Vieira: Youngsters lack commitment to England

Young English players appear to have fallen out of love with playing for the national team and lack the technical skills of continental rivals, former France international Patrick Vieira said on Wednesday.

The new English national training centre at St George's Park and an academy being built by Manchester City should help England to produce more talented young players, added Vieira, who is Football Development Executive at English champions City.

However, 1998 World Cup winner Vieira said young players appeared too willing to use injuries as an excuse to skip matches when called up for national team matches at various age levels.

"In England, I really don't understand how come so many young players from the age of 16-21 pull out of the national team for injury," said Vieira, who is an ambassador for Europa League sponsor Western Union.

"I think it's maybe the lack of FA [Football Association] power, I would say. Maybe this is as well a lack of love for the national team," added Vieira, speaking at a function during the Leaders in Football conference at Stamford Bridge.

"When I grew up in France, I wanted to play for the French national team. That was my target, my dream and I don't feel like in England, the young players are dreaming of playing for the national team any more."

Vieira said he was not sure why attitudes had changed and believed that young players should want to play with the best to improve themselves.

English teenagers lacked the technique, vision and tactical acumen of their peers in France, Spain and the Netherlands and coaching had to improve, Vieira said.

"The heart of the English player is double or triple that of the Spanish or French player. That is a good base to start with," he added of a nation who have won only the 1966 World Cup.

Vieira said wealthy City were now moving into a new phase of trying to develop more of their own young players after investing heavily on established internationals in recent years to make the team competitive quickly.