Is it just me, or has the shine really gone from watching international football?
Does anybody really care that much about it anymore?
Would you lose sleep if they said it would be gone tomorrow?
I for one, certainly wouldn't.
When I was a kid, the thought of the likes of John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, Steve McMahon etc., all pulling on the "Three Lions" and playing in the same England side used to fill me with sheer pride.
I'd always be the first to get the new England strip, and would hastily organise "international" matches with the "enemy" from the top end of my old housing estate, just to try and get the feel of what it meant to be an England player.
Ah, halcyon days.
Now though, the international break appears to be more of a hindrance than anything else.
With footballers having more money than sense, appearing on most of the front (and back) pages of our wonderful newspapers, the term "celebrity" doesn't do these guys justice. And yet, we are expected to believe that they actually care when they pull on the England shirt.
That it actually means something.
I doubt whether we will ever see another Terry Butcher—head bandaged, blood teaming from an open wound in his forehead as he and his men fought to get England to another World Cup.
Now it seems as though all footballers are interested in is where their next million is coming from. Gone are the days when stars turned out for their country for simple expenses and the joy of winning a cap.
Before the last World Cup, punters may remember that the playing staff actually negotiated their win bonuses with the FA before they went to play in the 2006 tournament.
And they say patriotism is dead...
My take on this is simple—the joy of playing for and representing one's country should be a source of incredible pride, not another means of boosting one's bank balance!
Is it any wonder that the FA are now looking to the nation's suckers—sorry parents—to spend yet another £50 to deck the country's children out in the new England shirt? It's to help pay for the England team's expenses—and each and every time we fall for it!!
International breaks only serve to break up the excitement of the league season. It invariably leads to players returning injured to their respective wage-paying clubs, and it can in some cases disrupt teams form during crucial parts of the year.
I sit with beer in hand, anxiously awaiting the return of Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa, Pepe Reina, Albert Riera, and Fernando Torres, and praying they don't get injured for the crucial Premiership title run-in.
As I said before, if international football was gone tomorrow, I for one wouldn't lose any sleep...