Imagine there being a football match played in a country’s top football league but there were no players to be represented on one team from that particular nation.
Indeed, that is something that is rather hard to fathom now with the rules that are currently in place, as the implementation of ‘home-grown’ rules and regulations – both domestically and continentally – have helped to ‘protect’ certain aspects of the game.
For example, teams in the Premier League now need to include a total of eight homegrown players. However, there are some complexities to these rules as they allow for players who have trained at a certain club for a period of time before a certain age to be considered ‘homegrown’; Cesc Fabregas or Victor Moses, for example, could be considered those to fit that particular mould.
However, before the introduction of these rules, football clubs used to be able to play whoever they wished and that would often lead to a number of teams picking a starting XI full of foreign players, with many having represented their countries on various occasions.
But, who were first to do it and start a ‘trend’ that English football finally decided to eliminate and essentially protect the English national team and their own chances of producing the best players in the hope of obtaining silverware; something that is still yet to happen. Those who use casinos, though, can still expect to win the biggest rewards when possible.
Some might be surprised, some might not considering how the club in question have since gone on over the last couple of decades.
Indeed, Chelsea were the first English Premier League side to field a starting XI that did not feature a single English player on their team-sheet.
This happened back in 1999, on Boxing Day of all days when they headed to Southampton and managed to record a 2-1 victory at The Dell. Gianluca Vialli was manager for the Blues at the time, and as the west London club were starting to appeal to many foreign talents at the time, he had enough men in his squad to fill it out entirely with those from abroad.
In goal, he had tall, Dutch shot-stopper Ed De Goey, whilst he had a defence in front of him that consisted of Albert Ferrer (Spain), Frank Leboeuf (France), Emerson Thome (Brazil) and Celestine Babayaro (Nigeria).
The midfield consisted of Dan Petrescu (Romania), Gabriele Ambrosetti (Italy), Roberto Di Matteo (Italy), Gus Poyet (Uruguay) and Didier Deschamps (France), with Norwegian Tore Andre Flo the sole striker and the man to score both Blues’ goals.
English players did feature for Chelsea from the substitutes bench, though, with both Jon Harley and Jody Morris coming on as late second-half swaps.
In contrast, Southampton had seven of their starters from the United Kingdom.