Unless they’re doing PR stunts to stave off having to flog another winners’ medal, it’s always worth listening to the Gods of ’66.
Put simply, they knew what it took to be the best in the world, and have thus earned the right to pass judgement on the state of our national game.
So when Gordon Banks points out that only four Premier League clubs have Englishmen as their first-choice goalkeepers, making him fear for the future, his concern should be noted.
I just wish Geoff Hurst, Roger Hunt or Jimmy Greaves would demand an answer from the men at the top of our game as to why they’re allowing the great English goalscorer to head for extinction.
On Tuesday, the FA announced that Andy Carroll had pulled out of the up-coming Brazil trip (which must have seen ticket sales plummet in Rio), adding “no replacement will be made at this time”. What they omitted to add was that there isn’t anybody of international standard worth drafting in.
Unless they want to give an end-of-career reward to Ricky Lambert (aged 31), Grant Holt (32), Bobby Zamora (32) or Peter Crouch (32). Or drag Connor Wickham (who can’t get a game at Sunderland) out of the under-21 squad.
Has there ever been a worse set of striking options open to an England manager? Every player who scored more than 15 Premier League goals last season was born outside the country: Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale, Christian Benteke, Michu and Romelu Lukaku.
Of the top players available to Roy Hodgson, Carroll, Wayne Rooney and Darren Bent are being forced out of the door by their clubs (with hefty losses for two of them deemed acceptable), while Danny Welbeck scored only one Premier League goal last season and Jermaine Defoe only got one this year.
Indeed, the only in-form striker in his squad – as Theo Walcott has been named as a wide midfielder – is Daniel Sturridge.
He’s netted 11 times in 16 games since his January move to Liverpool, but how he was treated before that gives a clue as to why we have a striking crisis. Everyone who saw Sturridge as a teen knew he was a massive talent.
But first Manchester City, then Chelsea, failed to give him an extended run in the first-team to prove himself, putting it down to his “attitude problem”.
But the problem was more to do with the fact that they, like the other big clubs, are happier to spend tens of millions on big-name foreign frontmen than develop what they have.
To splurge their wealth on so-called “marquee signings” – rather than let their own kids make their mark.
Right now, our big guns are ready to break the bank to lure the goalscoring talents of Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani, Radamel Falcao, Higuain, Stevan Jovetic and David Villa.
Regardless of the fact that they may turn out to be another Andriy Shevchenko, Adrian Mutu or Robinho.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that the likes of Ian Wright and Robbie Fowler struggled to get a regular game for England because of the talents ahead of them.
And it leaves you feeling slightly embarrassed that the FA travels on its 150th anniversary to the world’s most beautiful football country to remind them that Englishmen invented putting round balls in the back of nets. We just forgot how to do it.
Still, at least we won’t have to worry too much about the lads’ off-pitch behaviour out there.
Because hardly any of them could score in a brothel.
Santos have accepted two offers for Neymar, the Brazil forward, with Real Madrid and Barcelona thought to be the clubs involved.
The Brazilian club announced the news on its website earlier this morning.
But after a meeting between club officials, 21-year-old Neymar and the player’s father, no immediate decision was reached.
A statement from the club read: “In a meeting with representatives of the management committee of Santos FC, striker Neymar Jr was made aware of the offers received by the club and he will analyse them in the coming days before making a final decision.”
But the striker insisted he would not be rushed into making a decision.
“This is an honour, the happiest moment of my life,” he was quoted as saying on globoesporte.globo.com. “I will now think carefully about these two proposals.
“I will decide with my family. I’m in no hurry. The decision may come out in five minutes, half an hour or three days.”
His father Neymar da Silva Sr, who also acts as his manager, added: “Now we will go home, sit down and talk. We could not make a decision in the heat of the moment. Let’s talk and see what Neymar wants.”
Neymar, who has already played more than 30 games for his country, has spent his whole career at Santos, who have repeatedly fended off interest from a host of European clubs.
Barca have long been on his tail, while Chelsea’s interest has been rebuffed in the past.
All previous indications were that Neymar would join Barca, though he had also suggested previously that he would remain in Brazil until after next year’s World Cup in the country.
Santos vice president Odilio Rodrigues said: “We did everything in our power to keep Neymar in Santos.”
The club initially confirmed two bids had been accepted with a statement which read: “Santos FC announces that it has received two offers for the player Neymar da Silva Santos Junior.
“Given the offers and conditions of the player’s contract, the management committee of the club have decided to sell the player.
“Neymar Jr and his father are expected at the Vila Belmiro stadium to choose which offer the player will accept.”
Any transfer could be complicated by the complex nature of Neymar’s ownership arrangement, with various investment groups holding a stake in the player as well as the club.
Felipe Massa and Ferrari are in a race against time to prepare the Brazilian’s car for qualifying after a big shunt in final practice on Saturday morning.
Thirty-six minutes into the closing hour-long run around the streets of the principality, Massa smashed into a barrier as he attempted to turn into Ste Devote at the end of the start-finish straight.
The suggestion was either the throttle jammed open or there was a brake failure as the Brazilian locked up heavily and was unable to turn his car into the corner.
The initial impact into the first barrier was considerable as the front-left of his Ferrari took the full force before the car slid around 100 metres into a TechPro barrier at the run-off area of Ste Devote itself.
It immediately brought out the red flag to suspend the session, which was ultimately held up for six minutes as the car was cleared after Massa had clambered out of the cockpit to walk back to the garage.
It was the catalyst to an error-strewn session because within seconds of the track re-opening, Adrian Sutil lost his Force India on the run up the hill through Massanet, hitting the barriers to his right.
In the final minute, Lotus’ Romain Grosjean again lost the back end of his car at Ste Devote.
Clipping a barrier, the left-rear wheel worked loose, the impact pitching him across the track and into more metal that dislodged the right-front.
It was Grosjean’s second practice shunt after the Frenchman lost an hour in FP2 on Thursday, when Ste Devote again proved his undoing.
On the timesheet, Grosjean ultimately finished second behind Nico Rosberg who completed a practice clean sweep, posting the quickest lap of the event so far with a one minute 14.378secs.
Given the disruption, however, the majority of the drivers failed to come anywhere near Rosberg, with Grosjean 0.661secs behind and with only three other drivers within a second of the German.
Even Rosberg, though, had a moment as he kissed a barrier with his left-rear on approach to the entrance of the tunnel.
Behind Grosjean were Red Bull’s triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, the latter 0.933secs adrift of his team-mate.
Kimi Raikkonen, who suffered a left-rear puncture at one stage, was sixth quickest, 1.002secs down, followed by Mark Webber in his Red Bull and Force India’s Paul Di Resta, the Scot 1.216secs off the pace.
Williams’ Pastor Maldonado and Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10, with McLaren duo Sergio Perez and Jenson Button 11th and 12th quickest, with the Briton nearly 1.6secs down.
British rookie Max Chilton, for the second time in three sessions, was slowest with a time of 1:19.228secs, 4.850secs behind Rosberg.
The iconic Wembley Stadium in London plays host to the 2013 UEFA Champions League final.
England’s national stadium has a capacity of 90,000, but this is expected to be reduced slightly due to the increased space required for UEFA’s jumbo-sized advertising boards.
When is the game taking place?
The 2013 UEFA Champions League final takes place on Saturday May 25, 2013. The match kicks off at 7:45 UK time.
Where is the game being televised?
The Champions League will be broadcast live on ITV1 and Sky Sports 1, including both HD alternatives of the channels – and on the Sky Sports 3D channel.
How else can I follow it?
We’ll be bringing you all the build up before the clash and live-blogging the game itself. If you’re out and about on Saturday night then follow all the action on our Mirror Football mobile app, which is available here for you iPhone and here for your Android device.
What are the betting odds?
The betting odds from Paddy Power are 2/5 on for a Bayern Munich victory and 15/8 for Borussia Dortmund to win.
Are any other Champions League final events happening in London that week?
The 2013 Women’s UEFA Champions League final takes place at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium on Thursday May 23, while the UEFA Champions Festival will take place from May 23-26 at the International Quarter in Stratford, next to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
And next month the business end of the season starts with the US Open quickly followed by the Open at Muirfield and the US PGA.
Rose, now 32, recorded his best ever Major finish with a third place at Kiawah Island last August.
And now his Ryder Cup captain reckons he is ready to make the breakthrough.
“I was really impressed by Justin at the Ryder Cup and he is still playing very, very well,” said the Spaniard.
“All 12 guys in that team can win any event or Major and Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald have already proved they are great players. But Justin is the one maybe just a step ahead of the rest.
“It seems he has been around for ever but don’t forget that he started very young. He had a tough start and then he lost his father. He seems to be have been finding his way for quite a while but lately, in the last couple of years, his game has improved a lot and he has become a very solid player.”
The big doubt over Rose’s game has been his putting. But by blowing away Phil Mickelson in his singles match, the Florida-based star proved he can perform on the big occasion.
“He can take great confidence from the way he putted at the Ryder Cup,” Olazabal continued. “That is when you gain most confidence when you see that happening on the course during extremely difficult times when the pressure is the highest.
“That makes you belief in yourself and that you have it in you. That is as important as having a great game.”
World No 1 Tiger Woods is favourite to win his 15th Major at Merion next month after winning his last two events.
“I don’t know about if he will win a Major this year – I am pretty sure he will be close this year – but I am sure he will win a few more,” Olazabal reckoned. “When he was going through those tough times in his personal life, and his game was struggling, I know how strong he is mentally. I know his game is good enough to win many more Major events. and I think he is going to do so. I think he will get to 18.”
This week Olazabal will tee up at Wentworth along with his entire Ryder Cup team.
“It will be a great celebration for European golf and it will be fantastic for me to see those 12 men,” he said. “I owe them a great deal because they know how much it meant to me that Ryder Cup. They did it not only for Europe, they did it for me. I always be indebted to them.”
Jose Maria Olazbal has launched the 2013 Nespresso Trophy UK Challenge, a nationwide amateur tournament where the winners will get the chance to meet one of the true greats of the game during an exclusive event in San Sebastian, Spain. To enter and for more information visit www.nespresso.com