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Not again...

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Hamid Ismailov Hamid Ismailov | 14:02 UK time, Friday, 2 July 2010

There are perennial - or rather regular English - customs and in this, the 17th year of my life as an Englishman, I am getting more and more accustomed to them. I won't mention our summer, it's pretty decent nowadays anyway, I'll go straight to the nation's aching heart - to our woeful World Cup exit (or execution) at the ruthless hands, or rather legs, of ever-haunting Germans.

Like many others I also have my home-grown explanation, but first I would like to remind you of an old joke.

Every Saturday an old Uzbek man used to sit in front of his TV, watching the National Lottery and complaining to God: 'You give millions to random people, why you don't give it to me?' Week after week he kept saying it more and more passionately. Once, when the jackpot was over 10 million he even screamed: 'Why not me?!' And all of a sudden an annoyed Voice came from the heaven: 'You have to play the game first!'

So before going into intricacies of tactics, passing and so on and so forth, I would say the same to the English team: 'You have to play the game first!' To win it - be in it!

I was 12 when, late in the night, I watched the 1966 World Cup final in my mountainous village in Osh province, Kyrgyzstan. They say 'total football' was invented later by the flying Dutch team, but I saw 'total football' that late night. Even Bobby Charlton, who seemed at that time like a grandad to me, was tirelessly running with the ball and without, while his locks, which were meant to hide his baldness, were flying around. You could almost smell his sweat coming out of the small black and white TV screen. I'm not even talking about the ubiquitous Alan Ball or the omnipresent Bobby Moore. The whole team was a constant unstoppable movement. Do you want me to compare?

Let's talk for a moment about the attitude. My home-grown theory says that the only motivator of a modern football player in this country is money, and not just money, but big money.

Personally, I dreamt I would play better than Pele for the sake of the game. Ask any boy now why he wants to play better than Ronaldo or Tevez and I'm sure he will tell you it's the astronomical weekly wage he wants to beat.

You play well at Everton and Man United is after you. You play well at Man U and Real or Barcelona is approaching your agent. Did anyone mention loyalty to your town, club, or country?

The second point is that the wellbeing or rather well-off being of the modern English football player is guaranteed by his club, be it English, American or Spanish. I don't know what the national team pays for the participation, but I trust it's peanuts in comparison with club salaries. So when your only motivator doesn't work, neither do you. As the Uzbek saying goes: 'Even a cat won't go under the sun free of charge'...

So what to do next? Rather than blaming a German goalkeeper for not coming forward at that moment with a recognition of goal and by so doing turning himself into a modern saviour, I have a radical recipe and remedy: every four years at the midpoint between World Cup contests, there should be a Global Cup for the continents. Then Europe can play Asia, a united African team plays America, etc. Then even if we don't win, there always will be a bigger loser - Antarctica. Penguins wouldn't care so much and wouldn't waste their time for perennial or rather regular wound-licking and soul-searching, like we Englishmen do, eh?

This week I would like to know your solution for a football team that is not fulfilling its potential - be it at local, club or international level. Be as creative with the idea - and in the writing of it - as you can.


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