'Deprived' England fans back clubs stars

England could not qualify for Euro 2008 but their fans are firmly behind top stars from the English Premier League.

updated: June 09, 2008 07:15 IST
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English fans are putting a brave face on their country's absence from Euro 2008 by throwing their support behind countries whose star players ply their trade in England, with Spain leading the way.

For the first time in 14 years, England are staying at home while a top international tournament takes place without them.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also failed to qualify, and not even that traditional standby for British fans, the Republic of Ireland, made it to this month's finals in Austria and Switzerland.

Fortunately for heartbroken England fans deprived of seeing David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and co in action, the highly international English Premier League is helping to fill the void.

Supporters are simply choosing to support the countries that their favourite club players represent.

Richard Lawrence, 33, a carpenter from Essex who works in London, is a fan of lower division Ipswich, but he admires the skills of Liverpool's Spanish striker Fernando Torres and playmaker Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal.

He said: "I'll be supporting Spain because they've got Torres and Fabregas. They really should be better than they've been in the past, given the players they've got.

"It's not a major deal for me that England aren't in it. I'll still go to the pub to watch some games and definitely the final."

He is not alone, with surveys showing English supporters leaning towards either Spain or the Netherlands.

Aidan Harvey, 26, a financial advisor in London, is pinning his colours to the Czech Republic because their midfielder Marek Matejovsky plays for his favourite club, Reading.