Neville urges grassroots focus

Gary Neville says the pool of home-grown players in the Premier League will continue to decrease unless greater emphasis is placed on the grassroots game in England.

Last Updated: 11/03/13 at 16:33 Post Comment

Gary Neville: Says greater emphasis must be placed on the grassroots game in Eng

Gary Neville: Says greater emphasis must be placed on the grassroots game in Eng

Almost 65 per cent of Premier League players now hail from overseas and Neville believes that were it not for the work of thousands of unpaid volunteers, there would be no chance of young talent emerging from youth ranks.

"In the media, we are all aware of the next controversy, the next big match, the next transfer," said the Sky Sports pundit and England coach.

"But without these volunteers we don't go anywhere. There are a decreasing number of British players in the Premier League and we need to try to buck that trend. We need to give these players more opportunity."

The former Manchester United defender and brother Phil were regulars at Bury Juniors FC as youngsters, and Neville remembers it as an important period in his development as a footballer.

"Football players don't grow on trees," he stated. "They are made on football pitches like these. It is where you learn your trade.

"It taught me about competitiveness, about sport, about winning, dealing with defeat, dealing with disappointment.

"People think of football as being the Premier League and Champions League and that kids' stuff is meaningless. But for those involved it means absolutely everything.

"If you play badly or miss a chance, you carry it with you all week.

"It is just the same as professional level but for kids it is a lot tougher because they don't have the experience of life to deal with it."

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