The desire to represent their country is an ambition that is commonplace among footballers; indeed many would say that pulling on the national shirt is the pinnacle of their career. However, from a neutral perspective, it is not always the right thing to do.
Vincent Kompany has not played for Manchester City since January 26 yet decided to risk his calf injury by turning out for Belgium against Macedonia on Tuesday.
The Guardian reported that Kompany ignored pleas from Roberto Mancini, who emphasised that "these next two months are really important," and as such that City needed their instrumental captain in order to cement their league position.
Given the current hype surrounding players sustaining injuries in international football - Steven Fletcher being the most notable example - Kompany's decision seems to have ultimately passed without any cause for concern. However the overall issue of club versus country is one that has been around for years, and will continue to do so if more sensible decisions are not made.
Belgium's squad is a strong one, certainly strong enough in most people's opinion to beat Macedonia without Kompany in their side. As such the combination of the Kompany's recent injury record, City's league position, and the importance of the game, should have meant that Belgium's manager, Marc Wilmots, did not select Kompany in his squad. This would have had an ultimately beneficial impact on future relations between Wilmots and Manchester City; good relations between club and country are crucial to the future success of both.
However, even after Kompany was selected he should not have made the decision to play. Although Kompany's desire to play for his country is admirable, and understandable, the responsibility that he has by captaining Manchester City - to his manager, team mates and supporters - should have made him think twice about risking an injury that has plagued him intermittently for almost a year, and arguably hampered City's performances in the league.
Although few managers would begrudge their players the opportunity to play international football, their first priority is still the club they manage, and it is the club that pays the players' wages. Consequently the decision to represent their country must be given more thought by players in circumstances such as Kompany found himself in.
Given Mancini's reaction and the publicity that it has received, it will be interesting to see the outcome of a similar situation in the future.
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