do. But let’s not have foreign players signed to fill gaps in a squad, sitting down in the reserve league or playing in the Under-21s as an over-age player.
That’s no benefit to anyone. It’s just denying somebody the chance to develop. And that’s all they need. You look at somebody like Jamie Vardy, who’s been right down through the Non-League pyramid. These lads are more than capable but if you don’t try them, you’ll never know.
For now, all I can do is my small part. I’ve just started working as an Under-21 coach at Cardiff and the club have said they want a supply line of players for our manager Russell Slade. That’s great to hear and hopefully I’ll be seeing some of my lads out on the pitch soon.
Long term, I’d like to see rules whereby a certain amount of players in any first-team squad must be English. Foreign players are great, but our own shouldn’t suffer as a result.