MUMBAI: AT the end of the league stage of this season’s Indian Super League, it doesn’t make a pretty reading for home talents. Indians don’t top the lists for most number of goals scored or for the most number of tackles won. Established in 2014, the league is still mainly influenced by the foreign players, with Kerala’s French forward Bartholomew Ogbeche leading the strikers’ chart and FC Goa’s Ahmed Jahouh (Morocco) being the top defender.
But Alan Shearer, who has seen English football undergo a sea-change, believes that the pros of foreign talent eventually outweigh the cons. “It’s difficult to say the number of foreign players that should be on the pitch,” said Shearer. “But there’s no doubt that the Premier League has benefited from having foreign players. We’ve had some incredibly talented players like Eric Cantona, Gianfranco Zola and Thierry Henry; all these guys were huge in terms of helping the Premier League grow.”
With the 49-year-old Shearer in the country to promote the Next Generation Cup, which includes U-14 teams from Premier League clubs Chelsea, Manchester United and Southampton, the talk naturally veered towards the English national team and their chances at the 2020 Euros. “England have three of their group games at the Wembley, and the semis and finals,” said Shearer. “And having played at Wembley in Euro 96, I know that if you get on a bit of a roll and the crowd get behind you then you never know…” Despite Wembley advantage, they might miss the services of their lead marksman Harry Kane. “It remains to be seen if the manager picks up the phone and asks Jamie Vardy to come out of retirement...”