Football

Old can be gold

Carsten Cramer. TNP PHOTO: NICOLE QUEK

If you're good enough, you're young enough.

That's the view of former Borussia Dortmund and Germany midfielder Lars Ricken, when asked for his take on the radical changes announced ahead of next year's Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season.

Last week, S.League chief executive Lim Chin revealed new age restrictions which would limit S.League clubs to only five players over the age of 30 in a 22-man squad, while three players will have to be aged 25 or under.

If clubs register only 20 players, then only four are allowed to be over 30, while two must be under 25.

The move, which is applicable to only local players, was made in a bid to encourage clubs in Singapore's only professional league to blood younger footballers.

Ricken, who etched his name in Dortmund history by scoring a spectacular goal just 16 seconds after coming on as a substitute in the club's triumphant 1997 Champions League final, said: "You need a mix of young and old.

"Last Sunday (Dortmund's 1-0 win against Borussia Moenchengladbach which snapped the club's run of seven games without a win), Sebastien Kehl was probably the best man on the pitch and he is 34.

"Older players can be very important to the team, especially when you are in difficult situations.

"In Germany, we have a saying: There are no young or old players, only good or bad ones."

The age restrictions on S.League clubs have not been well-received, and will mean more than a dozen players will be without clubs next term.

While he appreciates what the S.League is trying to do, Dortmund's director of sales and marketing Carsten Cramer (above) feels the emphasis should be put elsewhere.

"To be honest, it sounds like an attempt to repair the problem without really solving it," he said.

"One of the most important things for Germany after (failure at the World Cup in) 1998, was knowing we had to change the system... and make sure we focused 360 degrees on young players.

"To combine all those things together is a question of the system, and not a matter of bringing three, four or five young players into a club's first-team squad.

"You have to build the house from bottom up, and not by just repairing the roof."