|(Football) England for the English, insists Arsenal’s Wilshere
England footballer Jack Wilshere (pictured) who also wear Arsenal colors, has stirred a debate about foreign-born players, declaring that only “English people'' should represent the national team.
But he was branded as “too extreme'' by the head of the English Football Association.
The issue of foreign-born players resurfaced after the FA said it was looking into whether Manchester United's Belgium-born midfielder Adnan Januzaj can play for England.
The 18-year-old Januzaj, who joined United in 2011, scored twice in his Premier League debut on Saturday, leading his side to a 2-1 win over Sunderland, AFP reports.
Januzaj could become eligible for England in 2018 on residency grounds. Because of his parents' heritage, he is also eligible to represent Serbia, Albania and Turkey, as well as Kosovo, which is not yet recognized by FIFA.
Midfielder Wilshere, does not believe players such as Januzaj should be allowed to pull on an England shirt.
“The only people who should play for England are English people,'' the Arsenal player said. “If you live in England for five years it doesn't make you English. If I went to Spain and lived there for five years I am not going to play for Spain.
“We have to remember what we are. We are English. We tackle hard, are tough on the pitch and are hard to beat.''
The England team has long featured players who weren't born in the country, including Jamaica-born John Barnes and emerging talent Wilfried Zaha, Januzaj's United teammate, who was born in Ivory Coast.
In addition, England have also turned to foreigners to coach the national team, including Sven-Goran Eriksson of Sweden and Fabio Capello of Italy.
FA chairman Greg Dyke distanced himself from Wilshere's assertion.
“The idea that someone who is not born in this country can never play here [for England] I think is not real, but how long should they be here?'' Dyke said on the sidelines of the Leaders in Football conference in London.
Dyke's predecessor, David Bernstein, said the issue is becoming more blurred.
“We live in a changing world where there is much more fluidity in terms of population movements,'' Bernstein, who left the FA in July, told the BBC. ``I'd say we must play within the rules obviously, but if within the rules there are players who are eligible to play for England I would be inclined to pick the best players we can get. Other countries do that and we want to be on a level playing field doing that.''