What’s more important – Club or Country?

by Gavin Caney

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

It’s a debate that not only plagues players and managers but us football fans too. Michael Essien admitted that the African Cup of Nations left him torn between representing his country or his club this January. Chelsea pay his wages, the bread and butter as such, and give him the chance to play in the Champions League which most consider the greatest club competition in the world. Ghana, his country of berth, gives him the chance to make his people proud while featuring in the biggest competitions in world football. The World Cup this summer will not cause players much heartache considering it is played in the close-season but it did bring up an interesting point over a few beers the other day. Would you prefer your club to be successful this season or England to triumph in South Africa?

The debate raged and an answer was never quite reached. After all most of us support our clubs and our national team in equal measure. There are some that have no interest in the national side but most football fans can’t help but get caught up in the countrywide euphoria come tournament time. People who hate football start getting behind the country. There’s little that can create such a wave of pride and collectivity, even if most people claim to hate living in ‘Broken Britain.’

Euro ’96 stands out for many as one of their great childhood experiences. Football’s coming home, summer nights at Wembley in the sun and Gazza’s goal. The heartbreak of that semi-final defeat. Again. It’ll probably happen again this summer but we all live in hope that 2010 could be the new 1966. Yet given the choice of a club title, trophy, promotion or survival over a country success and many can’t decide.

Let’s pick up on a few of the main reasons. Your club is your club. For many it is your local side. For others it’s a club you’ve supported your whole life who you follow all year every year. England hardly play. You choose to love your club but you can’t choose the country you’re born in. Tournaments are over as quickly as they start while a season contains many highs and lows. Many clubs just haven’t had the success in people’s life since supporting them, although much of the same can be said about following England.

One major point that baffles many is the hatred that we show to rival players who we then cheer wholeheartedly when they swap the colour on their shirt to Three Lions of England. Talk about hypocrisy. Screaming abuse at Steven Gerrard because he plays for Liverpool only then to sing his praises when the ‘dirty Scouser’ does the business against U.S.A in the opening game. It all seems a bit two-faced.

Much of it all depends on who you support I guess. Many Man United fans turned against England due to the vilification of David Beckham after his sending-off against Argentina at France ’98. Many other supporters have similar stories. Yet others will support both in equal measures. Fans of successful clubs may have a reason to desire England success that bit less as they get it already at their clubs. Others who follow clubs in lower divisions just want a return to the glory days. They would probably choose club over country.

Personally I find the decision incredibly hard. Yet as I’m off out to South Africa this summer to attend my first World Cup in it’s entirity I’m getting hooked on that pre-tournament buzz. My judgement is slightly clouded as I turn down club tickets to afford a summer away. Now  that we’ve been successful in getting England tickets I want nothing more than to be singing the national anthem in the Quarter-Final in Jo’burg having cheered the boys on throughout the group games and second round game (if they win the group). Out in Africa with thousands supporting the country of our birth.

Yet if I was told that the clubs I support (Man United and King’s Lynn – before the latter folded) would win nothing for England success I just physically couldn’t choose between the two. In an ideal world you’d love both your club and country to win the lot. But given the choice I just can’t decide. Club or country? I  just haven’t got a clue. Club or Country? What do you think?

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  • Tef1on

    Country! Club games are only qualifiers to play for your country… World cup over Champions League any day!

  • Dexylongshot

    Tef, does the top fit??

  • Scottc

    Club footballs nothing, its on all the time. The world cup happens once every 4 years. I’d much rather my national team to win than my club.

  • dexylongshot

    Exactamonto my thoughts scottc.

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