Gennaro Gattuso is a living legend. Hailed as one of the most fearsome players and an absolute terrier in midfield, the Italian won everything there is to be won in the game. Well, almost everything.
Other than the European Championship, Gattuso triumphed in all other major competitions a European footballer could possibly succeed in. He won Serie A and the Champions League twice each with AC Milan, and played a key role in Italy winning the 2006 World Cup much against the odds.
Now 36 and retired, Gattuso has taken a massive dig at England, who will face Italy in their opening Group D game at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil on June 14. The former Palermo coach claims that the Three Lions will struggle in Manaus because of the lack of experienced players.
England manager Roy Hodgson has selected a number of young players as the 1966 World Cup winners look to move into a new era. However, Gattuso claims that to win world football’s biggest tournament, teams need experienced players.
‘I don’t really agree with Hodgson’s youth policy’, The Mirror quotes him as saying. ‘Experience – it’s not something you buy at Tesco. It’s something you earn, bit by bit, and it matters because I am dead sure that, when youngsters are there listening to the national anthem, their legs will be shaking’.
Gattuso’s argument cannot be ignored. As good as young players are, footballers with experience and who have done it on the biggest stage are the ones who always lead the teams.
Yet, England’s veterans have often flattered to deceive. The likes of Steven Gerrrard and Frank Lampard have given their all in the Euros and the World Cups, but they have always fallen short. It was the right time for Hodgson to give the likes of Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a chance.