England for the English, cries Wilshere after Januzaj row
Arsenal midfielder insists that foreign players should not be allowed to qualify for England
ENGLAND for the English! That's the message from Jack Wilshere, who has waded into the debate about Manchester United midfielder Adnan Januzaj by declaring his belief that the Belgian teenager should never wear the Three Lions shirt.
Ever since the 18-year-old Januzaj scored twice for United in their 2-1 defeat of Sunderland on Saturday, the issue has dominated the back pages. Should the Football Association move heaven and earth to have Januzaj playing for England?
As we reported yesterday the 18-year-old, born in Belgium to Kosovan-Albanian parents, has yet to declare which country he would like to play for in international football, though to date he has turned down Belgium's advances, and his refusal to commit himself has led to speculation that he could one day play for England.
Quite why Januzaj would want to choose England over Belgium is anyone's guess. The latter lie sixth in the Fifa rankings, the Three Lions languish in 17th spot. Perhaps he likes the long ball game. But if Januzaj did end up playing for England he can expect to receive no passes from Wilshere.
"For me, if you are English you are English and you play for England," said the Arsenal midfielder, currently preparing for Friday's crucial World Cup qualifier against Montenegro. "The only people who should play for England are English people. If you live in England for five years it doesn't make you English. You shouldn't play. If I went to Spain and lived there for five years, I am not going to play for Spain." He might have a point about Spain, given the quality of their squad.
Wilshere then took a swipe at the national team's critics, those who suspect England haven't got the technical savoir-faire to compete with the best in the world. "We are English and we tackle hard and we are tough on the pitch and we are hard to beat," declared Wilshere. "We have great characters. You think of Spain and you think technical, but you think of England and you think they are brave and they tackle hard. We have to remember that."
Spanish defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique might take issue with Wilshere's insinuation that the Spanish don't go in hard, and the Arsenal star might want to avoid several of Britain's top sportsmen for the foreseeable future.
If Wilshere had his way, the England cricket team could be deprived of South African-born Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott; the rugby team of Dylan Hartley (New Zealand), Manu Tuilagi (Samoa) and Brad Barritt (South Africa). Chris Froome would have been the first Kenyan to win the Tour de France and Mo Farah would be the greatest athlete ever produced by Somalia.
Farah, an Arsenal fan, has his autobiography published this week. It's a weighty tome, chronicling his stunning success at last year's Olympics. He should use a copy to try and knock some sense into Wilshere. ·