Wilshere against Januzaj move

Jack Wilshere believes the FA should forget any idea of ushering Adnan Januzaj into the England fold.

Last Updated: 09/10/13 at 19:06 Post Comment

Jack Wilshere believes the Football Association should forget any idea of ushering Manchester United youngster Adnan Januzaj into the England fold.

It has become apparent Januzaj could eventually be eligible for England through residency, having so far opted not to commit to any alternative.

The 18-year-old joined United in 2011, and would qualify for England duty if he remained in the country until February 2018.

It seems unlikely that is the path Januzaj would choose to follow given he was born in Belgium and is also available for Serbia, Albania and Turkey, as well as Kosovo, although they are not an officially sanctioned FIFA country.

However, Wilshere is uncomfortable with the mere prospect.

"The only people who should play for England are English people," he said.

"If you live in England for five years it doesn't make you English.

"If I went to Spain and lived there for five years I am not going to play for Spain.

"We have to remember what we are.

"We are English. We tackle hard, are tough on the pitch and are hard to beat.

"We have great characters. You think of Spain and you think technical but you think of England and you think they are brave and they tackle hard. We have to remember that."

It has been noted following the departure of their second continental manager - Fabio Capello - ahead of Euro 2012, the FA ignored an approach on behalf of Pep Guardiola, so keen were they to install an English replacement.

Wilshere backed that move, even though he admitted he has plenty to thank Capello for.

"Don't get me wrong, Capello did a lot for my England career," he said.

"He brought me here, gave me my debut and stuck with me from a young age so he was a good manager.

"But I think it would be better if there was an Englishman."

It is rather unfortunate for Januzaj to find himself at the centre of such a debate for it is thought his reluctance to commit his international future stems from an acute knowledge of the sensitivities surrounding the political status of Kosovo.

He has certainly never expressed a desire to represent England and, purely on football grounds, it would appear a fairly straightforward decision to choose Belgium, who have so many good players at their disposal and look set to book their own World Cup berth over the coming days.

The situation is not clear cut though.

There have been plenty of non-English born players who have worn the Three Lions, whilst of the present Under-21 squad, Raheem Sterling was born in Jamaica and Wilfried Zaha in Ivory Coast.

"It's a difficult one," admitted England Under-21 coach Gareth Southgate.

"He (Januzaj) has not played for anyone else.

"We have lots of boys in our squad who were not born here, whose families have fled here.

"There are some wonderful stories and they are all incredibly proud to play for England.

"I'm torn with it. The world is changing. People move and work abroad.

"It is important to know why someone wants to play for you.

"We seem to have embraced the cricket team that has won the Ashes but it is a really interesting, philosophical debate."

Former Football Association chairman David Bernstein believes England must take advantage of the residency rule that could open the door for Januzaj to play for the Three Lions.

Januzaj would be 23 before he was England-ready, and Bernstein has no problem with the FA looking at all their options, given other countries may be doing the same.

"We live in a changing world where there is much more fluidity in terms of population movements," Bernstein told BBC Radio Five Live.

"I'd say we must play within the rules obviously, 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.

"Other countries do that and we want to be on a level playing field doing that.

"I would prefer to see a team made up of people who are born and bred, and so on, but I think we have to play within the rules and get the very best team. I think that's what the public want; I think that's what the fans want."

Asked if the five-year residency rule was sufficient a qualification, Bernstein added: "If that is the rule and we can take advantage of the rule then I think probably we should if that gives us a better team."


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