The influence of foreigners on football in England cannot be underestimated. While Coach Fabio Capello has guided England through the qualifiers and instilled a winning mentality amongst the players, the skills of English players such as Wayne Rooney and the presence of leaders like John Terry must also be credited with the change in England’s fortunes. It could very well be a combination of Don Fabio’s managerial skills, the quality of the players at his disposal and the maturity of certain players. The time is ripe for the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard to deliver for England.
On the club level, the English Premiership has in excess of 330 foreign players representing over 60 countries while the English makeup less than half of the league’s total eligible players. The contribution of non-English footballers has been enormous with Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Gianfranco Zola, Didier Drogba, and Fernando Torres, just to name a few, all providing the fans in England with numerous highlights. While such classy players brought flair and showmanship to the game, the core values of the English game, in particular hard work, drive and commitment to the team, the fanatical support of the fans and their dedication to their clubs, have all meshed well together to transform the English clubs into perennial challengers on the European front. Manchester United lifted the Champions League twice since 1999 while Liverpool won it once with a further appearance in the final (both Arsenal and Chelsea also made it to the final in recent years). The positive displays and achievements in Europe are a sign of the new heights reached by football clubs in England to the pleasure of local fans.
Off the pitch, foreign owners have invested heavily in English clubs with Manchester City and Chelsea the leading example of the exuberant funding provided by some of those tycoons. Roman Abramovich has spent a fortune to turn Chelsea into a contender and helped the London outfit win the league title for the first time in several decades while the past several months have seen extravagant sums paid by Manchester City’s owner Dr. Al-Fahim. Foreign ownership extends beyond those two clubs to include Liverpool and Manchester United among others.
The foreign element has brought the skills of talented footballers to England and provided some clubs with massive funding while putting to good use the core characteristics of football culture in England, basically the loyalty and fervent support of English fans, the unrefined and raw talent along with the fighting spirit of English players. Simply put, diverse talent from around the world has been “coming home” to football’s motherland to provide high quality entertainment.
The English game had the fundamental ingredients needed to move forward and was only missing a key component to become a successful recipe. With the combination of local flavor and foreign infusion, the elements of success have finally aligned together. England’s Premiership has overtaken Italy’s Serie A in many ways according to well-respected critics, and that certainly is no easy feat considering the quality of Italian clubs just a few years ago.