Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Is Wilshere Right?

At yesterday's press conference, Jack Wilshere stated his belief that only English people should play for England.

This comes amid the news that Manchester United's Belgium born winger Adnan Januzaj, could play for England in five years time under the residency rule. Asked about the possibility of this happening, Wilshere 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".

Now this is all well and good but what the Arsenal man didn't make clear is on what grounds is someone English. So what does make someone English?. Lets take Raheem Sterling, the Liverpool winger was called up by England manager Roy Hodgson last year, however Sterling was born in Kingston, Jamaica and lived there for the first five years of his life. Going back a few years there was Owen Hargreaves. Although he had an English father, he was born in Canada and could have also represented Wales due to his mother.

Examples like these are littered all around British sport, particularly in the modern era. In July British sports fans were overjoyed as another Brit won the Tour de France. Chris Froome had triumphed in the name of Team Sky and Great Britain, but wait, Froome was born in Kenya and schooled in South Africa. Over the last few years England have had a number of Ashes winning cricketers including Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss, Matt Prior and Jonathan Trott, who were all born in South Africa. Even the man who kicked the ball into touch to confirm England's 2003 Rugby World Cup win Mike Catt, was born and bred in South Africa.

England are not the only country at it, other examples include the German football side who are often full of Polish born players. The Irish cricket team have contained a number of players from the southern hemisphere and even the New Zealand rugby team have produced line ups full of players from the likes of Tonga and Samoa.

Whilst Wilshere's idea of only English people representing England is understandable, how can you tell whether someone is English or not. Times have changed and there is now an unmistakable grey area as to whether someone are the nationality they claim. I suppose for the majority of sports fans, if they are successful, it  doesn't really matter.

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