It is nothing new, this idea of players playing for two separate nations. Legends such as Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano have done it. Puskas played for his adopted Spain in the early 60’s. Di Stefano played for Argentina, Colombia and then represented Spain in pursuit of playing in his first World Cup due to Argentina’s FIFA exile, it never happened.
In athletics it is common to see people representing different countries based on marriage, residency or distant relations.
But in football it is becoming an increasingly grey area; with players such as Manuel Almunia (why!?) and Mikel Arteta being linked with the England team.
We always hear tales of Ryan Giggs and how he could have played for England and even Harry Kewell was eligible for the England team and Italian World Cup winner Simone Perotta who was born in Manchester.
I was surprised to see Thiago Motta representing Italy; considering he has 2 caps for Brazil and lives in France.
Jerome and Kevin Boateng may be brothers, albeit reportedly estranged after a falling out, but the two played against each other when Germany faced Ghana in the 2010 World Cup.
Christian Vieri could have played for Australia and David Trezeguet Argentina in a warped parallel world.
Imagine a world where Lionel Messi plays for Spain, he has residency so most definitely could before representing Argentina and Spain have used this tool before, with Marcos Senna being an invaluable member of their team prior to the emergence of Sergio Busquets.
Actually don’t think about Messi playing for Spain, it is a far too frightening concept.
Then you have Frances 1998 World Cup winning side who boasted many a player of African or Caribbean origin. Zinedine Zidane and Algeria; Patrick Vieira and Senegal; Marcel Desailly and Ghana; the list goes on.
The Surinamese football team could be a force in CONCACAF football if players such as Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Jimmy Flloyd Hasselbaink, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit had not chosen to play for The Netherlands instead.
The Swiss national side has recently been a mix of various ancestries and heritages; Albania, Colombia, Turkey and Bosnia to name a few.
Even Tony Cascarino admitted in his auto-biography that despite representing the Republic of Ireland he had absolutely no known links to the country.
In the current England team Danny Welbeck is Ghanaian by blood but was born and raised in Manchester and proudly represents England on the football pitch.
So who is there who may never play for England?
This one is well known with parallels to former Liverpool legend John Barnes. Raheem was born in Jamaican and moved over to England as youngster. He has grown up in English academies and represented English academies but has been recently accosted by Jamaica to represent the country of his birth. Was in England’s squad for the recent qualifier with Ukraine but he should really be left to make the decision on his own. He is still eligible for Jamaica because he did not get onto the pitch.
Saw him for the first time playing for England at youth level but he has now stated his desire to play for Nigeria. He lived in his home country till he was 11 so bonds will be tight with his nation and he has made 3 caps for The Super Eagles, I imagine with immense pride and without an atom of regret.
Been brilliant for Arsenal this season and at just 20 could provide essential cover for Kyle Walker’s destined England career. But he may instead play for, Finland. It may come as a surprise that the former Charlton full-back has a Finnish mother. He has played for Finland Under-19’s and Under 21’s and a call-up to the first team appears imminent.
The Liverpool man born in East London has a Scottish grandmother and could therefore play for Scotland. He has held talks about his international future with the Scottish FA this month and would be a useful addition to a Scotland side lacking creativity.
Arsene Wenger once said England should give the Ghanaian born midfielder a cap simply to prevent him from playing for his home country. However Frimpong has made his assertion clear that Ghana will be the only nation he represents despite playing for various English youth teams.
The decision ultimately lies with the player and the tales of ‘this is where they learnt there football’ nonsense is inconsequential. They have to play for whatever country feels right for them; and if they do good luck to them.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald