Wilshere clarifies England views

Jack Wilshere has attempted to clarify his view of eligibility for the England side after a Twitter row with Kevin Pietersen.

Last Updated: 10/10/13 at 00:22 Post Comment   

Wilshere's views were questioned by Pietersen

Wilshere's views were questioned by Pietersen

England midfielder Jack Wilshere has attempted to diffuse an escalating row over his view of eligibility for the national side.

Wilshere sent out a series of tweets on Wednesday evening aimed at clarifying his position over a delicate issue, which he initially waded into during a press conference ahead of England's World Cup qualifier with Montenegro on Friday.

"To be clear, never said 'born in England' - I said English people should play for England," said Wilshere.

"Great respect for people like KP (Kevin Pietersen), Mo Farah and Wilf Zaha - they make the country proud.

"My view on football - going to a new country when ur an adult, & because u can get a passport u play 4 that national team - I disagree.

"Just saying my opinion, everyone is entitled to theirs. Can't wait for Friday night..."

Earlier, Wilshere became embroiled in a Twitter spat with Pietersen after initially hitting out at the idea that Manchester United rising star Adnan Januzaj could one day don the Three Lions.

Januzaj, who scored twice on his full debut for Manchester United at the weekend, was born in Belgium and could represent either Turkey, Serbia or Kosovo - who are not currently a recognised FIFA nation.

However, he would also be eligible to play for England if he remained in the country for five years after his 18th birthday, which was in February this year.

It is understood that Januzaj will not make a decision on his international future until he is playing regular first-team football, and that any decision would be made in consultation with his Albanian-born father.

Crucially, he is not dismissing the prospect of playing for England, an uncomfortable prospect for Wilshere, who claimed: "The only people who should play for England are English people."

Wilshere later claimed his comments were taken out of context.

However, even a clarification failed to pacify Pietersen, England's South Africa-born Ashes hero, who has played 99 Tests for his adopted country, for whom he qualifies through his English mother.

The 33-year-old reeled off a number of star sportsmen who represent the country despite being born abroad as evidence that foreigners can play for England with pride.

Pietersen tweeted: "@JackWilshere - interested to know how you define foreigner...? Would that include me, (Andrew) Strauss, (Jonathan) Trott, (Matthew) Prior, Justin Rose, (Chris) Froome, Mo Farah?"

Wilshere tried to defend his comments by responding with: "@KP24 With all due respect Mr Pietersen the question was about Football! Cricket, cycling, Athletics is not my field!"

That did not satisfy Pietersen, however, who hit back with: "@JackWilshere same difference.. It's about representing your country! IN ANY SPORT!"

Wilshere again tried to play down the row: "@KP24 I agree that's exactly what i was saying...."

Most former England stars agree broadly with Wilshere.

However, FA chairman Greg Dyke does not want England to find themselves at a disadvantage by ignoring FIFA's eligibility rules.

And if other countries are selecting players like Januzaj, who would be eligible for England on residency grounds in February 2018, the Three Lions would be shooting themselves in the foot by avoiding the same loophole.

"We need to look at the rules," said Dyke.

"We need to look at what other countries are doing and whether we are putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage by not doing it.

"I am not saying, let's grab him or not grab him. It is a wider case because his is not the only case.

"Longer term, what I really care about is that kids coming through the system have the opportunity to play at the highest level if they have got the talent."

The debate about sportsmen playing for England despite being born in a different country is nothing new.

The England cricket team has regularly been populated with players from all four corners of the globe, as has the national side in both rugby codes.

Football has tended to regard itself as slightly different.

Mikel Arteta, Manuel Almunia and Carlo Cudicini have all been eligible to play for England in the past, but the England squad has been strong enough to cope without them.

However, with so few young players of a high enough standard emerging, the idea of Januzaj turning out for his newly-adopted country is not as crazy as it once may have seemed.

England boss Roy Hodgson has admitted he will be keeping a close eye on the Belgium-born wide-man's development.

And Wayne Rooney has admitted he is in two minds about the concept.

"I don't know," he said.

"Adnan is a tremendous talent. If he wants to play for England, he has to go and speak to the manager and go through the right people.

"You see a lot of different nationalities playing for the cricket team but football has been quite traditional and stayed with English players.

"It's a difficult one."

Wilshere received the backing of his club manager, Arsene Wenger.

Wenger told BBC Sport: "I agree with him. I always said also an Englishman should manage the England team.

"If we are not clear on that the national teams will become like a club."


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