Think about it. Every national and major European team has one. That player that can play the impossible pass which no one else saw, or the one than can take a ball past four defenders and score.
Now try and think of any current England international, and see if they fit the same role. For years, the national team have had plenty of midfielders and wingers capable of filling the traditional roles like defensive or box-to-box midfielder. The conundrum, which was never really solved by an England manager, was how to play Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in the same team, with the resounding answer that you don’t – finally proved by Germany’s 4-1 demolition at the world cup last year.
Given the current state of the England midfield, it doesn’t seem likely to change. While Scott Parker, and to a lesser extent Gareth Barry, are both perfectly able midfielders for suring up the defence, neither is likely to play through balls for Wayne Rooney to run on to. Both Lampard and Gerrard are great individual players, but both have lost form in comparison to their former glory years at club level and look slow in relation to their European counterparts.
Now compare the lack of English creativity with the inventiveness of, for example, the Spanish national side. Xavi and Iniesta have established themselves as world-class playmakers, both at domestic and international level. In the same national team, both Cesc Fabregas and David Silva are both typically subject to benchwarming, let alone the talent they possess in their youth system such as recent graduates Juan Mata and Thiago Alcantara.
Maybe the solution can come from the under-21 side of England’s national team. While both players are still yet to fully bloom and reach their potential, both Jack Wilshere and Josh McEachran look like they could be promising additions in the future. For Wilshere, it remains to be seen whether he can blossom into a box-to-box runner or truly rival his foreign counterparts. As a young player at Chelsea, McEachran has found first team places hard to come by but he has been noted for his close control and vision, with Chelsea coaching staff likening him to both Xavi and Iniesta.
There remains hope that playmakers akin to Paul Gascoigne are coming through the ranks. Creativity does exist in English footballers, but there seems a reluctance to draw it out of players and rather to focus their talents on the physical side of the game. England need their David Silva, their Kaka, their Ozil, especially if they are to do well at EURO 2012.