They Could Have Played For England!

With new Manchester United striker Falcao revealing his great-grandfather was an accountant from Yorkshire, I look at some other top players who would have qualified for the England national side.

Manuel Almunia

Soccer - Sky Bet Championship - Birmingham City v Watford - St Andrew's

The recently retired Spaniard, like fellow keeper Carlo Cudicini, often stated his desire to play for England, should a call-up from his country of birth never materialise. The former Arsenal keeper applied for British citizenship but never made it at international level for either country.

Sylvain Distin

Soccer - Leon Osman Testimonial - Everton v FC Porto - Goodison Park

The veteran Everton defender qualifies for England, having lived in the country since his move to Manchester City twelve years ago. He never received a call-up for his native France – or England, despite playing more Premier League games than any other foreign player.

He humourously announced his international retirement earlier this year, calling his “0 caps” a “wonderful experience”.

Ryan Giggs


Giggs famously captained England Schoolboys, as Ryan Wilson, before declaring for the nation of his birth.

Despite making 64 appearances for Wales, he missed a multitude of internationals and would surely have solved England’s left-wing problem during his illustrious career. The closest he got was representing Great Britain at the London Olympics.

Tim Cahill

Brazil Soccer WCup Australia Netherlands

It’s hard to imagine Tim Cahill playing for any international side other than Australia, but the former Everton and Millwall midfielder could have played for England – the country of his father’s birth. He was actually offered a chance at representing Ireland at the 2002 World Cup – through Irish grandparents – but he was cap-tied due to a couple of appearances for Samoa at youth level.

FIFA changed its eligibility rules in 2004 and he became eligible for England, Australia, Ireland and Samoa. However, he plumped for the country of his birth and made 75 appearances for the Socceroos.

Simone Perrotta

Soccer - UEFA European Championship 2008 Qualifying - Group B - Scotland v Italy - Hampden Park

The former Roma midfielder was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, where his parents ran a pub, and lived in England until the age of four.

He is one of three men from the area to win the World Cup, along with Geoff Hurst and Jimmy Armfield. However, Perrotta won his in 2006 with Italy, for whom he won 48 caps.

Mikel Arteta

Soccer - European Under16 Championship - Final - Poland v Spain

The Arsenal midfielder played at almost all underage levels for Spain but, due to the abundance of options for the national side, he never won a senior cap.

The length of his service in the Premier League at one stage made him eligible for England, but FIFA rule changes scuppered any chance of appearing for his nation of residency for almost a decade.

Louis Saha

Soccer - UEFA European Championship 2004 - Group B - Croatia v France

The former Manchester United and Fulham striker did represent France at youth level, but was asked to switch allegiance to England by former national team boss Sven Goran Eriksson.

The Swede wasn’t shy at trying to recruit eligible overseas players, also approaching Carlo Cudicini, Steed Malbranque and Edu to opt for England. However, the moment England’s interest became known both Saha and Edu were called up to the French and Brazilian teams respectively.