Best XI of stars who changed nationality including Jack Grealish and Wilfried Zaha
WHILE many players dream of playing for their country, some make a change to boost their international chances by switching allegiances.
England have two matches in their Euro qualifying campaign against Malta and North Macedonia in June.
GettyFolarin Balogun recently switched allegiance to the USA from England[/caption]
GettyWilfried Zaha opted to play for the Ivory Coast over England[/caption]
The best XI of players to swap nationalities during their career, includes some superstar names
The Three Lions currently top Group C with two wins from two, including victories over Italy and Ukraine.
However, not every player involved has always represented the same country on the international stage – including England’s very own Jack Grealish.
He is not the only one to have switched allegiance, in fact, some of the greatest players on the planet – past and present have done the same.
Former prospect Folarin Balogun has recently switched his allegiance away from England, however as he will now represent the USA.
Players can swap nations if they are under the age of 21 and have featured in no more than three competitive games.
The rules haven’t always been so strict though, with many big-name players switching allegiances down the years.
We take a look at the best XI of nation-swappers with an outrageously attacking line up.
But we reckon that it could match up against some of the best international teams of all-time.
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And we start in goal with a stopper that Premier League fans know well:
GOALKEEPER – Asmir Begovic
ReutersAsmir Begovic swapped Canada for Bosnia & Herzegovina despite growing up in North America[/caption]
Born in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Begovic and his family moved to Canada when he was ten years old.
The Everton goalkeeper played 11 times for Canada’s Under-20s and looked set to break into their senior side.
But in 2009, Begovic opted to play for the country of his birth – and has earned 63 cap since.
DEFENDER – Victor Moses
GettyVictor Moses switched allegiance to Nigeria after failing to break into the England senior side[/caption]
Born in Nigeria and raised in London, Moses played for England‘s Under-162, U17s, U19s and U21s.
But he gave up on a spot in the senior side and switched to the nation of his birth in 2012, where he has won 38 caps.
And he helped them to African Cup of Nations glory in 2013.
DEFENDER – Neven Subotic
Action Images – ReutersNeven Subotic was eligible to play for Bosnia & Herzegovina, USA or Serbia – but opted for the latter[/caption]
Subotic was born in Bosnia & Herzegovina (then Yugoslavia) but grew up in the USA, playing for their Under-17s and U20s.
In 2008, he opted to play for Serbia – for whom he qualified through Bosnian-Serb parents – and played 36 times.
DEFENDER – Declan Rice
Sportsfile – SubscriptionDeclan Rice won three caps for Ireland before swapping to England, where he is now a regular starter[/caption]
Rice famously won three caps for Ireland in 2018 having worked his way through the youth teams thanks to his grandparents being Irish.
But he controversially switched to England the next year.
The London-born star proved where his heart lies by playing a key role in last year’s run to the final of Euro 2020.
And he has continued to impress, becoming one of the team’s most important players in the midfield.
The West Ham ace was tipped for a move into central defence if he had joined Chelsea when Frank Lampard was manager.
CENTRE-MID – Thiago Motta
ReutersThiago Motta turned his back on Brazil to turn out for Italy[/caption]
The former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain star was born in Brazil but qualified for Italy thanks to the grandfather on his father’s side.
After playing twice for Brazil in the 2003 Gold Cup, Motta later switched allegiance to play for Italy EIGHT years later.
Motta won 30 caps for Italy and was part of their 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 squads.
RIGHT-WING – Wilfried Zaha
Getty Images – GettyWilfried Zaha played for England’s senior side in a friendly against Sweden but never made a competitive appearance and opted to play for Ivory Coast[/caption]
After working his way through England’s Under-17s and U20s teams, Zaha made his full England debut in a friendly against Sweden in 2012, replacing fellow debutant Raheem Sterling.
But after dropping down the pecking order, Zaha switched to turn out for Ivory Coast at the 2017 African Cup of Nations, earning 31 caps to date.
Ex-Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson later admitted he regretted not playing the winger in a competitive game to tie him to England, despite giving him his debut vs Sweden.
ATTACKING-MIDFIELD – Michel Platini
Getty – ContributorFrance legend Michel Platini played once for Kuwait following his retirement[/caption]
Having scored 41 times in 72 games for France, helping them win the 1984 Euros, Platini hung up his boots in 1987.
But he came out of retirement to bizarrely play for Kuwait in a friendly against the Soviet Union in 1988, playing 21 minutes of the 2-0 defeat.
LEFT-WING – Jack Grealish
CorbisJack Grealish worked his way through Ireland’s youth ranks before bursting into the England set up[/caption]
Born in Birmingham, Grealish worked his way through the Irish youth teams thanks to his paternal grandparents and maternal grandfather coming from Ireland.
Despite playing six times for Ireland’s Under-21s, England poached him at the same level before the former Aston Villa captain made himself a crucial part of the Three Lions’ senior squad.
Now starring for Man City, Grealish will likely be involved for England in the upcoming fixtures.
FORWARD – Alfredo Di Stefano
Getty – ContributorAlfredo Di Stefano represented three nations during his illustrious playing career[/caption]
Incredibly, the legendary Real Madrid striker player for Argentina, Colombia AND Spain during his illustrious career.
Di Stefano was born in Argentina and won six caps for them, before switching to Colombia and winning a further four caps.
Eight years later – and ten years after his final Argentina game – he won his first Spain cap and scored 23 times in 31 games.
FORWARD – Diego Costa
Getty Images – GettyDiego Costa won two caps for Brazil before turning his back on them and representing Spain[/caption]
In 2013, during his second stint at Atletico Madrid, Costa earned two caps for his native Brazil.
But he immediately applied for Spanish citizenship and after it was approved in 2014 he went straight into the first-team.
Costa played for Spain at two World Cups scoring ten goals in 24 games in total.
FORWARD – Ferenc Puskas
PA:Press AssociationFerenc Puskas scored nearly a goal a game for Hungary in 85 caps before switching to Spain[/caption]
The former Real Madrid scoring machine has the Best Goal of the Year award named after.
He scored 84 times in 85 games for Hungary between 1945 and 1956.
But Puskas switched to Spain in 1961 in the middle of his time at Los Blancos, but failed to score in four caps.