Ahead of England’s upcoming friendly with the Republic of Ireland, Three Lions captain Wayne Rooney has got involved in the international row surrounding Aston Villa starlet Jack Grealish, by suggesting the youngster should choose to play for his country of birth.
The 19-year-old has previously played at various youth levels for the Republic of Ireland, despite being born in Solihull. However, The Sun report that the winger has already held discussions with members of the FA – including Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate – about switching allegiances.
And Rooney explained that he does not agree with the rule that allows footballers to play for any other country than the one of his birth, and has previously rejected advances to turn out for the Republic of Ireland, The Sun report.
“When I was at Everton, Lee Carsley asked me but I’ve never thought about playing for Ireland. I was born in England, I’m English,” he stated.
“I’m a firm believer you should play for the country you were born in but rules are rules,” he added.
But, this is not a new practice. The Daily Mirror have also reported in the build-up to today’s contest that former Ireland boss Jack Charlton was interested in getting former England star Paul Gascoigne to play for him rather than the country of his birth just a couple of years before his famous performances at Italia 90. However, the midfield maestro seemed to forget his Irish heritage.
“Before he played for England or the Under-21s, I was talking to him at a game one day and said, ‘Are you sure the Gascoigne family hasn’t got a bit of Irish to it?’ And Gazza said, ‘Nah, we’re 100 per cent Geordie in my family’,” Charlton explained.
“I think he played for England the following week, and I didn’t really think any more of it until Carol told me Gazza’s grandmother on her side was Irish, and he did qualify for us.
“And I do wonder what would have happened if we’d got him,” the World Cup winner suggested.
Get upto £200 in free matched bets with bet365 - Click here to find out more