Belfast Telegraph

James Lawton: Frank Beckenbauer's worth to the game is beyond value

Maybe we should give the multi-talented Piers Morgan the benefit of the doubt and say that in his role as a sportswriter he produced the other day a rhetorical question of wonderful irony.

It was when he was exercised by certain criticisms levelled at English football. He demanded to know: who does Franz Beckenbauer think he is?

Well, the best guess here is that he thinks he is Franz Beckenbauer, which means of course that he has forgotten more about the priorities of football than Mr Morgan and most of the rest of us will ever guess.

What Beckenbauer also represents in his magnificent contribution to the German game, as a player and a coach and an administrator, is the value to a serious football nation of a man of such knowledge and experience.

In England we pat our greatest players on the head and, if they are lucky, they get free tickets to the international games we tend to lose when it matters most.

Those of us who believe English football is in desperate need of the influence of its best thinkers, and highest achievers, can only welcome the news that a chastened Fabio Capello will stay in charge of the national team. He had a gruesome experience here in South Africa, and no doubt he learnt some new lessons in his first experience of how leading English players react to great pressure. But then if he cannot learn from them, who can?

Belfast Telegraph


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