Andy Carroll: Headed for Jail or English Stardom?

| by Ian Palmer

There’s been quite a bit of controversy in England over the inclusion of Newcastle striker Andy Carroll to the England squad that lost 2-1 to France at Wembley on Nov. 17th. The reason most people were against him wearing the three lions of England on his chest had to do with his off-pitch performances not his on-field ones.

A lot of the old guard feel the 21-year-old Carroll isn’t worthy of representing his country because of the way he conducts himself in public. In fact many of them believe he’s no better than the hooligans who’ve given the sport a black eye over the past few decades and believe he’ll soon be trading in the striped jersey of Newcastle for a prison one.

Basically, Carroll’s been in the headlines too often recently for his brushes with the law even though he’s been banging the ball into the net on a pretty consistent basis with eight goals in his first 14 league games. He seems to be too similar to Newcastle’s Joey Barton personality-wise for many people as he’s shown a lack of respect for several people, including his teammates and ex girlfriend.

For those who aren’t familiar with Barton, he was convicted twice on violence-related charges and was handed a six-month prison sentence for one of them and served 77 days of it. He also received a four-month suspended sentence for assaulting a former teammate during training. On top of that he’s been accused of several other attacks and has been suspended more than once.

Carroll broke his teammate Steven Taylor’s jaw following an argument in training and was cautioned by the police after allegedly assaulting a woman. He also pleaded guilty recently to common assault after he said a glass "accidentally traveled through the air" and hit a man in the face just above the eye. On top of that, he’s also scheduled to go to trial soon for another alleged assault, this one on an ex-girlfriend. However, the six-foot-three professional athlete is claiming self defense on that one.

Carroll was released on bail recently and one of the conditions was he live with Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan. Two days after this tidbit of info went public, Carroll’s car was set on fire in Nolan’s driveway.

But whoever sentenced Carroll to live with Nolan might want to give their head a shake as some British newspapers published front-page articles of the two of them hosting some type of cocaine orgy at Nolan's place. But the both players denied any knowledge of the event and of taking drugs.

What it all boils down to is that many fans, journalists, managers and other people associated to soccer feel Carroll isn’t the type of role model who should be playing for the national team. They feel England players should represent their country properly both on and off the pitch. Carroll’s also had problems with England in the past. He was sent home from international duty by the England Under-19 team for breaking curfew before a game against Romania.

Of course, there are others who don’t care what players get up to on their own time as long as they can play the game at a high level. But it seems wherever Carroll goes, trouble follows. Especially being based in Newcastle, which is well known as a party town. But Carroll’s not the only one who’s been in trouble with the law in England. Numerous high-profile soccer players have been in the headlines over the years for various offences, including alleged rapes.

Some observers believe an England selection might actually be good for Carroll because it might help him change his lifestyle, while other feel it’s cheapening the names of some of England’s past heroes such as Sir Stanley Matthews, Sir Bobby Charlton, and Bobby Moore.

But the man who picks the England squad is supposedly manager Fabio Capello and he’s pretty hard pressed when it comes to selecting strikers at the moment. Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe, Darren Bent, and Michael Owen have all been out with injuries. In fact, Capello had to dip down to the Championship League to select Jay Bothroyd against France. Ultimately, Capello has to decide if he should pick the best players to represent England or the best people.

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