Q: Which team has scored the fastest international goal? (Answer later in the text)
I was absolutely disgusted during the Andorra v England match. Not by what was on the pitch (I’m not an England fan) but by comments off it. Media commentators and some newspapers were implying that Andorra had no business being on the same pitch as England. That kind of arrogance makes me sick.
That would be the England team that has not won a major trophy in 42 years. The same England team who did not qualify for EURO 2008, just like Andorra. The England team who so completely overwhelmed a nation with less than 0.5% of its population they scored a whole two goals.
The problem is that the English media and the vast majority of English fans believe that England is the best team in the world. They believe they only have to turn up at a major tournament to win it. They think they have the most talented group of players on the planet.
That is just wrong.
England are far from the best team in the world, in fact they were nearly not the best team in Britain. Had Scotland beaten Macedonia on Saturday there was a good chance that they would have overtaken England in the world rankings. England’s recent record in major tournaments is poor. They always breeze through the group stages then come unstuck when they play a higher standard of opponent.
Now, as for the claims about having the most talent. Well, what use is talent if you can’t make it work for you? Frank Lampard cannot produce performances for England that are anywhere near those for Chelsea. Wayne Rooney has a terrible goal-scoring record for England. Also, England does not have a quality left-sided midfielder as Stuart Downing, who is the only natural choice, has struggled and it is often left to Gerrard or Joe Cole to fill in.
The media argued that Andorra cannot possibly qualify for the World Cup so why should they be allowed to qualify? Lets apply this logic to other competitions.
Stoke and Hull have no chance of winning the league so do they not deserve to be in it?
Non-league teams have no hope of winning the FA Cup so should they be barred from taking part?
Should Northern Ireland and Wales not be allowed to play qualifiers?
Of course not.
I find it strange that the media outlets I heard and read these ludicrous statements from were the ones who were salivating over Havant and Waterlooville’s run in last seasons FA Cup. The same ones who nearly soiled themselves when Barnsley knocked Liverpool and Chelsea out. This is a complete double standard.
They were even trying to say what could Andorra possibly have to gain from these games? Why do Liechtenstein, San Marino, Luxembourg, Faeroe Islands and other small nations bother? While these nations are never going to win major tournaments they can still have their moment in the sun. Games where for 90 minutes, mostly amateur players playing for the love of their countries and the love of the game get to play against pampered megastars and will have stories to tell for the rest of their lives. Miracles can happen as well. The Faeroes beat Austria in their first ever game. Andorra beat Macedonia. Liechtenstein drew 2-2 with Portugal, just this weekend Montenegro drew 2-2 with Bulgaria in their first ever competitive game.
The answer to my question at the start? San Marino (against England, no less).
To anyone who still has doubts as to why these teams play, I strongly recommend the book ‘Stamping Grounds’ by Charlie Connelly. This book chronicles the Liechtenstein national teams qualifying campaign for the 2002 world cup. It is one of the best football books I have ever read.
I am a firm believer in the global expansion of the game. I also believe that teams improve by playing against better opposition and that even in defeat teams can learn and improve and that these so-called minnows not only have a place in international football, but also a place in my heart.