Juninho Pernambucano is of course the legendary Brazilian playmaker and Lyon free-kick guru now playing back in his homeland with Vasco de Gama. His international career was extensive, making his debut in 1999 and playing until 2006 amassing 47 caps. Yet in 2006 aged 31 Juninho retired from international duty, despite being considered to be playing the best football of his career. Before anybody doubts his commitment to the Brazilian cause, this is the only man in history to have represented his club and nation in two separate countries on the same day, playing Argentina in Brazil and then Nacional in Uruguay later on.
He cited his retirement as an opportunity to allow the younger generation to come through and take his place, fearing for the future of the Brazilian team after a disappointing World Cup exit to France. While John Terry may have not intended to have done so but his international retirement creates a similar scenario with Ryan Shawcross and Steven Caulker being mooted by popular demand as future England internationals.
So should anyone else consider doing ‘a Juninho’ and stepping aside perhaps for the good of the nation?
It is easy to say ‘yes’ and reel of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard with immediacy but when you consider the youth already involved in the England set-up a thought must be spared to the qualities experience brings. However such experience could be apparent with Michael Carrick, Phil Jagielka, Jermain Defoe and even Wayne Rooney.
When you take a look at the options however there is considerable reason to suggest the retirement of the 30 something’s would not necessarily be a bad thing.
Ashley Cole could be replaced by Leighton Baines, Ryan Bertrand or even Kieran Gibbs who is having a stunning season at Arsenal. Gerrard and Lampard could be replaced by Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverley (if they could stay fit that is).
While John Terry’s retirement is being viewed as a positive by the rose-tinted glasses England supporters like myself the idea it will have wide ranging positive effects doesn’t resonate. The overhaul would have to be full-on, with the long awaited dropping of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, in order to access the progressive style of play Roy Hodgson desires.
Now may be the right opportunity for him to take the initiative, the only danger in doing so is the gamble, can England afford to not qualify for the World Cup in 2014, a potentially very real consequence of experimenting with ‘a theory’ in competitive international football.
It is a tough one; experience versus youth, reliability versus naïve vulnerability and proof versus theory.
What do you think? Should Lampard, Cole, and Gerrard even Barry follow in Terry’s footsteps? Or is their experience far too important to sacrifice?
image: © jbagley