With the news that David Beckham will likely miss the World Cup through injury and the continued worries about the fitness of Ashley Cole and Aaron Lennon and whether they will recover in time for South Africa, there are some places up for grabs in the England squad. Fabio Capello needs to consider the best players available for the World Cup: so why does the Italian not look to naturalised foreigners to get the job done? These are players who were born in foreign countries, have not represented their own country at senior level, but have played in England for five years, therefore are eligible for British citizenship. Other countries have done it, so why can’t England? Deco and Eduardo were born in Brazil but play for Portugal and Croatia respectively, France won the World Cup in 1998 with Marcel Desailly and Patrick Vieira, neither whom were born in France. In cricket, Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pieterson play for England, despite both being born in South Africa.
Apparently there is a so-called “gentleman’s agreement” at the FA that prevents Capello from picking naturalised foreigners. But if it makes the England team better then they need to be picked, and Capello should be the man to break that trend. Remember, Owen Hargreaves was born in Canada but plays for England and that has been a success. Capello also had the chance to pick Arsenal’s Gael Clichy in 2008, but refused and the left back then made his debut for France. Here are five players that could do a job for England if Capello wants to drag England into the 21st century and improve our chances of World Cup glory.
There has been much debate whether the Arsenal keeper should make the England squad. Almunia has no chance of playing for Spain, given the keepers that Spain possesses, which include the likes of Iker Casillas, Pepe Reina and Victor Valdes. Almunia has expressed his desire to play for England, and can become a naturalised British citizen because he has been in the UK for six years.
When asked about the possibility of the Arsenal keeper making the England squad, Capello said: “Almunia, for me, is Spanish.” The Arsenal keeper is occasionally accident-prone and lacks international experience, but his experience playing for Arsenal in the Champions League could prove to be invaluable, especially as the likes of Joe Hart and Robert Green lack the experience of playing at the very top level.
Another Spaniard that could play for England is Everton’s Mikel Arteta. The playmaker cannot get into the Spain squad because of the likes of Fabregas, Alonso, Silva, Xavi and Iniesta, that dominate the Spanish midfield. Possessing excellent control, dead ball expertise and great at dribbling, Arteta is the best candidate on this list and could do a job for England, where his creativity would be a valuable asset in unlocking opposing defence’s.
Capped by France at U-21 level, N’Zogbia’s pace, trickery and ability to play in England’s problematic left-wing position could make him a valuable asset to the England squad. However, there are numerous obstacles standing in the way of the Wigan man: notably the likes of Ashley Young, Theo Walcott, Joe Cole, James Milner, Aaron Lennon, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stuart Downing, who are all vying for the extra spots in the England midfield.
Like N’Zogbia, Malbranque has never represented France at senior level and is eligible to play for England, after spells at Fulham, Spurs and Sunderland. Creative, and capable of the spectacular, I like Malbranque as a player but the amount of competition for places in the England midfield could count against the Sunderland midfielder.
I’m grouping these two together, because both are eligible for England but have a very slim chance of being picked. Cudicini has been in the England conversation for years now, after impressing when at Chelsea. The Italian is still recovering from the motorcycle accident he was involved in last November, and the form of Gomes for Spurs is likely to keep Cudicini out of the side when he returns, so Capello won’t pick him if he doesn’t feature for Tottenham. Regarding Distin, the defender has been in England for nine years, with spells at Newcastle, Portsmouth and Everton. The only thing counting against Distin is the competition, which are all better than him, with John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Matthew Upson, Jolean Lescott, and if he can stay fit, Ledley King, all vying for the centre back position.
Could any of these foreigners make the England squad in the near future?
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