23 October, 2008

Esta Es Inglaterra!

Every six months or so this old chestnut rears its ugly head so I guess it’s probably time we gave it a bit of coverage. If you are a football fan with ears you have undoubtedly heard the conjecture that Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta and Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia are considering switching their international allegiance from Spain to England, after being repeatedly ignored by the national set-up over there in sunny Espana. Maybe because the Spanish have literally hundreds of better options in both positions, but more likely because the Premier League stars lack the shiny swimming shorts and long, lady-like hair required to make the cut.

Anyway, Arteta will be eligible to play for England in January 2010, after having lived in the UK for the necessary five years required to apply for residency, but the 26-year-old claims he still harbours hope of pulling on the shirt of his home nation: “At the moment the idea of playing for England hasn't even crossed my mind,” Arteta told Spanish sports daily Marca last week. “I have the desire to play with Spain’s senior side. The truth is that it is an idea that has come about through the fans here,” he concluded, referring to the petition cobbled together by some of Everton’s more drunk fans last season.

Yesterday newspapers however seem to think that the wheels might be more in motion now, quoting the Toffees’ midfielder as saying: “I've been here four years so that possibility (to play for England) will exist… I appreciate a lot the affection they (the Everton fans) are giving me and the campaign they are doing for me to play for England.” Not exactly conclusive, but a bit more positive I guess.

So how do we feel about this then? On the one hand, I find it hard to imagine anyone being prepared to represent a different country to their native one, especially at something as passionate as football, but I guess if they’ve been overlooked by their country and want to play for their adopted home, why not? Both are clearly decent players, who would bring something a bit different to the England set-up, so why wouldn’t the fans embrace them? And it isn’t like this kind of thing is unheard either. Think of the various famous players who have repatriated in recent memory: Zinedine Zidane, Deco, Patrick Viera, Bojan Krkic, Shaun Goater, Colin Kazim-Richards…


Rob Marrs said...

There are plenty of Brazilians plying their trade around the world for other nations - Deco and Senna spring to mind. Others Lucio Wagner (Bulgaria), Eduardo (Croatia), Kevin Kuranyi (Germany), Roger Guerrero (Poland), Pepe (Portugal), Leandro de Almeida (Hungary), Mehmet Aurelio (Turkey).... you could nearly form a decent team.

Also, think of all the Surinamese-born players who have represented Holland - slightly different, of course.

Zidane didn't repatriate - he was born in Marseille. Bojan was born in Catalonia (his father is Serbian), the Goat was born in and played for Bermud.

http://leftbackinthechangingroom.blogspot.com - check it out

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