The English cricket team has imported South African-born Kevin Pietersen, Craig Kiesweter and Jonathan Trott, as well as Irishman Eoin Morgan. Meanwhile, Rugby Union has capped Kiwis Shontayne Hape, Lesley Vainokolo and Riki Flutey. Could the answer to English football’s problems lie in the globalised Premier League?
After all even tennis (Greg Rusedski), boxing (Lennox Lewis) and athletics (Zola Budd) have imported talent over the years, with football’s globalisation more distinct that any other sport. In the spirit of question, Rant looks at a squad of overseas-born players who qualify, or will shortly, to play for Fabio Capello’s side.
Under FIFA statutes, players qualify to switch nationalities and therefore play for England if they meet one of the following criteria and have not competed at full ‘A’ international for another country:
(a) He was born on the territory of the relevant Association (i.e England);
(b) His biological mother or biological father was born on the territory of the relevant Association;
(c) His grandmother or grandfather was born on the territory of the relevant Association;
(d) He has lived continuously for at least five years after reaching the age of 18 on the territory of the relevant Association.
Everton. Midfield. Born in Spain. Qualified under residency – the silky midfielder is already eligible for a British passport, meets FIFA’s residency criteria and has not yet played for Spain. With England’s dearth of creativity from the middle of the park, Arteta would add a new dimension to Capello’s squad.
Everton. Defence. Born in France. Qualified under residency – the 32-year-old defender may be in the twighlight of a solid career but few who have watched the left-footed Bagnolet-born player believed he would be worse in the England side than Matthew Upson. Qualifies under residency having not appeared for France’s senior side.
Sunderland. Midfield. Born in Belgium. Qualified under residency – the Belgian-born Frenchman has not represented his homeland at any level. Now 31, the technically gifted Malbranque would hardly represent a long-term strategy but did feature in the full France squad in 2004 without making the team.
Wigan Athletic. Midfield. Born in France. Qualified under residency – the former Newcastle United winger does, despite reports to the contrary, still qualify for England under residency if he takes up a British passport. The French-born midfielder also qualifies for Congo under parentage rules but has only represented France at Under-21 level to date. Has expressed a wish to represent England.
Arsenal. Goalkeeper. Born in Spain. Qualified under residency – the Arsenal goalkeeper’s previous declaration that he would like to play for England was met with significant criticism. But England’s dearth of high-quality experienced ‘keepers means the door is still open for the former Celta Vigo player who is eligible for a British passport.
West Ham United. Forward. Born in Jamaica. Qualified under parentage – Hines has already played twice for Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21 side but was also called into the Jamaica squad in 2009. The West Ham forward is yet to formally declare for a nation and until the 21-year-old plays a full ‘A’ international the choice is still his.
Tottenham Hotspur. Goalkeeper. Born in Italy. Qualified under residency – the Italian is no longer first choice, having moved from Chelsea to Spurs but failed to dislodge Brazilian Heurelho Gomes. But should Gomes suffer another dip in form, could Cudicini also force his way into the England set-up despite one cap for Italy at Under-21 level?
Middlesbrough. Born Argentina. Midfield. Qualified under residency – the left-sided midfielder is one of only two Argentinian players on the planet not called into Diego Maradona’s World Cup qualifying squad. The other is Maradona himself. The former Sunderland player has been resident in England for a decade.
Denílson Pereira Neves (Denílson)
Arsenal. Midfield. Born in Brazil. Qualifies on 16 February 2013 under residency – moving to England aged just 18, Denílson was called up to the full Brazil squad by Dunga nearly four years ago but did not play after pulling out. The São Paulo-born defensive midfielder will qualify for a British passport under the naturalisation process in around a year’s time, and then under the FIFA statute for the England team on his 23rd birthday.
Fabio and Rafael da Silva
Manchester United. Born Brazil. Defenders. Qualify on 9 July 2013 under residency – the Brazilian Nevilles could take a step closer to their United heroes and represent England in just three years time. Portugal coach Carlos Quieroz previously sounded-out the brothers over a role in the Iberian’s national side – a move that was politely turned down. Each has represented Brazil at Under-17 level.
US Tennis. Unlikley to qualify – Could Venus follow her sister into the full England side? After all Serena overcame the disappointment of being dropped by Capello for the Slovenia World Cup game by donning a frock and winning Wimbledon!