All posts by Joe Gleave

The International Makeup of the Premier and Non League

The Premier League has been famed for the international stars it attracts as a league for a long time. Since the dawn of the Premier League era, players have flocked from all over the world to come in play what the English media certainly believe to be ‘the best league in the world.’

The introduction of so many foreign players into the domestic English game (223 with an average of 11 per club) has often been blamed for poor performances by the Three Lions at major tournaments.

But where do these so called international stars come from? And how come other countries are able to flourish with almost as many foreign players in their leagues and with many of their players playing overseas anyway, frequently, in the Premier League?

We took a look at the makeup of the Premier League’s different nationalities by seeing which countries are most frequently attracted to often a much colder and wetter climate in the search of football stardom.

Most Common Nationalities in EPL
Most of the chart above probably wouldn’t surprise most readers. The combined effect of both Arsene Wenger and Alan Pardew’s (at Newcastle) liking for French and francophone players has significantly boosted the contingent of players from across the channel playing in the EPL; the same can be said for the reasonably high number of Ivorian and Senegalese players. But the number of Dutch, Spanish and Argentine players may come as surprise, especially when everyone is always saying how many Belgians there seem to be in England’s top tier. The breakdown of foreign player by club makes more interesting reading:
Foreign Players by Club

  It would seem that Chelsea’s success in winning the league at a canter this year has come at the expense of blooding young English talent, or English players of any age for that matter with Gary Cahill and John Terry the only regulars and senior domestic names of note in the whole squad. The same approach hasn’t worked quite the same wonders for John Carver’s Newcastle who are flirting dangerously with relegation. Likewise already relegated Burnley look to have paid for backing homegrown players. West Ham and Spurs also are no longer the bastions of young Englishmen that they have been in years gone by with Sam Allardyce and Mauricio Pochettino seemingly favouring the foreign approach to the game. Perhaps the best way to paint the picture of an arguable surplus of foreign players in the top flight, is to look at the situation at the other end of the scale, in the Conference Premier.

Conference Nationalities

Again France leads the way, with Australia in a close second – but even from the evidence of internationals simply playing in the basement before the promised land of League 2 and the Football League, shows that there are significantly less foreign players plying their trade at the lower level.

Conference Foreign Players
Again, by casting one’s eye over the breakdown of foreign players by club, it is again clear that local and domestic players are the favoured choice of lower league managers. Even if Lincoln look like the Chelsea of the Conference way out in front on the chart, they still only have four players from outside of the UK.

 

Compared to other domestic leagues in Europe, the level of domestic players playing in the Premier League and even in the Championship is much lower, and the results of the national teams at the Euros and World Cups really bears out the point that while plucking talent from across the globe ensures an exciting and vibrant league each season, it can only damage the growth of homegrown talent.

Leyton Orient star Elliot Omozusi nominated for PFA award

Leyton Orient’s Elliot Omozusi has been nominated for the PFA Player in the Community award for the second year running – Spoughts’ Joe Gleave caught up with defender this week.

Born and bred in Hackney, Elliot Omozusi hails from from London Fields where his family still live, and the 26-year-old feels that it was a good place to grow up.

Elliot Omozusi Credit: Leyton Orient FC

“It was a good environment to be fair, there was a close community in London Fields. My mum and dad and all my family are from Hackney so it was good being around them.”

His football education began on Hackney Marshes too, where he played Sunday league before joining Fulham at the age of 12. He played 8 games in the Premier League, including one against Manchester United.

“Obviously that was my dream to play at the top level and it was a good experience especially with me being so young at the time. It made all the hard work worth it and I really enjoyed it.”

In 2011 Omozusi’s career took downturn, when he was jailed for intimidating a witness in a murder case. He was released by the O’s but when he came out of prison a year later the club gave him a second chance, a reprieve he is thankful for, especially as he is close to home.

“It was more than I ever could have asked for and I’m very grateful to be here” he said. “One of the reasons I chose Orient was because my mum was ill and passed away, so I wanted to be around my dad and sister.”

Elliot Omozusi narrowly lost out in last year’s PFA Community Player Awards, which acknowledges the contributions of footballers to the community, but he is delighted to be in the running again.

“I would be over the moon if I won, but we don’t do it for the recognition, even though that’s nice too. There’s a lot of footballers up and down the leagues that are doing good work in the community so it’s great to be around the top of that list.”

Recently, he has been helping, Dominic, a young man from Leyton who like Omozusi, has served time. “We meet up twice a month to go out and chat and I’m on call 24/7 if he needs me. He’s really coming through the other side and he’s worked so hard which is really rewarding.”

Elliot Omozusi License: Creative Commons

On the pitch, Omozusi is quietly confident that the O’s can avoid relegation. “We’ve got a lot of hard work to do but I’m quietly confident that we can get little run together and get ourselves out of trouble. We’ve definitely got enough ability and strength to do so.”