Top 15 England Internationals Who Could've Played For Other Nations

The English national team has a long, illustrious history that stretches back to 1872 when they were held to a 0-0 draw with Scotland in what is recognized as the first ever international match.

Since that first international held in Scotland 143 years ago, there have been many ups and downs for the team - the World Cup triumph in 1966 when the team were led by the legendary defender Bobby Moore is without doubt the proudest moment for the nation which, with hindsight, was a little fortunate after getting a little help from the officials.

In recent years the team has struggled to live up to the demands of the expecting English public and famously failed to qualify for the USA 1994 World Cup when England finished third in their qualifying group behind Norway and the Netherlands.

In fact, the team has only once been past the Quarter-Final stage of of any major tournament since 1966, when they lost to the Germans in a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out.

The cap that was given to Jamie Vardy against the Republic of Ireland in the June of this year has meant that a total of 1,209 players have now represented The Three Lions at the full international level.

Of those 1209, most were only ever eligible to play for England, but we have compiled a list of those who could have played for other countries ahead of  The Three Lions.

15 Danny Welbeck (Ghana) 

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former Manchester United and current Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck could have been a Ghana international before being awarded his debut in a 1–1 draw versus the African nation in March 2011.

The striker was born to Ghanaian parents in Longsight, Manchester and was actively pursued by the Ghanaian Football Association before pledging his alliance to England. The young striker rejected a personal invitation in 2011 from Kwesi Appiah, who later become the national coach of the Black Stars.

Welbeck has represented England at every level from the Under-17s and has now become a regular fixture in Roy Hodgson's starting line-up.

14 Daniel Sturridge (Jamaica) 

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Although born in Birmingham, Daniel Sturridge could have been playing international football for the tiny Caribbean island of Jamaica due to his parent's heritage.

A product of the Manchester City academy, Sturridge has gone on to represent Chelsea and Bolton before ending up in Merseyside with Liverpool in January 2013.

Sturridge formed a formidable partnership with Uruguayan Luis Suárez, with Liverpool narrowly missing out on their first league title in over 20 years after scoring more than 100 goals in the 2013-14 season.

13 James F. M. Prinsep (India)


Born in India, to an Anglo-Indian merchant, James Prinsep represented England just once against Scotland in 1879, at the age of 17 years and 252 days, becoming the youngest ever representative in the process.

It was a record that stood for almost 124 years, until future England captain Wayne Rooney made his debut against Australia at the age of 17 years and 111 days on February 12th, 2003.

During his career he also played in the early incarnations of the English F.A. Cup. winning it on one occasion with Old Carthusians in 1881 after a 3-0 hammering of Old Etonians.

12 Harry Kane (Republic of Ireland) 

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The Tottenham Hotspur striker qualified for the Republic of Ireland through his father who was born in the Galway but chose to represent the country of his birth after a fine start to the 2014-15 Premier League season.

After spending a lot of time out on loan in the second and third tiers of English football, Kane's breakthrough for Spurs came in the 2014–15 season when he scored over 30 goals in all competitions, making him the first player to do so for Spurs since England legend Gary Lineker in the 1991–92 season.

11 Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)


Wilfried Zaha was born in the Ivory Coast but moved to London as a four year old with his family. The player was raised in the London Borough of Croydon and started playing for the Crystal Palace academy at 12 years old.

Wilfried Zaha picked up his two England caps in 2012 after a promising start to his career with Palace before his ill-fated £15m move to Manchester United. That form enabled Zaha to make his international debut during England's 4-2 defeat by Sweden when Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored all four goals including an incredible overhead kick from 30 yards.

10 Owen Hargreaves (Canada/Wales/Germany)

Owen Hargreaves had never even lived in England until his transfer from Bayern Munich to Manchester United in the summer of 2007, but yet picked up his first international cap against the Netherlands in August 2001.

Hargreaves was born in Calgary, Canada to a Welsh mother and an English father which meant that his was eligible to play international for the three countries. The player represented Wales at the youth level and was also in the Wales Under-21 team for a game versus Belarus Under-21 in September 2000 before pulling-out after an England approach.

Sadly for the midfielder, injuries blighted his Manchester United career meaning he only made 27 league appearances during his four year stay at Old Trafford. Those injuries ultimately ended his career shortly after signing which city rivals Manchester City.

9 Bill Perry (South Africa) 

Bill Perry was a winger who spent thirteen seasons at Blackpool during the 1950s and 1960s after signing from South African team Johannesburg Rangers.

After signing as a 19-year-old, Perry went on to have a prolific career for a winger, scoring 119 in 394 appearances for Blackpool including an F.A. Cup winner in the 1953 final against Bolton Wanderers. Although Blackpool were 1–3 down at one stage, a dramatic comeback took place with Perry scoring an injury time winner to secure the Cup.

8 Tony Dorigo (Australia/Italy) 


Australian-born Tony Dorigo had a fine career in England's top flight most notably with Aston Villa, Chelsea and Leeds United where he won the First Division in 1991–92 alongside Eric Cantona.

The Australian-Italian arrived in England in 1983 for trials and subsequently joined Aston Villa where he began to make a name for himself.

7 Ross Barkley (Nigeria) 

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A product of Everton's academy, the Wavertree-born Liverpudlian has shown himself to be one of England's brightest talents after making his debut against Moldova in a World Cup qualifier in 2013. The 21-year-old has represented England at Under-16, Under-17, Under-19, Under-20, Under-21 and senior level after choosing to represent his country of birth.

At the same time, Ross Barkley qualifies for the Nigerian team through his paternal grandfather who is from the West African country located on the Gulf of Guinea.

6 Cyrille Regis (French Guiana/France) 


The striker was born in Maripasoula, French Guiana and so he was eligible to play for France, French Guiana and England after moving to the latter as a young child.

Regis made his name in non-league football with Molesey and Hayes before being signed by West Bromwich Albion in May 1977.

5 Terry Butcher (Singapore) 


Terry Butcher was the captain of the England national team, winning 77 caps over a decade while featuring at three World Cups. However, having been born in Singapore, he was eligible to play for the island city-state off southern Malaysia.

The centre-back had a highly successful career as a player picking up trophies with both Ipswich Town and Glasgow Rangers when he moved north of the border.

Butcher made his England debut in a friendly against Australia on 31 May 1980, however the way most fans remember him is for his blood stained shirt in a vital World Cup qualifier against Sweden. Butcher suffered a deep cut to his forehead when going for a header but played on after receiving seven stitches from the physio.

4 Phil Jagielka (Poland/Scotland) 

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Jagielka had the opportunity to represent three countries - England having been born and raised in Manchester and Poland and Scotland via his grandparents.

The Everton club captain started his career at Sheffield United where he spent eight years before transferring to his current club. David Moyes made him captain for the 2013–14 season after the retirement of Phil Neville and he's gone on to make over 300 appearances for the club.

3 Raheem Sterling (Jamaica) 

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When Raheem Sterling joined Manchester City in a huge transfer, he became England's most expensive player ever. However, the talented attacker was actually born and raised in Jamaica until the age of seven.

Upon moving to London with his mother, the youngster started playing football and joined the Queens Park Rangers academy before joining Rafael Benítez's Liverpool for an initial fee of £600,000 in 2010.

Sterling broke into the Liverpool first team as a 17-year-old and became a regular fixture in the team under current manager Brendan Rogers until he forced through a transfer to Manchester City at the start of this season.

2 John Barnes (Jamaica/Trinidad & Tobago) 


John Barnes is one of England's finest midfielder of all time, after a long and distinguished career spanning almost two decades. The midfielder made his name with Watford and later Liverpool before retiring from the game while at Charlton Athletic.

The midfielder played a total of 79 appearances for England, scoring 11 goals after his debut in 1983 against Northern Ireland at a time when black footballers were rarely given a chance in full England colours.

His most memorable moment in an England shirt came in June 1984 against Brazil at the Maracanã where he seemed to dribble past the entire team including the goalkeeper to put England 1-0 up.

1 Wayne Rooney (Republic of Ireland) 

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Wayne Rooney made his England as a 17 year-old in the 0-0 friendly against Australia in February 2003 becoming the nations youngest ever player, taking James Prinsep's record.

However, it could have been very different for England's record goalscorer.

Instead of breaking Bobby Charlton's 45-year record of 49 goals for England, Rooney could have played for the Republic of Ireland, due to having two paternal grandparents from the country just across the Irish Sea.

Rooney rejected an approach from the Football Association of Ireland when he was a 16-year-old playing for Everton stating that "I have Irish grandparents, so if they wanted to play for Ireland I'm sure they could have, but it was never something I thought about. I was born in England, I'm English."

It was a profitable decision for the England national team as Rooney has gone on to be the first Englishman to score 50 international goals, which took place when he scored an 84th minute penalty in their 2-0 win in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland this September.

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Top 15 England Internationals Who Could've Played For Other Nations