Any argument into if there is too much money in the football world is a bit of a non-starter really.
Everybody knows this is the case. Players are getting paid far over the odds of what anybody should be paid, and seeping extraordinary benefits alongside this.
Billionaire club owners are pumping money into the game and instead of it having the desired effect on football in this country at a grass roots level, it is just meaning that the top players are often spotted driving around with the latest Lamborghini with their names on the registration plates, and hanging out at the fanciest bars and clubs on the planet with thousands and thousands of pounds bar tabs spent on Don Perignon and Cristal champagne.
This is unquestionably taking the loyalty from the game.
However, every now and then there is that gem. That player with the loyalty to his club of Ryan Giggs. The passion, desire and determination to go above and beyond for his club, like that of Steven Gerrard. These are the fans’ players. Players that week in and week out, wear their heart on their sleeve and bleed, sweat and cry for their team.
One player in particular in this remit that goes under the radar is Mark Noble.
Being in his tenth senior season now at Upton Park he has gone through every emotion possible with West Ham. Sampling promotion, relegation, play-off finals, a FA Cup final and captaining England U21s in their 2009 European Championship final defeat to Germany.
He has been an ever present figure in the Premier League for the last few years, consistently Mr. Reliable. Having gone toe-to-toe against some of the best central midfielders in the world in this era.
Particular performances that stand out last season were against Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool and Yaya Toure’s Manchester City, in which he kept both of them very quiet and bossed the midfield battle. Yet he cannot get a look in in the England set up.
Having represented England at every age group possible since U16s, you can’t help to think that at 28-years-old it may now never happen for Noble.
He is now eligible to play for Republic of Ireland through the Grandparents rule, but has always said that he has never given up hope of pulling on the three lion’s shirt.
My question is at 28, and as a previous England U21 captain, why has this natural progression never happened before?
Some may argue that he has been unlucky to be around at the same time that Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard cemented the two England central midfield slots. But the frustrating thing is that during this time England caps have been given out to the likes of Jack Wilshere, Jonjo Shelvey, Tom Cleverley, Jake Livermore, Ryan Mason, Fabian Delph, Jack Colback, Tom Huddlestone to name a few.
In that same 2009 European U21s final 4-0 defeat to Germany, the Germans lined up with the likes of Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jẻrôme Boateng, Sami Kherida, and Mesit Özil who all now play a key part in the German national team, showing their natural development – proving this has been a key part of the World champion’s success in recent years. Whereas the only England players progressing consistently through this era were Joe Hart and James Milner in this squad.
In an exciting time at West Ham Noble looked fantastic last season as he flourished alongside the inspired signings of Alex Song and Cheikou Kouyate and the revitalised Stewart Downing in midfield.
Having signed a five-year contract earlier in the year, it is clear to see that Noble is at the spearhead of their plans going forward, and hoping to get the recognition off Roy Hodgson.
It was only a few seasons ago when the emergence of Scott Parker playing alongside Noble at West Ham earned him a spell in the England squad, and even acted as stand-in captain on several occasions. He said of Noble when playing together: “I have no idea what Mark has to do to get into the England set up.”
However, his late resurgence into the England squad holds hope for Noble to finally break into the squad in the coming seasons.
With the retirement of both Gerrard and Lampard from international football the time really is great for him to push on and show everybody what he can do and break into that squad. If he plays with that desire and passion in a West Ham shirt then you can only imagine what it would mean to him to represent his country at that level.
The set piece specialist says he will never turn his back on his country, however how long do we expect him to wait to give him his chance?
England may not think he is good enough, but West Ham fans certainly do.
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