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Joe Strange - Arteta could have been an England legend

Published: 02 Sep 2010 - 12:20:33

After months of speculation surrounding Mikel Arteta's international future, FIFA last night revealed that the Spaniard is in fact ineligible to play for England.

It was said that Arteta was eligible for a call up as he now qualifies for British citizenship and has never played for his country at senior level.

The reality is that little known FIFA Article 18.1.a states that any player who has represented their country in an official competition, at whatever level, would at that time need to have held a passport for the country they later wished to play for to be permitted to make the switch.

As Mikel represented Spain at under-16 and under-17 level without holding a British passport, any plans for him to link up with Fabio Capello have been ended prematurely.

Surprisingly the FA felt it necessary to make their own statement, confirming FIFA's rule and making direct reference to the Everton player.

Capello had refused to comment on the prospect of recruiting the former Barcelona youngster, but the FA's statement tells its own story. Fabio definitely wanted Arteta.

For the football purists and those of a particularly patriotic nature, the news of Arteta's exclusion will come as a huge relief. But for those of us who appreciate the magnitude of England's current problems, the omission of the mercurial midfielder is yet another bitter pill to swallow.

England aren't in a position to be picky when it comes to achieving success. We don't have hoards of talented youngsters knocking down Capello's door, and the players in and around the current squad showed they weren't up to the job in South Africa.

While integrating under-21 stars like Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere is a great idea on paper, it's probably not advisable when you have a series of must win Euro 2012 qualifiers just around the corner.

The inclusion of Arteta would've been a stroke of genius had Capello managed to pull it off. Instead of inexperienced youngsters with barely a Premier League appearance to their name, England would've been lucky enough to have one of the top-flight's best fall into their lap.

Mikel has thrived at Everton over the past five-and-a-half seaons. Able to play out wide or through the middle, his creativity, passing and vision would've added a new dimension to England's play, while his presence in the squad could well have bred a more competitive element within the underperforming midfield.

Had Mikel been given the chance to wear the Three Lions then there would've been uproar among some of the England faithful. But you can be sure there will be plenty worse if Capello's men continue to struggle as they have been recently.

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:joe strange
A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.

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