LONDON, (Reuters) – It would be wrong for Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj to play for the England team as only English people should be selected, Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has said.
Januzaj was born in Belgium to Kosovan-Albanian parents and has Turkish grandparents but could qualify for England under FIFA rules if he is resident in the country continuously for five years.
“If you’ve lived in England for five years, for me, it doesn’t make you English. You shouldn’t play,” Wilshere was quoted as saying by British media yesterday.
“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,” added the midfielder who is in the squad to face Montenegro in tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier.
Januzaj, 18, who hit the headlines after scoring twice for United in the 2-1 Premier League win over Sunderland last weekend, has not won a cap for any country and would have to wait until 2018 if he wanted to represent England.
His performances have caught the eye of England manager Roy Hodgson, who has said Januzaj was being monitored.
“We have to remember what we are. We are English. We tackle hard, are tough on the pitch and are hard to beat,” said Wilshere who drew criticism recently after being photographed with a cigarette in his mouth.
“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.”
England under-21 manager Gareth Southgate compared the situation to that of the national cricket team, which has several overseas-born players.