As an Englishman living in Wales, it’s easy to see the pride that the locals have for their country. There passion for their international side and pride as a nation is as strong as anyone’s, and whilst they do not show contempt or hostility towards the English, they are not afraid to show they’re proud of who they are and where they are from. Yet when it comes to football, the hatred for us English does grow. You’d expect there to be a rivalry between to bordering nations, but this rivalry has been brought to light of late due to the drama surrounding the 2012 Olympic football team.
Next summers games will see a combined Great British team entered into the football competition and to say the least, it’s sparked controversy. Whilst English fans have embraced the idea of seeing the best talent Britain has to offer being put in the same side, the reaction has not quite been the same from across the Severn Bridge. Welsh fans national pride is extending to the lengths where they do not want to see stars like Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale represent Great Britain. Despite Wales’ manager Gary Speed giving the stars the go-ahead to represent next summer, the Welsh Football Association are yet to address the matter and thus far they have admitted their concern about Wales’ top players turning out for a combined side. Now whilst it is understandable that the Welsh want to disassociate themselves with their English counterparts, for the sake of one competition, surely the rivalry could be put aside?
- Aaron Ramsey controversially poses in Team GB kit
The likes of Bale and Ramsey - who if allowed will no doubt be chosen to play - will only benefit from playing in a high quality competition. With Wales long running failure to qualify for international tournaments, playing at the highest level will only improve their game as individuals and in the long run, it will have its benefits for Wales. Wales are improving and when they do eventually qualify for a big competition, they need experienced heads. They will benefit from having players that have played at these levels before.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to be English, I’m proud of my heritage, but for the sake of an Olympic gold medal, I for one would like to see a combined side. I want team GB to win gold. Some will say, it’s the taking part that counts, but they would be lying if they said they didn’t want to win. What’s the point of going into a game not wanting to win? If we want to win, we should give ourselves the best chance possible and having a combined team does that. For the sake of one competition, I could put the rivalry aside and unify as a nation.
(4-4-2): Jack Butland, Kyle Walker, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Kieran Gibbs, Ryan Giggs, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale, Andy Carroll, Daniel Sturridge.
Others: Chris Maxwell, Danny Wilson, Adam Matthews, Neil Taylor, Darcy Blake, Oliver Norwood, Josh McEachran, Tom Cleverley, Jordan Henderson, Jack Rodwell, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Forrest, David Beckham, Barry Bannan, David Goodwillie, Danny Welbeck, Conor Wickham, Theo Walcott.
Just from looking at that potential squad, the possibilities are endless. Great Britain is blessed with a plethora of fantastic young talent and surely it should be utilised. The team above and in fact the squad above is capable of winning gold. Teams like Argentina have played names like Messi, Aguero and Tevez in the past and they have gone on to win gold. Even though the squad I named is dominated by England players; there is still a good blend of all four nations. It’s time for Great Britain to stamp it’s authority on football. With England producing some fantastic young talent recently and with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on the up, now is a great time to showcase it. A gold medal on our own turf next summer would be a great way to prove that British football is on the rise.
So to all you Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish fans who like to disassociate themselves from England and Great Britain, I say put the rivalry aside. For one tournament, unite with us and get behind the boys.