Butcher: England have no world-class players

The former Three Lions skipper believes too many foreign players in the Premier League have had a negative effect on the national side's performances at major tournaments

Former England captain Terry Butcher has admitted a drastic overhaul of the country's youth football is the only way to ensure that the Three Lions can challenge for honours at future international tournaments.

Roy Hodgson's side have been widely criticised for their negative approach at Euro 2012 after being knocked out by Italy in the quarter-finals. Butcher, who won 77 caps in central defence and appeared in three World Cups, believes too many foreign players in the Premier League have had a negative effect on the England team.  

"Unfortunately, in football terms, the English are still guilty of using broadswords and battle axes and remain firmly in the Dark Ages when it comes to subtlety and finesse," he wrote in his column for the Sunday Mirror.

"English football is one-dimensional and there is a blind reluctance to accept that we simply have no world-class players – just average workhorses who have been consistently over-hyped in the Premier League, which is totally dominated by excellent foreigners and not by home-grown talent.

"How England can be so high in the Fifa rankings at six is beyond me, although Roy Hodgson did his very best with the resources he had. The ratings get updated this week but at the moment beaten Portugal lie 10th and Italy are 12th."

Butcher added: "It really hurts me to see the usual countries fighting it out in the semi-finals, with our plane having already touched down back in England.

"Last Sunday’s defeat against Italy only underlined the paucity of technical ability in our game and a complete and radical overhaul of the youth system has to be undertaken.

"Having the new FA set-up at Burton is all well and good, but it’s like putting the rejects from the X-Factor on the stage at Stratford-upon-Avon."

After overcoming England on penalties, Italy's 2-1 victory against Germany set up a final showdown with reigning champions Spain on Sunday night. And Butcher has tipped Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli to shine again. 

"Should super Mario score the first goal tonight, then I can see an Italian victory as no-one in the world defends a one-goal lead as well as the men in blue," he said.

"Spain have not beaten Italy in 90 minutes of competitive football since 1920, but did manage to defeat their bogey team on penalties four years ago.

"It is only fitting the two best passing sides in the tournament meet in the final as football should be entertaining and exciting, not resilient and robust."