Jack Wilshere defends stance on England eligibility
‘The question was 'should foreign players be allowed to play for England', and ... I don’t think they should’
Adnan Januzaj of Manchester United has become the centre of a debate over the naturalising of players for international football. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
England’s Jack Wilshere speaks during a press conference at St George’s Park, Burton. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Jack Wilshere has reiterated his opinion that naturalised players should not be picked by England, but has insisted that he was not specifically referring to Adnan Januzaj, whom he called “a great player”.
“The question was should foreign players be allowed to play for England, and in my opinion I don’t think they should!” he said on his twitter feed.
In another tweet, he said: “Just to clarify a few things....again! Seems to be a trend in this country, poor journalism in my eyes! I wasn’t referring to Janujaz...”
He added: “I wish he was English! I’m sure most of you agree with me even if some journalist are trying to make me look bad....again!”
On Tuesday, Wilshere said: “For me, if you are English, you are English, and you play for England. The only people who should play for England are English people.
“If you’ve lived in England for five years, for me, it doesn’t make you English. You shouldn’t play. It doesn’t mean you can play for that country. If I went to Spain and lived there for five years, I’m not going to play for Spain. For me an English player should play for England really.”
The Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has revealed discussions have started regarding eligibility, saying: “I don’t think it comes down to individuals,” he said. “It comes down to saying what principles do we want to abide by and we ought to look at those and say ‘OK, do you draw the boundary there or do you draw it there?’
“The idea that somebody who is not born in this country cannot play here is not real, but how long should they be here?
“But then you’ve got to look at what Fifa say, what are the Fifa rules on it?
“The FA are looking at what we think is appropriate and that is now what we are going through the process of.”
Pressed further on whether he would like to have a player of Januzaj’s quality in the England set-up, Dyke said: “I’d like to have 11. Yes, well, obviously you want players of quality, but whether that means you change the basis of the decisions that we have taken... this isn’t a unique experience.
“There have been English players before that were not born in England to have played for the national side and it happens in many other sports. The question is how far do you push it?”
Dyke’s predecessor David Bernstein had earlier weighed into the debate over England eligibility when he told BBC Radio 5 that it make sense to take advantage of the five-year eligibility rule “if that can give us the better team”.
Bernstein said: “We live in a changing world where there’s much more fluidity of populations and I would say that we must play within the rules. But if within the rules there are players who are eligible to play for England I would be inclined to pick the best players we can get.
“I think other countries do that, we want to be on a level playing field in doing that. I would prefer to see a team made up of players who were born and bred in England but I think we have to play within the rules and get the very best team, I think that that’s what the public want and that’s what the fans want.”
According to Fifa statutes a player is eligible to play for a country if he has “lived continuously for at least five years after reaching the age of 18 in the territory of the relevant association”.