With the England versus Bulgaria match tonight, and the possibility of more bad headlines for English football should England fail to win the game, it was slightly shocking to recently find out that the way players are selected as youths to be coached at local academies is not what you would expect.
A friend of mine has a close friend whose son recently got in to the under 10s academy at an established Premier League club in the north of England. This sounds as if it is some great achievement, and of course, he must be proud. However, the methods used to select him really do leave a big question mark about the way footballers are developed in this country.
Apparently, the guys sone was barely watched when he turned up to the evaluations. Instead, the football club spent most of their times measuring his height, his feet, and asking questions about how tall his parents are. He later found out that players are filtered out as young as 8 years old if they believe they will be shorter than 5 ft 10 inches, and if they are likely to have big feet, which is considered a hindrance to footballers.
In short, they were more concerned about the physical build of the player than they were about the mental attributes or skills the player has.
Doesn't it tell you everything you need to know about English football that skill is not considered the first and most important reason for choosing a player who could be developed in to a professional footballer.