Almunia for the England national team?

England are certainly short of goalkeepers at the moment and the new head coach Fabio Capello is desperate to resurrect the problem. And so are the England supporters. Yet who can Capello trust with a pair of hands at the moment? There is hardly any (rather no) English goalkeeper at the moment who can be credited with coming anywhere near the world class status.

No wonder that there are whispers of reports suggesting that England might just turn to do what other European nations often do, that is, play foreigners legally garbed as nationals. Sky Sports has reported that the Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is seriously considering his international future and is heavily inclined to play in a England shirt in a bid to play in the 2010 World Cup.

Almunia has developed into one of the most reliable custodians in the English Premier League and has been in England for four years. He is set to get British citizenship at the end of the year and speculation is gradually multiplying on him trading Spain for England as far as a footballing career is involved.

The player himself has refused to say anything concrete but has given glimpses of what he plans to do in the future. He told the Madrid-based AS:

There’s a lot lacking for this to happen You need to have been here five years, and I’ve spent four here. I will think about it if it happens. They’ve said that I have publicly commented that I was going to start the process of becoming an England national, but I never said anything about that and neither have I announced anything to the Italian media. [The media] talk about me being called up a lot because England didn’t reach the European Championships, but I haven’t heard anything. I would prefer to hear the Spanish anthem than the England one. But it’s also true that the time of patriotism and really feeling a national anthem has somewhat gone out of fashion. It matters more what you owe a country or the people of that country. I owe everything to Spain on a personal level but professionally I can’t put a price on what has happened to me in England. Moreover, there is little possibility of playing for Spain. So although I would love to put on the Spanish shirt, I feel the same about playing in the World Cup.

Well, this is another instance when a player is caught between his heart and his ambition. Patriots and traditionalists would like Almunia to stick to Spain and fight for a place in the national side but those with a penchant for opportunities would certainly propel him to don on the England shirt. But would Almunia be morally and ethically doing the right thing by shunning Spain and embracing England?

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