International football is the dream for many players around the world; it’s the pinnacle of success to represent your country. However, there’s a vast crop of players vying for limited spaces – the easiest way to secure your place is to hark back through the family tree and find an alternative nation to pledge your allegiance to. Here is a list of players who changed their nationality.
Probably not the best known footballer of all time; Matt Holland is a former midfielder who bounced around Bournemouth, Ipswich Town and Charlton Athletic during his seventeen-year professional career. He started out at West Ham United, despite being born in Bury, Greater Manchester.
More perplexing than why Holland moved to London for his football is the fact he represented the Republic of Ireland 49 times courtesy of an Irish grandmother. Frankly, he probably would’ve been more use than Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were for England.
The Brazilian-born striker actually represented the Samba side twice, but both games were friendlies and he then fell out of favour with his former national side.
After spending six years in Spanish football, Diego Costa qualified citizenship and promptly took up the opportunity to play for Spain. Former Brazil manager, Luiz Filipe Scolari claimed Costa had turned his back on his country by making the change but, then again, maybe he should’ve selected him more often?
Strictly speaking, Ryan Giggs never changed his stripes. He was born in Cardiff and represented Wales 64 times, but he did make a single appearance for England Schoolboys in 1989 – he even scored a goal and captained the team.
However, the rules on Schoolboys isn’t the same as it is for the full national side. Giggs’ school was located in England, ergo he qualified for the England Schoolboys side rather than the Welsh side.
A sore point for many as Wilfried Zaha represented England through the Under 19s, also earning two full caps for the senior squad but he opted to represent his native Ivory Coast instead.
It seems that Zaha’s fledgling career will continue to cause controversy no matter what the winger does. Misfit at Manchester United for ‘personal reasons’, unwilling to wait for a chance to secure a place in the England squad – what else is he going to do before he really annoys someone?
As many people know, Lukas Podolski is actually Polish and was eager to play for Poland’s national side up until he was informed by then manager, Pawel Janas, that the Polish side had better striking options available.
Granted, Podolski had represented the German Under 17, 18, 19 and 21 sides before he was called up by Rudi Voller and the rest is history – one of the best to ever wear the German national shirt according to his teammates. Unlucky Poland.
Neven Subotic – switched allegiance from the United States to Serbia after being born in Yugoslavia. Neven Subotic’s family moved to the US and allowed him to choose between his new country, Bosnia and Serbia.
Adnan Januzaj – born in Kosovo, Januzaj had the world at his feet when he burst onto the scene for David Moyes’ Man United side. He opted for Belgium over several other nations, including England.
Aiden McGeady – with a surname like that, you should’ve guessed immediately that the Republic of Ireland international Aiden McGeady is, in fact, Scottish. However, he decided to represent Ireland thanks to his grandparents – the more you know!