Club vs Country: That old debate

This debate is now about as old as the nature vs nurture argument, but yet again we see it rear its ugly head in the form of 19-year-old Raheem Sterling.

The Liverpool youngster asked to sit out of yesterday’s Euro qualifier against Estonia as he was ‘feeling tired’, and was substituted at half time along with fellow Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson in the game before against San Marino.

There is history recently between this particular club and the England squad, when earlier in the season forward Daniel Sturridge was injured while on international duty, which lead to Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers blaming the Three Lions coaching staff for overworking him.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After Rodgers added this pressure to England manager Roy Hodgson, the playing time of two of Liverpool’s main men has been significantly lower, leading me and many others to ask the question of whether Hodgson has given in to the clubs demands.

Of course we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, but I would hazard a guess that Sterling was in line to start the game before he played the old ‘tired’ card the day before the match.

But an even more poignant question comes to the front of my mind during all of this.

What has happened to representing your country being the pinnacle of you career?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I was utterly dismayed earlier in the year when ex-captain Steven Gerrard made himself unavailable for international duty. I’m sorry, but if you’re country need you, you don’t say no.

That, for me, resulted in Gerrard being up there with the worst captains England have ever had, purely because he gave up the honour and made a decision that is the complete opposite of what a captain and leader should do.

Back to Sterling, and I have to agree with former England defender Danny Mills, who said: "As far as Raheem Sterling, I'd want to play every international game I could at this stage. I don't really believe a player his age will have gone to the manager and told him he's tired. Has there been influence from elsewhere? The club manager, for example? Who knows."

This hits the nail on the head for me, Sterling – still being a teenager – should have wanted to play, and if he doesn’t want to play for England then he shouldn’t be in the squad.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There is no sense of pushing yourself to your limits for your country anymore, taking that extra step and doing a little bit more, which is disheartening at the least.

It looks to me as though club is overpowering country at the moment, but the player has to stand up for what he believes in and do what he thinks is right.

Maybe in this instance Sterling thought he was doing the right thing, but I can guarantee there will be a couple of million men in England who wouldn’t turn down the chance to play for England.

Remember how lucky you are, Raheem.