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Carragher: This England team is different to when I played

Jamie Carragher (Image: Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher reckons the current England side is a team for the whole nation to get behind, unlike the divided bunch he used to play with on international duty.

He told the Daily Telegraph:

I want England to beat Denmark and win the tournament this weekend. I will be gutted for all of the players and staff if they do not see it through because there is no reason why anyone from this country would not be 100 per cent behind this manager and his players.

Over the last two major tournaments, this group has stirred feelings in me which I cannot recall for any other England team. It is not patriotism, but something else – a sense of being able to identify with the values and character of Southgate and his squad. These players possess an ability to unify the nation unlike any other in my lifetime.

When I was playing, we were a divisive, spiky bunch. We tended to be outspoken on club affairs. Manchester United and Everton supporters did not like me, and I understood that because I would never resist a dig at their team in interviews. No fans other than those of Manchester United liked Gary Neville!

Everyone saw Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal players in an England shirt. Now they see England players who happen to play for Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal. The players are more polished and savvy in how they are represented and conduct themselves. Sometimes that might make it appear like there are fewer characters than in previous eras. As a harmonising force, that has helped them.

In their subtle but determined way, players like Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson have taken on issues which chime with those who previously felt the England team was for someone else, not them. Sterling has taken on the racists. Rashford will be applauded when he plays at a full Anfield for his work on food poverty. Henderson has been commended around the country for his campaigning on behalf of the NHS.

They are are modern professionals, approachable and likeable. It is impossible for me to watch Harry Maguire leading the defence, Kalvin Phillips making a name for himself in midfield and the rise of Harry Kane to superstar status and not to be enthused by their stories. Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham have taken risks by going abroad at the start of their careers – unthinkable for teenage England players 20 years ago.

Southgate and his players have constructed a new idea of what the English national team is, so much so that the politicians who criticised them for bringing various social issues to the fore are now desperately trying to associate themselves with this winning team. Fans around the country can see through that hypocrisy.


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Publish date : 2021-07-07 19:17:15

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