By CHRISTOPHER DAVIES
HERE IS the answer: England none, Brazil 12.
The question is: how many overseas players are in the respective squads for Sunday’s friendly in Rio de Janeiro?
Roy Hodgson bemoans the dwindling number of English players in the Barclays Premier League because of the ever growing foreign legion. Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has only half of his squad playing at home. The latest Brazilian export to Europe is Neymar, who this week secured his transfer from Santos to Barcelona,
Hodgson and recent England managers have had minimal travel to watch potential internationals. In the last nine years the only England players of any serious stature who have played abroad are David Beckham (Real Madrid and Los Angeles Galaxy), Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich) and Michael Owen (Real Madrid).
On the other hand, a succession of Brazil coaches have had to spend much time in Europe assessing the form of their players.
The last Brazil squad for a World Cup to comprise entirely of home-based players was at Argentina 1978 when England did not qualify. All 22 players selected by coach Claudio Coutinho played in their domestic league.
At Spain 1982 Falcao (AS Roma) and Dirceu (Atletico Madrid) became the first overseas-based Brazilians to play in the finals with Tony Woodcock of Cologne flying the foreign flag for England.
Four years later in Mexico, Brazil had Edinho (Udinese) and Junior (Torino) while England’s two overseas representatives also played in Serie A – the AC Milan pair Ray Wilkins and Mark Hateley.
By Italia 90 the Brazilian exodus was gathering momentum with half of the squad earning their trade in Europe – Jorginho (Bayer Leverkusen), Ricardo Gomes (Benfica), Dunga (Fiorentina), Alemao (Napoli), Branco (Porto), Valdo (Benfica), Careca (Napoli), Romario (PSV), Carlos Mozer (Marseille), Aldair (Benfica) and Muller (Torino) while Silas played for Central Espanol in Uruguay. For England, Chris Waddle was with Marseille, but Rangers had four players with the auld enemy: Gary Stevens, Terry Butcher, Trevor Steven and Chris Woods.
England failed to qualify for USA 94 where Brazil’s victorious squad contained 10 from Europe and one from Japan.
It was a similar story for Brazil at France 98 – Europe 10, Japan 2. All 22 England players played at home.
Ten of the Brazil squad that won the 2002 World Cup were based overseas with Owen Hargreaves of Bayern Munich England’s lone “outsider.”
By Germany 2006 only three of Brazil’s 23-man squad played at home – goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni plus midfielders Mineiro and Ricardinho. In England’s squad Hargreaves and David Beckham (Real Madrid) were the two from abroad.
In the last World Cup in South Africa, Brazil again had only three “homers” – Gilberto (Cruzeiro), Kleberson (Flamengo) and Robinho (Santos). And again all the England squad were based in England.
Gerry Hitchens (Inter Milan) in 1962 was England’s first overseas player at a World Cup. Since then Brazil have had 100 to England’s eight.
If nothing else, it saves on the England manager’s travel expenses.