Ian Wright's column in the Sun has caused some consternation today, as he addressed Harry Redknapp's claims that some current Premier League players do not want to play for England.
The former Arsenal sharp-shooter suggested that the next young player who voluntarily excludes himself from international duty should be forced to make a phone call to the parents of a soldier who has died in Afghanistan and "tell them his reasons", as if the availability of footballers for international selection is at the top of the list of things for them to be worried about.
I find it shocking anyone should want to turn their back on the chance to play for England.
It’s something I will never understand. I have no doubt Harry Redknapp is telling it the way it is when he says players asked him to make excuses for them so they can duck out of international duty.
I appreciate Harry does not want to breach confidentiality by naming and shaming — although, let’s be honest, we could all probably take a good guess by going through the names of the players who were involved with England when he was at Spurs.
But we shouldn’t have to. They should have the guts to come out in public and say ‘I don’t want to represent my country and this is why’.
He then went on to give a justification for his use of the Afghan War as an example of selfless commitment to the national cause:
I’m sure some people will read this and think ‘Get off your high horse, Wrighty’.
And they’ll probably say I’m out of order for mentioning Afghanistan in this context. But think of the sacrifice Our Boys made and then consider whether a bit of stick from the fans and media is such a terrible thing to face.
There are millions of fans who would happily pay for the privilege of wearing the Three Lions on their chest.
I’m not questioning the desire of anyone out here (in Brazil) with England.
They gave it everything they had but they were undone by world-class players. It still hurts but you can’t accuse them of not trying.
But the guys who threw a ‘sickie’ to get out of international duty are no better than those Cameroon players (knocked out early after initially refusing to play over bonus disputes).
They should all hang their heads in shame and then take a good long look at themselves and sort out a proper, decent set of priorities.
Maybe a man comparing football to the loss of life in importance needs to sort out a proper, decent set of priorities.