Many think that the English Premier League is the best league in Europe at the moment, and it's quite hard to disagree.
They have the best stadiums, facilities, pitches, TV coverage, kits, and merchandising. Oh, and they have many of the best players, too.
Tickets don't come cheap when compared to other countries, but a large crowd will regularly attend every game. Cup, league, or league cup, it doesn't make much difference.
In each of the last five years, the Champions League final has featured at least a Premier League club. In 2008, it was a local affair between Chelsea and Manchester United.
But when it comes to international football, it's a completely different story. England has not won a single trophy since their home-based (and much debated) 1966 World Cup triumph. A team which included some of the best-paid footballers in the world failed to even QUALIFY for Euro 2008.
Proud Englishmen may not like to hear this (though I'm pretty sure they're aware), but a lot of their local players are extremely overrated and overpaid.
Here's a list of the 10 most overrated English footballers still playing the beautiful game (and earning much more money and respect than they should).
P.S. "Overrated" doesn't necessarily mean "rubbish". Well, maybe in just a couple of cases...
Canadian-born Owen Hargreaves first made his name with German giants Bayern Munich as a young, energetic box-to-box midfielder.
In summer 2007, Alex Ferguson spent some serious money on this versatile player in his eternal quest for a successor of the legendary Roy Keane. As of January 2010, the quest still continues.
In all honesty, Hargreaves' time at United has been hampered by injuries, but his performances for both club and country (a somewhat surprising 42 caps) have been fairly anonymous. For £17 million, you were really expecting something better.
I'm not saying he's a bad player, by any means. Back in the early 2000's, Barry emerged as a classy defender, and I really thought he had a great touch. For a defender, that is.
Almost 10 years later, Barry has established himself as a highly (over)rated central midfielder, has earned a £12 million transfer to Manchester City (not to mention the Man City kind of wages) and is undisputed first choice for England in the heart of midfield.
I don't know, maybe it's just me, but...is everybody out there 100 percent sure that Barry has the skills to be a key midfielder at such a high level? Well obviously I'm not, and Gareth stands proud (?) at No. 9.
Is that a joke? England's number 10? Seriously, how bad does that No. 10 look on Big Emile?
Heskey has always been an extremely useful player: a strong, hard working forward, an ideal target man, an unselfish lad, and a good teammate.
The problem is, he can't score to save his life, and I'd say it's not a minor issue for a striker. Well, he has actually scored more than 100 goals in the EPL. Of course, it took almost 500 games.
Heskey joined Liverpool in 2000 for £11 million, and is enjoying a long & lucrative career in Premier League (currently with Aston Villa).
He boasts 57 international caps and right now is set to make Fabio Capello's squad for the upcoming World Cup. Again, is that a joke?
You understand there's definitely something wrong in modern football when a club spends almost £17 million on a player like Darren Bent.
A powerful, pacy striker with an uncanny talent for acrobatic finishing and missing open goal chances, Bent repaid Tottenham with a couple of uninspiring seasons. He was eventually sold to Sunderland for another impressive £10 million.
And of course, Bent is likely to be a member of England's squad in South Africa next summer.
Wes Brown joined Manchester United at the age of 12. After almost 20 years he's still there, witnessing (I could not write "playing") top class football in a top class club while earning top class money.
An inconsistent, unreliable, injury-prone defender, Brown usually plays the centre back and right back positions, ineffective at both.
Over 300 appearances for one of the greatest clubs in the world, 21 caps for England, and still a chance to be part of the 2010 World Cup squad.
Live the dream, Wes.
Back in the early 2000's, Leeds United boasted a young, talented squad which included the likes of Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Jonathan Woodgate, Michael Bridges, Eirik Bakke, and Alan Smith.
Smith emerged as an enthusiastic young striker with the ability to come off the bench and provide his fighting spirit, energy, and goals.
In summer 2004, he joined Manchester Utd for £7 million. While his spirit and energy were still there, it became evident the goals were gone for good.
Ferguson tried to re-invent Smith as a holding midfielder, with little effectiveness. After three seasons, 61 games and seven goals, Newcastle United were still willing to pay £6 million for the striker.
Currently, Smith captains the Magpies in the Championship, playing mostly as a defensive midfielder. After 60 league appearances with Newcastle, he's yet to score his first goal for the club.
Gary Neville's little brother amassed almost 400 appearences for Manchester United; he managed 59 international caps having been England's first choice left-back for some time (despite being completely awkward on the left) and currently captains Premier League side Everton playing as a midfielder.
Like Wes Brown. Just even more overrated.
During the 1998 World Cup, 18 year-old Michael Owen displayed some amazing performances, including a fantastic goal against Argentina, which was probably the goal of the tournament.
After a dozen years, it's safe to say that Owen never managed to replicate that kind of form with consistency through his career.
Wonderboy has played for clubs like Liverpool, Real Madrid, and Manchester United, has scored 40 international goals, and even won the prestigious Ballon d'Or award (like Baggio, Messi or Ronaldo, but also like Papin or Sammer). An illustrious career, indeed.
A career which also includes zero championships, one relegation with Newcastle, and poor performances for England in major tournaments (excluding his 1998 heroics).
Probably the best goalkeeper in the world of fashion models, David James boasts more than 500 Premier League appearances and 49 international caps. Despite being 39, he's likely to be England's first choice keeper for the upcoming World Cup.
An impressive list of achievements for a talented goalkeeper who never really found the time to develop that small, insignificant GK skill: catching a football.
I never really understood the greatness of a paceless winger who never even attempted to dribble past a single defender.
Beckham won any kind of trophies with Manchester United, mostly taking corner kicks and free kicks while Scholes, Keane and Giggs (now that's what I call a world class winger) dominated the midfield.
We're talking of a player who couldn't make the difference in the American MLS while his former teammate Giggs, two years his senior, was winning another championship, and the PFA Player of the Year award as well.
While you may not trust the conjectures of an amateur italian writer which also happens to be an amateur winger, you may be interested in the opinion of one of the greatest wingers in the history of the game, Man Utd legend George Best (R.I.P.)
"He (Beckham) cannot kick with his left foot, he cannot head a ball, he cannot tackle and he doesn't score many goals. Apart from that he's alright."