London: Former Arsenal and France star Patrick Vieira claims young English players no longer dream of representing their national side.
In his role as Manchester City's football development director, Vieira is in close contact with the next generation of Premier League stars and he is convinced there is no longer a desire among the sport's youngsters to make an impact on the international stage.
Vieira was always passionate about playing for France and helped his country win the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship, but the 36-year-old does not see the same determination in teenagers these days.
"When I grew up in France, I wanted to play for the French national team. That was my target, my dream, and I don't think this is the same for the under-16s, under-18s in England," he told several newspapers in England on Thursday.
"I don't think the young players are dreaming of playing for the national team any more. I don't know the answer but, from the outside, I believe that, in England, they are not as proud as they used to be."
Vieira, who won 107 caps for France, has also warned it could take more than a decade for the English Football Association's new national centre at St George's Park in Burton upon Trent, central England to show tangible results.
He welcomed the move to centralise football development in England, but believes the FA must improve coaching in order to close the gap on the top nations like Spain, Germany and France.
"Finally, they did something, because, if you look at all the big nations, they all have their own 'house'," Vieira said.
"It's taken them a long time for them to realise they need a place. But it's better late than never.
"The people running the English game realised they are far behind other countries, that something is wrong in the system, and they are trying to make it work."