‘Whatever happened to local talent taking the world of football by storm’, asks Kieran Topper

Group of teenage boys having a kick about with a football. D107688R

Remember a time when home-grown footballers played for the clubs they supported as children, since they first kicked a ball at school? No? Neither do I. Football has changed and, unfortunately, not for the better.
Of course, it is exhilarating to see the raw talent of foreign players such as Ozil, Sanchez and Aguero, but what ever happened to local talent taking the world by storm?
Past generations were lucky enough to have witnessed the likes of George Best, a Hibs player who went onto bigger and better things, like Manchester United. Gary Lineker is another example. A young Leicester City fan who played for his childhood club, moved to Barcelona and captained his country.

Show me Paul Pogba do that. On top of this, people fail to realise the devastating affect this has on a lot of people. You can have a boy at the age of 10 train pro-youth with a club, go through the club’s player development system until their 17-19 and tell them after years and years of training that they didn’t make the cut, due to cheap signings of better players.
Now, you may be thinking that, of course, the better player should get the contract, whether he’s from that club’s country or not, and you’re right, quality should be what counts. It’s just down to the simple fact that no one else has this problem.

Not one other country in the world has a development system as embarrassing as Britain’s and especially Scotland’s.

For example, French teams such as Lyon and Paris Saint Germain are certainly not jumping at the chance to sign British players over French players, because they don’t need to. Most countries see the importance of home-grown players but it seems that Britain has forgotten.
When managers were put under scrutiny about home grown players, some big names found themselves under the spotlight. Such as Pellegrini, the ex-Manchester City manager, who said that “home grown players are all far too expensive”. Now let’s talk Manchester City. A small club with an average team who for years found themselves struggling with relegation. Enter Sheikh Mansour, the deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. When he bought Manchester City, the club had more money than most other clubs in the world and this sudden bank balance immediately elevated them to the top of the Premier League. Was this down to Manchester City’s innovative investment in developing players from a young age? No, it was because they bought the league. Manchester City spent over £181,000,000 on their new squad and not one home-grown player was to be seen. As soon as big names starting moving to the club, many home-grown player’s careers were over before they even started.

A home grown player who played for Man United from the age of seven

Club rivalry plays a big part in how modern day transfers in football has panned out. Think logically, what are the chances of Celtic selling Rangers one of their best players? Arsenal selling Tottenham one of theirs? If you don’t know a lot about football the answer is, not very likely. When rival clubs sell each other players, prices go up and decency goes out the window. Players are used as puppets whilst the clubs just flex their muscles and argue over whose income is greater. This, of course, drives clubs to look for alternative methods. The main one of course being buying players from elsewhere. The problem of the lack of home-grown players was so big that in 2013 the ‘Homegrown Player Rule’ was introduced into the Premier League. This states that all clubs must have at least 8 home-grown players in their squad but this hasn’t solved the problem. There is still a lack of local talent and its affects can be felt on the pitch.

Kieran Topper

Kieran is an aspiring journalist from Castlemilk. He is studying Journalism at Glasgow Clyde College, Cardonald Campus. His focus is mainly the entertainment and sports areas of journalism. He is inspired heavily by companies like Sky Sports and Rolling Stone and smaller websites like Football Whispers and Consequence of Sound. Kieran sub-edits for the Sports Department, writes for both the Entertainment and Creative Writing Departments and hopes to be editor of the Opinion department. Kieran, when he finishes his studies of journalism, hopes to become a sports journalist at BT, Sky or ESPN and possibly even go on to do football or MMA punditry. Should he decide he prefers the entertainment side however, writing for Rolling Stone magazine whether it’s doing album reviews or movie reviews would be the dream. Kieran would one day also like to try his hand at being an author.

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