Generation Game

Father and son success stories are hard to come by in the history of British football but in Mark Chamberlain and his son Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, both England internationals in their own right, the country can boast at least one top-drawer two-generation football family. 

Alex has been making the headlines in recent months after breaking into both the Arsenal side and the senior England set-up, aged just 19. 

Generation GameMark, 50, played eight times for England between 1982 and 1984, giving the pair a unique insight into how the sport has evolved over the last three decades. 

Mark can point to a number of aspects of the game that have improved between him hanging up his own boots and lacing up those of his precocious son.

Unquestionably the biggest and most important change over the years has come in the fight against racism in the game.

There have been a number of high profile cases in the past 12 months where racism has reared its ugly head once more but Mark believes the situation is vastly improved since his playing days drew to a close.

He says: “When I was playing racism was quite rife and we just put up with it. Rightly or wrongly we just got on with the game - it wasn’t right to be treated like that. Now you see the games and I don’t think Alexander has had any issues with that. There are still things happening but it is getting better and improving, which is great.

Alex, like the majority of modern day footballers, makes use of Twitter and he thinks it can provide a vital link between players and fans.

He says: “My Dad hates all of that stuff because he doesn’t understand it. Obviously they didn’t have anything like that in his day and he doesn’t understand why you sit and chat to the fans.

“We get told we are role models for young children - it is surreal for me because I don’t feel like that but if I am then that is really good and I think it is my responsibility to get across the right way to do things.”

Mark freely admits to not being a fan of Twitter but feels the Professional Footballers’ Association has used social media to the benefit of its members.

“I think I’m a different personality to Alexander,” he admits. “I keep everything to myself - it is not for me but he likes it and a lot of them do. If it is used in the right way then it can be good.

“The PFA communication is a lot better now. Obviously they (the PFA) have embraced social media so everything is a bit more open for the players."

Mark Chamberlain. 

"The communication channels are open and the facilities are there (@PFA).

“It is a lifestyle really and there is information there to say ‘if you want this, we can help you’.”

Generation GameWhen Roy Hodgson took charge of the national team in May he pinpointed the importance of overseeing the influx of younger players into the side, an approach Alex thinks is essential if England are to repeat their 1966 World Cup success.

“I think English football has been widely talked about and how we want to play a particular brand of football and I think it all starts from the young lads and even in the academies,” he says.

“Coming into big teams and then into the England squad means opportunities can be hard to come by but it is good that Roy Hodgson is giving the young lads a chance. I think it is the best thing for the future because you have got to build towards things like Brazil 2014.”

Alex saw Arsenal team-mate Jack Wilshere pick up the PFA Young Player of the Year award a couple of years ago, with Tottenham and England defender Kyle Walker winning the accolade last season, and it is a prize Alex himself would like to get his hands on in the coming years.

“It is a really good award to win as there are a lot of good, young players coming through the Premier League now,” he explains.

“Some people might not realise how challenging it can be mentally and physically."

"It is a good award to win and if I manage to win it one day I will be very proud.”

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Speaking about the PFA Young Player of the Year Award. 

Mark has always seen the potential in Alex and is quick to get his point across to his son, something Alex has always appreciated - even if he has seen little of his father’s playing career. Alex says: “I think the only time I have seen him is on one clip on YouTube and maybe on a few videos at home.

“He used to tell me he knew what he was talking about and it seems like he did. Most of the things he said always made sense and even now I go to him and trust his opinion, even though sometimes I don’t like it I always think he is right.

“I guess all the lads do that with their Dads but he has helped me all the way and has been the biggest influence for me.”

And Mark believes he knows how his son can keep improving, stating:

“He has to keep improving and adding to his game...and listen to me a bit more!”