Nothing against Capello, but ...

GEORGE GROSS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

Quo vadis, England soccer managers?

In case you were wondering, "quo vadis" is a Latin phrase meaning "Where are you going?" It is used as a proverbial phrase from the Bible.

I'm using it as a proverbial concern about the future of England's once-famous national team soccer managers.

I got concerned that from 2001 to 2006 the manager of the once-famous England national team was Swedish expert Sven-Goran Eriksson and, more recently, they named Italy's Fabio Capello, who succeeded the short-term English manager Steve McClaren who was in charge for a little over a year and who was let go when England failed to qualify for Euro 2008.

Now, I have nothing against Eriksson, who has the best credentials as pater familias of a soccer team.

Nor do I object to the appointment of 61-year-old Capello, a former star player in Italy, a man who won nine national titles with Italy's AC Milan, Roma FC and Juventus of Turin, as well as with the famous Spanish royals, Real Madrid and who signed a 41/2-year contract with the English FA for a reported $13.1 million per year.

But what on earth is happening to English soccer managers, who once were a dominant force in global soccer?

Have they forgotten their trade?

I just can't believe it.

Let's take just a brief look at the men who used to run the fortunes of England's national team.

Without any doubt, the best- known England manager was Sir Walter Winterbottom, who was the national soccer manager from 1946 until 1962, but his proteges over those years were not able to win the much-coveted World Cup.

Sir Alf Ramsay, who followed Winterbottom in 1963, was much luckier when his players captured the 1966 World Cup played in England, with the final against Germany at Wembley Stadium in London before a sellout crowd. Sir Alf, a former fullback for England's national team, was in charge until 1974 when Joe Mercer took over for a year.

Other England bosses included Don Revie (1974-1977), Ron Greenwood (1977-1982), Sir Bobby Robson (1982-1990), Graham Taylor (1990-1993), Terry Venables (1994-1996), Glenn Hoddle (1996-1999), Howard Wilkinson (1999-2000) and former sharpshooter Kevin Keegan (1999-2000).

With such big names behind them, all I'm going to ask the English FA is ... Quo vadis?

CORNER KICKS

Hockey parents will be surprised to find that soccer is the No. 1 participatory sport in Canada with 867,869 registered players. Last year's numbers show that in 2007 the number grew by 13,119. Of the overall total 501,359 are male and are 366,510 female players. Ontario is the leader with 44.36%, way ahead of Quebec (19%), British Columbia (14.23%) and Alberta (10.35%). Globally, Germany leads the way with 6.3 million registered players, the United States follows with 4.1 million. Among female players, the Americans are first with 1.6 million players, next is Germany (871,000) and Canada (366,000) ... The Canadian men's team completed its Florida training camp last week and will play their next international match on March 26 against Estonia in Europe. The team's first FIFA World Cup qualifier is scheduled for June 15 in Saint Vincent and Grenadines with the return match a week later in Canada ... Former German superstar Franz Beckenbauer will lead a number of sports legends to St. Petersburg, Russia, next Monday for the annual Laureus World Sports Awards ... Francois Glasman is beating the drums for his Soccer School of Excellence. It is held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Astraplex (Jane and Rutherford), as well as Saturday mornings at the Toronto French School on Lawrence Ave. E.


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