This week a clip from BT’s Premier League Tonight show has been going viral, shared by fans, pundits, and ex-players alike. The concept is simple. Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, and Steven Gerrard are asked about their England days, and why the ‘golden generation’ failed to deliver. The question wasn’t pulled out of thin air but was asked because of an interview with Rio that had taken place only earlier that week. In it, he talked about his friendship with Frank, and how it broke down during their playing days because of the club/country divide.
All three players were quite to the point in their responses, and their reasons were many. One was the issue raised by Rio in his previous issue. All three players were key players at top Premier League clubs, and Rio and Frank especially were jostling for the league each year with Manchester United and Chelsea respectively. In a league where the two sides shared the trophy, often with just a few points between them, neither player wanted to give up any secrets or show weakness to the other. This would mean avoiding each other whilst with the national team, eating apart, and would cause team factions to start appearing.
Jake Humphrey reacted with the shock that most England fans would. “So, were you effectively putting your club before your country?” he asked them all. They all immediately recoiled “no”, but all agreed that it would have hampered the national team. They listed off plenty of other reasons for the team’s failure: managers, formations, plans, injuries, and the expectations from the fans themselves. But it raises the age-old question, is a club now more important than a country?