Wilshere: England for English

2013-10-09 12:23
Jack Wilshere (AFP)

London - England midfielder Jack Wilshere has insisted only English players should represent the national side.

The Arsenal star's comments came as it emerged the national governing Football Association had looked into the eligibility of talented Manchester United forward Adnan Januzaj to play for England.

Belgium-born winger Januzaj can play for the country of his birth, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia and Turkey and the 18-year-old could represent England in 2018 on residency grounds if he remains in the country for the next five years.

However, Wilshere said: "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.

"If I went to Spain and lived there for five years I am not going to play for Spain," he added ahead of England's key World Cup qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley on Friday.

Januzaj's youth means he is a far more enticing option than Spanish-born Mikel Arteta and native Italian goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, both of whom have been linked with playing for England following lengthy stints in the Premier League.

But Wilshere said having foreign-born players in the team risked diluting the essential character of the side.

"We have to remember what we are. We are English. We tackle hard, are tough on the pitch and are hard to beat.

"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."

Wilshere hit the headlines last week after being pictured with a cigarette in huis hand following an Arsenal night out.

At first he said he was just holding it, before admitting he had been smoking and apologising to Gunners manager Arsene Wenger.

However, that hasn't stopped him being the target of dressing-room banter.

"It is non-stop," said Wilshere.

"After the game on Sunday the physio, Colin Lewin, said 'you smoked that shot'. When I am getting angry in training they say 'calm down, have a fag'.

"We move on eventually but everyone is going to make a joke of it and that's fine."

Even Arsenal fans have had a joke at Wilshere's expense, chanting 'he smokes when he wants' during Sunday's draw at West Brom.

"I would prefer them to change it to 'he scores when he wants'," said Wilshere.

"I am not a smoker," he said. "I don't smoke 10 a day as some have been saying. "It was a mistake. I am not just a footballer. I am a top athlete."

Read more on:    england  |  jack wilshere  |  soccer

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