Musiala, Bale & players who snubbed England
Bayern Munich youngster Jamal Musiala turned down England for Germany in 2021, joining the likes of Gareth Bale, Scott McTominay and more in rejecting the Three Lions.
The decision came as something of a blow for England, with Musiala having represented the country at various youth levels and looking like a future senior international.
So who else had the opportunity to play for England, but ultimately snubbed them for another country? Goal takes a closer look.
Stuttgart-born Jamal Musiala had played mainly for England at youth level (turning out for Germany U16s twice), but dropped something of a shock on Three Lions fans when he declared for Germany in 2021.
“I’ve thought about this question a lot,” he toldThe Athletic.“What is best for my future? Where do I have more chances to play?
“In the end, I just listened to the feeling that over a long period of time kept telling me that it was the right decision to play for Germany, the land I was born in.
“Still, it wasn’t an easy decision for me.”
Arsenal youth academy product Alex Iwobi represented England at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 level before declaring for Nigeria in 2015. Born in Lagos, winger Iwobi has since gone on to play for the Super Eagles at the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations. He even scored against England in a friendly match at Wembley ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
Gareth Bale was eligible to play for England through his grandmother, but dismissed the idea that he would ever have played for them, saying: “It is an honour to play for Wales… Nobody ever got in touch with me personally from England, only through my agent.” A history maker in the Champions League with Real Madrid, Bale is the Dragons’ leading goalscorer of all time, having surpassed the tally of legendary striker Ian Rush in 2018.
Victor Moses played for both England’s U19 and U21 teams after arriving in the country as a child asylum seeker. He then, however, opted to represent Nigeria, where he was born. Despite turning out for the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Inter, Moses may not have been a regular starter for the Three Lions – though he became an important member of the Super Eagles squad before retiring in the aftermath of the 2018 World Cup.
Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay was born in England to a Scottish father and so there was a chance that he could have played for either country at international level. In 2018, former Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho said that McTominay should declare for Scotland, suggesting that he wasn’t valued by England, and the midfielder eventually threw his lot in with the Tartan Army.
While Erling Haaland did not strictly ‘snub’ England, the powerful striking sensation would have been eligible for the Three Lions before he made his senior bow for Norway in 2019. The son of former Manchester City and Leeds midfielder Alf Inge Haaland, the striker was born in Leeds in 2000 and lived in England for just under four years of his life.
Haaland was integrated within the Norway youth set-up from U15 level on and Gareth Southgate believes that a switch was never realistic.
“We recruit early, but we wouldn’t have been into him when he was still in Yorkshire, that’s for sure,” said the England boss. “We’re always trying to monitor those cases, but I think in that instance he was tied up pretty early by Norway and I think also, with players like him, they’re quite clear where they want to play as well.
“He feels that allegiance to the country that he’s playing for now and you’re always very respectful of that.”
Defender Ciaran Clark wore the captain’s armband for England on a number of occasions at U19 and U20 level, but declared for the Republic of Ireland at the age of 21. Legendary Irish defender Richard Dunne was his team-mate at Aston Villa at the time and was reported to have played a big part in influencing Clark to switch allegiance.
Liverpool prospect Ben Woodburn was born in Nottingham, England, but only ever played for Wales at international level. Once dubbed “the next Steven Gerrard”, the midfielder turned down the chance to play for the England U16 team and has picked up his share of caps for the Dragons ever since, chipping in with some goals too.
Wilfried Zaha has been one of Crystal Palace’s best players for a number of years now and is another one who got away for England as he made two appearances for the Three Lions’ senior side in friendlies in 2012-13. He then stated his desire to switch allegiances and play for the Ivory Coast, the country of his birth.
Lewis Holtby, who played for Tottenham from 2013 to 2015, is the son of a former British soldier who was stationed in Monchengladbach. Born and raised in Germany, he decided to play for the four-time World Champions, captaining their U21 side and earning three senior caps.
Nottingham-born defender Wes Morgan never represented the Three Lions at youth level and made his first senior appearance for Jamaica in 2013, with whom heearned a total of 30 senior caps. Morgan retired from international football in 2016, but was part of two CopaAmerica squads and played in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Ashley Williams was born in Wolverhampton but qualified for the Welsh teamthrough his maternal grandfather, Bill Rowlands fromGelliinRhondda. Hewas appointed captain of his national side by then manager Chris Coleman in 2012, replacingAaron Ramsey, and featured in their run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
Despite popular belief, the former Manchester United man was never eligible to play for England before he was capped – having been born in Wales to Welsh parents – despite captaining the England Schoolboys. New rules drawn up in 2009, however, stated that he would have been able to play for England had he not already played for Wales on a competitive level.
After representing England at youth level, former Chelsea right-back Ola Aina decided to switch allegiances and represent Nigeria atsenior level. He has been in and out of Super Eagles squads and, while he missed out on a place in their 2018 World Cup panel, he was included in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations group.
World Cup winner Simone Perrotta was able to play for England, having been born in Manchester,but chose Italy instead, first at U21 level at the 2000 U21 Football Championship. He made 48 appearances for Italy, scoring two goals in total before retiringfrom international duty in 2009.
Harry Kewell has English heritage – hisfather was born in England – and thatallowed the gifted midfielder to accept a trial at Leeds United with an Australian passport as a youngster. Nevertheless heremained with the Socceroos for 16 years, earning 56 caps and scoring 17goals. He was part of two World Cup squads (2006 and 2010) as well as being included in the 1997 Confederations Cup panel.
Chuba Akpom is another youngster who represented England at all youth levels before declaring for Nigeria. He is set to follow in the footsteps of players such as Ola Aina and Alex Iwobi, though has yet to represent the Super Eagles.
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