Rise of the playmaker – Glenn Hoddle on why the future is Phil Foden for England

Most people who watch and understand football at a high level now would never see Jack Grealish, Phil Foden or Mason Mount as luxury players, which is how I was always labelled.

That’s one of the ways the thinking has changed in this country since my playing days, because coaches and fans alike appreciate a creative player now more than ever.

I called my new book ‘Playmaker’ because that’s how I always saw myself, even as a young kid coming through, but back then that role was never really recognised in this country as it was around the rest of Europe.

Most of our clubs in the 1970s and 80s played a rigid 4-4-2 and it was the same when I was with England too. If you were a creative player like me, then you were fighting against that system constantly because you had to fit into it, with four against four in midfield and the ball in the air too much for my liking.

Hoddle won 53 caps for England between 1979 and 1988. “I used to wonder why I was more knackered playing for England,” he says. “At first I thought it was just down to mentality. Eventually I realised it was because technically gifted players were passing around us all the time.”

I was a kind of a number 10 in my final season with Tottenham – the one when Clive Allen scored 49 goals – but people still talked about what I couldn’t do as much as what I could. It was only when I went to Monaco in 1987 that suddenly I was at a place where what I did was seen as the most important position, because I could elevate the team.

Why? Well, if you are a player who just goes around stopping the opposition, tackling or whatever, then yes there is an art to it, but destroying things is always easy compared with making them happen.

The expectation in England used to be for me to dictate play for 90 minutes, but it was never about doing that, and it still isn’t. Look at Kevin de Bruyne now – you might not see him all game but then he sets up a goal with an unbelievable pass that no-one else can see, let alone execute it.

What De Bruyne, Grealish, Foden or Mount can do, which is to consistently create, is the toughest thing to do on a football pitch. Goalscoring is difficult too, of course, but if you are a number 10 now…

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