Playing soccer for The Queen: What makes someone 'English'?

What makes one English? Its more than soccer, tea and The Queen. Photo: Images of London / Wikipedia

LONDON, Novemvber 1, 2013 – Soccer is as much a symbol of England’s idenity as tea or The Queen.

Should being English be a requisite to playing football for England?  What makes a person English? 

Adnan Januzaj plays football (soccer to you lot) for the best team in England’s Premier League, Manchester United.  Born to Albanian - Kosovan parents but brought up in Belgium, he has yet to declare which international team he wants to play for. 

Maybe, we English thought, marvelling at the way his dancing feet have befuddled all who stand in the way of him and the goal, he might want to play for England. 

Why are those Brits wondering if he could play for their national soccer team when Januzaj is not English?  Because FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, allows a player to register with a particular national team it that player has been a resident of the country for five years.

Frankly, England could use him. Since English clubs got rich off the back of TV rights, the best players from all over the world have been drawn like intoxicated moths to the flame of bumper salaries. The only drawback to the splendid spectacle of watching these virtuosos perform has been England’s sons having less opportunities to show what they can do.  

As a result, England’s national team is suffering as less English players coming through the youth teams get to perform at the top level. 

There is a World Cup competition next year and England is worried it will have to go through another period of national malaise once their boys have squandered the opportunity to show they are the best in the world.  This has happened every four years since 1966 but it doesn’t stop the dreaming.

Weighing into the nationality debate was one of England’s best young players, Jack Wilshere. Wilshere was born in England and has represented his country on the soccer pitch. 

“If you live in England for five years, it doesn’t make you English.” he said, before adding “the only people that should play for England are English people. If I went and lived in Spain for five years, I’m not going to play for Spain”. 

So, how should we judge what makes you English? 

Here is the criteria they need to fit.  Do they love a cup of tea?  Do they know the words to at least a couple of Beatles songs?  Are they prepared to have the name of their Mum/children/dog tattooed onto a visible part of their anatomy?  Do they love a curry?  If they answered ‘Yes’ to all of the above and they can juggle a ball for a minute or so without letting it drop, they’re certainly in with a shout.

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Lee Mannion

Lee Mannion is a writer and photo editor that lives in Notting Hill, London. He enjoys cycling, pubs and forests but is not so keen on social inequality, SUVs and the expression ‘my bad’.


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