English footballer Emile Heskey did the noble thing this week by announcing his retirement from international football. Despite lots of criticism, Heskey was a stalwart for England, making 62 appearances for his country between 1999 and 2010 and contributing a large number of assists and seven goals. He’ll be remembered as a man who always gave his most for his country and has nothing to be ashamed of.
For England to turn a new leaf and begin building a squad that will mark a new generation of English international footballers, it’s imperative – in my opinion – for some of the current England team to also retire. This will then allow new players to come up through the ranks and gain necessary playing time at the highest level.
I’ve often said that the England u-21 side has, for a long time, played much better than the full international squad. The u-21 team has shown much more pace, better technical ability and, most importantly of all, play better as a team than the group of individuals that the England national team play like.
So to give players a chance to compete at the national level, footballers such as Jack Rodwell, Lee Cattermole, Jack Wilshere, Chris Smalling, Andy Carroll, Daniel Sturridge and others, here are my recommendations of which current England national team players should consider retirement:
- David James (age 39): While goalkeepers can often play into their forties, James needs to leave to give Joe Hart more of a chance to get playing time.
- Jamie Carragher (age 32): Carragher still has the technical skills to defend well, but he no longer has the pace that’s needed so much at international level.
- Frank Lampard (age 32): While still a wonderful servant at Chelsea, his age is a factor especially when you consider that he would be 36 in World Cup 2014. It’s time for Lampard to leave to give opportunities for younger midfielders to gain necessary match experience at the highest level.
- David Beckham (age 35): The reality is that Beckham will never be a starter again for England. The best hope is that he comes on as a late substitute in each game. So why sacrifice a younger footballer who can play 90 minutes for someone who will only get less effective as each year passes?
- Rio Ferdinand (age 31): Ferdinand has been struggling with injuries for more than a year, and it’s time for him to face reality that he’s never going to be as good or as fit as he was a few years ago when he was at the top of his game.
- Ledley King (age 29): Like Ferdinand, King is too injury prone to compete at the highest level.
- Matthew Upson (age 31): Upson had his chance to shine at the 2010 World Cup and, although he scored one goal, he lacked pace and know-how against Germany.
None of the above players should be ashamed if they retired from international football at this stage in their career. Each has performed well for his country, but it’s time for them to move on. It’s time for a new breed of England national team players to come through the system. It’s time for a transitional period in the England national team structure. It’s time for new blood.
Do you agree or disagree with the above choices? Are there other current England national team players not listed above that you feel should retire? Click the comments link below and share your opinion.