Ten players who could have played for England but didn’t

Contrary to popular opinion, Manchester United stalwart Ryan Giggs was never eligible to play for the England national team.

While he represented England Schoolboys in 1989, this eligibility was due to the location of the school, and senior national team rules are different.

However, there are many players who have been eligible for England but either chose another nation or were never selected.

Here are ten of the biggest stars who could have played for England, but didn’t.

Gareth Bale

It seems like a ridiculous concept now, given that Gareth Bale is emblematic of the Welsh national football team, but the star winger of Real Madrid could have laced up his boots for England.

Bale was born in Cardiff but held eligibility through his English grandmother.

Bale made his debut for Wales in 2006, but has since stated that no-one from the England team ever got in contact with him to discuss potentially playing for the national team.

Bale is a famously proud Welshman, so it seems unlikely that he would ever have changed allegiance.

Victor Moses

The 2016/17 season was something of a breakout year for Victor Moses.

He had already been a well-regarded player with successful loan spells at West Ham, Liverpool and Stoke City.

But when Antonio Conte took over Chelsea in 2016, Moses was brought back into his parent club and became a key player during the club’s Premier League title-winning campaign.

Given this success it seems a shame that Moses, who has lived in England since he was 11 and represented the country at a variety of youth levels, chose instead to play for Nigeria, the country of his birth.

Lewis Holtby

The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Lewis Holtby has been called up to the German national team, appearing in their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

He now plays his club football in Germany too, so you might be surprised to know that he is the son of a British soldier who was stationed in Monchengladbach.

Despite his father’s best efforts, Holtby chose to represent Germany rather than England.

Wes Morgan

Born and raised in Nottingham and had a fairly unconventional rise to Premier League stardom.

Rejected for a professional contract from his youth team Notts County, Morgan played semi-professionally as a midfielder at one of the lower levels of non-League football.

At the age of 18 he was recruited by Nottingham Forest before joining Championship side Leicester in 2012.

With little prospect of playing for England national team, Morgan accepted a call up to the Jamaican national side in 2013, which he was eligible for due to his ancestry.

When he was a played a starring role in Leicester’s title winning 2015/16 season, interest was raised about the English-born Morgan, but it was too late for him to represent the country of his birth.

That didn’t stop Harry Redknapp from raising the possibility, however.

Louis Saha

Louis Saha played for more than ten years in the Premier League including for Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham.

Under Sven-Goran Eriksson’s tenure as the England manager, he reportedly attempted to convince Saha to apply for British citizenship in order to play for the national side.

Saha rejected the idea and went on to earn caps for his home country, France.

Manuel Almunia

The Spanish-born goalkeeper Almunia had ten year run in English football, including a largely forgettable spell as Arsenal’s number one.

During that time he stated that he would be happy to play for the England national team, as long as he wasn’t called up to the Spanish side first.

As it happens, neither call up happened and Almunia retired without representing either country.

Simone Perrotta

Simone Perrotta is not a household name in the UK, but he had a very successful career in Italy, including playing every single game in his country’s 2006 World Cup win.

But the midfielder could just as easily have found himself representing England, as he was born in Ashton-under-Lyne.

We can all probably agree that he made the right choice…

Steven N’Zonzi

Steven N’Zonzi is someone who appears to be desperate to pull on the latest England shirt – but it doesn’t look like he’ll ever get a chance.

The midfielder actually has three levels of potential eligibility.

Born in France but of Congolese descent, he also contacted the English Football Association to make himself available for selection to the England team.

Unfortunately he was ineligible due to an appearance for the French U21 national team.

Carlo Cudicini and Mikel Arteta 

Former Chelsea and Tottenham goalkeeper Cudicini and ex-Everton and Arsenal midfielder Arteta both briefly held eligibility to play for England until new FIFA rules removed the possibility.

As both players had represented their home countries only at junior levels, they could have played for the England senior team.

However, in 2010 rules were brought in that stated players would not be eligible to play for another team unless they held a passport for that country when they played at junior level for another country.

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