• Euro 2012

Redknapp: Wilshere can be our Pirlo

ESPN staff
June 25, 2012

Harry Redknapp has highlighted the importance of producing "an Andrea Pirlo of our own" if England are to truly compete on the world stage, and has stated his belief that Arsenal's Jack Wilshere is exactly the type of player who can fill such a role.

Following England's Euro 2012 quarter-final exit on penalties to Italy, a game in which midfielder Pirlo was instrumental as Cesare Prandelli's team outplayed Roy Hodgson's for large spells, Redknapp underlined the importance of developing a next generation of players that is far more confident in possession.

"We must learn a lesson from this and do our utmost to produce an Andrea Pirlo of our own," said Redknapp in the Sun.

"I am pinning a lot of hope on the new St George's Park development centre and on coaches at every level in England. We must get our kids to play, play, play. Realise it's not all about being strong, big or fast.

"Look at Pirlo against England - he had no pace, strength and he's ancient. But what a fabulous display.

"What we have got to do is bring through kids who as defenders will be happy to bring the ball out and forwards who want to receive the ball in tight areas surrounded by the opposition because they are comfortable in possession."

One exponent of that style of play is Wilshere, who missed the whole of last season for the Gunners with an ankle injury and was subsequently ruled out of England's Euro 2012 challenge.

"Strangely it was the absence of Jack Wilshere which was felt most keenly. He can be our Pirlo," continued Redknapp. "He's the type of player I'm talking about who doesn't rely on strength or speed - he's a genuine footballer.

"I am reminded of when Clarence Seedorf came to Tottenham a couple of years ago with AC Milan in the Champions League. He was then 35 or 36 years old and we won and went through but boy did he play well, did he have a magnificent football brain which is ageless.

"When players like Luka Modric, Eyal Berkovic and the like are on form they are match changers. It's been a problem for us for the last 30 years - it's why we haven't won anything."

Redknapp, while highlighting England's shortcomings, was full of praise for the job carried out by both players and coach Hodgson, the man who was chosen over the former Tottenham manager for the England role.

"Roy Hodgson got the best out of the squad he had available to him in the time he had after getting the job," said Redknapp. "He knows that it's all about the future now and moulding the team his way rather than getting one together that is difficult to beat.

"It was hard for our midfielders to make much impact because they were overrun by Italy's three in the middle. And they just got stronger and stronger as the game went on."

He added: [Steven] Gerrard was still our best player at Euro 2012. John Terry was magnificent. We still need those players because now there is World Cup qualification for Brazil in 2014 to think about.

"We need to bring through a few youngsters, the likes of Wilshere I have already mentioned. But while we are doing so, players like Gerrard, Terry and others will be of vital importance."

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