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Club v Country: Senderos loves to play for his nation

There have been a couple of interesting takes on international fixtures over the past couple of days.

First, Jamie Redknapp wrote an article for The Mail On Sunday stating his belief that he could still be playing club football now, had it not been for the injuries he picked up on duty for his country. Then our very own big Phil Senderos waded his way into the debate by telling Arsenal TV Online how much he relishes the games for his native Switzerland.

My feelings on the subject are well known among you lot who visit Arsenal Pies, hence the Club v Country Poll we’re currently running here on the site (you have until noon BST on Sunday to register your vote).

But here is a brief summary of the two players’ thoughts...

Redknapp wrote, “I am convinced that playing for England cost me three years of my career. Three times I left on a stretcher during games for them — two broken ankles and a torn hamstring. And Liverpool were paying my wages.

“Fans would come up to me in the street and say: ‘This should be what matters to you, not England’. And they had a point. I loved playing for England, but it did make me question my loyalties.

“I would be in good form, go down to play for England and then come back injured. I would miss another six months, the club would buy someone else to play in my place and, without being mercenary, there were the first-team bonuses, too. It left you out of pocket. In fact, playing for England left me with a big price to pay in more ways than one.

“After 19 operations in my career, I had to pack it all in — at the age of 31. The broken ankle I collected in Euro 96 playing against Scotland resulted in the knee injuries that forced me to give up.”

Redknapp is far from bitter about what happened to him, stating, “It was a great honour, but perhaps I could have still been playing now if it wasn't for the injuries picked up on England duty.”

And he points to the players who have prolonged their careers by retiring from their national squads - Paul Scholes, Jamie Carragher and Ryan Giggs, being just three recently.

For his part, son of Cygan, um, I mean, Senderos can’t wait for 2008 when his home nation co-hosts the European Championships. “It’s the second biggest competition, after the World Cup, so for small countries like Switzerland and Austria, it’s a huge thing to have.

“We have a young national team and it is great experience to play against the best teams in the world, because we’ve played Argentina, we’ve played Brazil, we’ve played Germany and Holland and it’s great to have [strong] opposition because you can only get better.

“With the results we’ve been having and the performances we’ve shown we can see that the Swiss team is getting better.”

Now, if Senderos can improve his game, maybe I’ll start to see the benefit of internationals, but somehow I doubt that a few days with the Swiss will do him more good than the same amount of time with Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal coaches.

I admit I’m biased, but Redknapp hits the nail on the head with this observation: “Is international football losing its allure? The expansion of the Champions League has diluted its importance and significance. You no longer need to play for your country to appear on the world stage,” he says.

“Lose your star player in an international game, especially in a friendly, and fail to qualify for the Champions League? It doesn't bear thinking about.

“The arrival of so many continental managers can't have helped. Does Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez care about the progress of the England team? No. And why should he? Jose Mourinho likewise. And Martin Jol. And Sir Alex Ferguson. The list goes on.”

Add me and many many more Arsenal fans to that list Jamie.

What do you think? Do you rate international football higher than club football? Then share your thoughts using our comments section below

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Posted by Gordon Masson on September 7, 2007 in | Permalink


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