Irish players who’ve also played for England

The parameters for declaring a nationality when playing English football are being a UK resident, having English parents, or having English grandparents.

It is so broad that it often gives the players more than one home nation to choose from. As such, a player can change nationalities, although only once, and Irish players are more frequently moving to England.

These players have been supported as if they were English through team cheers and as fan favourites, as well as through punters placing bets on them. Irish players who know is Ireland’s premier gaming destination also actively bet on their boys. Let’s look at who they are and why they chose to move.

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Declan Rice

One of the best-known English players at the moment is Declan Rice. His football career for Ireland began with the U16s team, which he followed to the senior level, where he appeared in three friendly matches under the management of Martin O’Neill. After his third appearance, England sought out Rice, and he committed England after deliberation. He immediately faced backlash from the Irish community for his decision to leave but has had great success under England’s manager, Gareth Southgate. Rice has won 50 caps so far and shows no signs of stopping any time soon, as he has been a mainstay in the squad.

Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish made several appearances for Ireland in the U21s squad but only made a senior appearance after opting to play for England. Unlike Rice, his sign-up was much less guaranteed, and he took more risk with this move. In 2016, he made his U21 debut for England, two years after his last appearance for Ireland.

It was a further four years before he made the senior squad. The midfielder has earned 35 caps and is still being called up for the English squad while playing for arguably the best club side in the world, Manchester City.

Patrick Bamford

Patrick Bamford was well known amongst the Irish players for some time, with his first international appearance for England being at the U18 level, through to playing at the senior level. Despite being heavily rumoured to be called up for the Irish senior squad at the U18 level, he chose to pursue his career with England and has since earned just one cap in 2021. He hasn’t played for them again, and it is unlikely that he will make another appearance since he is already 30.

Commenting on his decisions, Bamford explained that when Mick McCarthy first contacted him, he had a knee injury, so his focus was to regain his fitness and get back on the pitch. He stated that by that time, his heart was in England, and playing for Ireland felt like the wrong thing to do.

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CJ Egan-Riley

Born in Manchester, CJ Egan-Riley made several appearances for Ireland U16s. Despite this, his career began as a seven-year-old in Manchester, and he was considered the most highly rated player at the academy during his time there. He joined Burnley in 2022, though he is currently on loan to Jong PSV. As a young player of just 21 years, his career is just beginning, and there are rumours that he may return to Ireland.

Michael Keane

A well-known English player, Michael Keane made his football debut for Ireland at the U17 and U19 levels before committing to England in 2012. He has since earned 12 caps for England, and it is improbable he will add to that, considering he is already 31 years old.

In contrast, his twin brother Will began his career for various English teams during his youth and was called up at the senior level by Stephen Kenny in 2021, where he earned four Irish caps.

Louie Barry

At the ripe young age of 19, Louie Barry has yet to earn his first cap for England, but that hasn’t stopped him from making it his nation of choice. Rising to fame through West Brom, he is often considered one of the most promising English players.

He played for England U5s before moving to Ireland for U16s in 2018. He then moved back to England for U18s. We are still wondering where he will end up, but his preference is England.

Michael Golding

At just 17-years-old, Michael Golding is a lesser-known player but has a promising future. The midfielder is currently captain of Chelsea’s U18 team but played for Ireland’s U16s once in 2021. He has since committed to England and was made captain of the U17 team, a title he still holds today. Although he has chosen to play for England, given his young age, there is still every chance he could take to the pitch for Ireland in the future.

Harry Kane

Conversely, let’s look at someone who could have played for Ireland but chose not to. Harry Kane has strong Irish roots, with his grandparents coming from Galway. Although the England captain still has family there, he has asserted he’s never considered playing for Ireland. He is England’s top goal scorer with 89 caps and 62 goals.

Although there is a broad shift from playing for Ireland to England due to the broad rules regarding heritage and nationality, coupled with English rule in Ireland, many more players can do so yet choose not to. The fact that these players have bounced back and forth shows us that making a career choice like this goes beyond where you were born and who you were born to.

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