It is a question that is on the mind of a lot of Asian and American based football supporters. Why are their respective countries within their continent not producing players that are known worldwide and lighting up games week in, week out? South America are one of the best continents for producing young talent, the most evident one of recent years is arguably the greatest player of all time, Lionel Messi.
Brazil and Argentina work particularly hard to produce the best talent, not only for the benefit for their own national side but for the benefit of football. Europe as well can boast some of world’s greatest players. Cristiano Ronaldo is known in every single country in the world not because he was bought by Real Madrid for £80 million in 2009, but because he is one of the world’s best players and has unbelievable talent with a ball at his feet.
Asians and Americans love there football. They are huge followers of their own game but you will often hear that they also follow a lot of the football in foreign countries. This is simply because this is where the best teams and best players are in the world. You won’t hear many people from England wanting to go to Asia or America to watch a football game because it isn’t half as spectacular or entertaining as it is in England.
It is very simple. Sport in America is huge, football, or Soccer as they know it in USA, is not one of the leading sports which affects the whole process. Whether you become a world class player or not depends entirely on how you are brought up, the environment you’re in. Although football is beginning to progress with the MLS league, football is still years behind American Football, Basketball, Ice Hockey and Baseball. The popularity of these sports is massive but for football it is less so.
This has a domino effect as fewer kids will take up football as a sport that they want to try and pursue a career in. Football in England is the main sport, for some kids it’s the only sport and they eat, drink and sleep football. This is not the case in Asia and America which shows in the fact they don’t produce world class players. Europe has Cristiano Ronaldo and South America has Lionel Messi. America has Landon Donovan and Asia has Shinji Kagawa. Landon Donovan and Shinji Kagawa are extremely good players, but are not players who are going to set the world alight and win football matches by themselves. Landon Donovan is a star in the MLS but the times he has come to the English Premier League with Everton, he was sometimes on the bench and not a regular which shows the difference in standard between the Premier League and the MLS in America.
Asia is a completely different problem. Unlike America where football isn’t quite as well established, football in Asia is one of their main sports. Asia is a big continent yet not one of their countries has ever won the World Cup. Although a lot of funding has been put into Asian football to bring star players to the country, this won’t help contribute to the youth infrastructure which is what is depleted. The level of top coaches in Asia is extremely poor and therefore you might have an 11 year old kid who is on the verge of becoming a magnificent player but he just needs to be coached and mentored in the appropriate way.
This is where Europeans come into a league of their own as they boast some of the best coaches in the world. The European approach considers all the factors of becoming a world class sports star, not only developing their technical skills but their tactical, physical and psychological attributes. In Asia they don’t have the know how which is undoubtedly denying them the opportunity to progress youngsters into the professional game which is limiting the amount of success for their continent.
For the next 10-15 years it will still be the likes of Brazil, Argentina and Spain producing the world’s best talent. With Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo currently in the limelight, both South America and Europe already have new stars developing and are ready to step up to the mantle. Neymar of Brazil is one of the biggest stars of the game and is only 21. In Europe you have Eden Hazard from Belgium; at 22 he has already earned a lucrative move to Chelsea in the English Premier League. It will be a good few years yet before you ever see a Lionel Messi coming out of Asia or America.