Call It A Comeback?
Some countries are looking to youth ahead of this summer’s European Championships. Teams could be in transition or looking to blood their most promising young players. Germany were big proponents of this in the 2010 World Cup and are likely to continue the trend in Poland and Ukraine.
However some national sides may look to some veterans, including players that had previously retired from international football, and one that had six months ago retired from football altogether. Due to the form of these old boys, and the lack of form and quality from some of the young pretenders a few managers, fans and pundits are calling for the inclusion of these veterans.
In 2010 Raul left his boyhood club and a team he had been with since childhood. The Spaniard had been suffering from injuries and getting less game time. He had also been dropped from the national team a few years earlier, missing out on the Euro 2008 win as well as the World Cup triumph.
Leaving the team he had won multiple league titles and European Cups with, Raul rocked up in Germany with Schalke. A decent side but not Bayern Munich or Borrusia Dortmund by any means. Raul has just announced he’ll be leaving Schalke after two seasons to move to Qatar and his impact in that short time has led to his shirt number being temporarily retired.
He has scored 27 goals in 64 league games for Schalke, a ratio that lies somewhere between a goal every two or three games.
Raul has been an integral part of Schalke’s team creating his fair share of goals as well as scoring and his experience is crucial in guiding the younger players in his side.
With Fernando Torres scoring less than your average goalkeeper and David Villa suffering from injury, Vicente Del Bosque may turn to Raul to boost his strike force this summer and give Raul the swansong that he deserves.
A one club man, as synonymous with Roma as Ryan Giggs is with Manchester United and Raul is with Real Madrid, Francesco Totti won the Scudetto with Roma and the World Cup with Italy in 2006. He retired from international football in 2007 despite a bid by the then-manager to get Totti to help Italy at Euro 2008.
So why bring him back? Well after initially struggling to make the Roma team under new manager Luis Enrique, the 35 year old has broken back into the team and while weighing in with the occasional goal, Totti has been a creative force, laying on many a goal and being a central figure in Roma’s push for a Champions League spot.
Why else should Italy bring him back? Well Italy’s attacking options look a bit thin. Giuseppe Rossi is out for ten months, the manager doesn’t fancy the prolific Di Natale, Antonio Cassano is recovering from nearly dying and Mario Balotelli is a terminal liability. Other than Pazzini the rest of the potential strikers don’t have much experience on the international stage.
At the end of last season with Manchester United getting a good hiding at the hands of Barcelona in the Champions League final, Paul Scholes brought the curtain down on what had been a spectacular career. Two Champions League medals and tens of domestic honours, the Ginger Assassin had gone down in history as one of the best ever Premier League midfielders with plaudits from Europe’s best players.
January 2012. Scholes has been retired since May and coaching the reserves at United, Ferguson on the other hand finds his side 12 points behind noisy neighbours Manchester City. Sir Alex, disappointed with the way his side are performing (already out of Europe if you remember) brings back Scholes for the FA Cup third round tie against City. United win the game and overhaul City where they currently have a three point lead.
Scholes actually retired from international football way back in 2004. He claimed it was to spend time with family and extend his United career. It wouldn’t be a surprise if it was actually because managers kept shifting out of position to accommodate lesser players. Fabio Capello tried to get him back for South Africa 2010 although it didn’t work out.
His range of passing is beyond reproach and given Gerrard and Lampard’s lack of form and Jack Wilshere’s injury, England is short in central midfield and Scholes could lead to England’s triumphant surge to the quarter finals.
You could argue that at the time Leeds United were reaching the semi-final of the Champions League and paying Seth Johnson £40k per week, Ian Harte was one of the best left backs in Europe. At the time he was established in the Ireland squad and went to Japan and Korea in 2002.
But with the decline of Leeds so came the decline of Harte. A move to Levante didn’t go too badly but in Spain he was somewhat away from the eyes of the Irish management.
After Levante, Harte had brief and disappointing spells with Sunderland and Blackpool. After nearly suffering the ignominy of signing for St Mirren he signed for League One side Carlisle where he had a bit of resurgence. This earned him a move to Reading where he has just won promotion to the Premiership and was one of the best left backs in the league.
Harte is an expert free kick taker and can cross a ball with pin-point accuracy. Apparently when they took over at Ireland the Trappatoni administration didn’t even realise Harte was Irish, but Ireland fans ask yourself, when you’re facing Spain this summer who would you rather have at left back, Ian Harte or Stephen Ward?