It is quite common for football players to switch clubs during the course of their career, but the game of football has also witnessed players switching national teams.
Most players start playing the beautiful game of football with the sole purpose of representing their nation at the biggest stage. However, some players have shifted their loyalties during the course of their careers for various reasons, be it an emotional connection or better opportunities.
It was quite easy for players to switch national teams prior to the 1960s, before FIFA brought in stringent rules. The current rule states that players with dual nationalities retain the option of choosing which nation they want to represent, and can only change their allegiance if they represented their former national side only in unofficial matches.
Here, we take a look at 10 football players who played for multiple national teams.
#1 Alfredo di Stefano
Alfredo di Stefano is regarded as one of the greatest players to have graced the game of football. The Real Madrid legend commenced his international career with Argentina. He made 6 appearances for his native country and scored 6 goals. Amid player strikes and feuds with the Brazil Football Confederation, the Argentine national team was forced to withdraw from FIFA 1950 World Cup qualifiers.
During the brief period when the Argentina national team was out of action, Di Stefano moved to Colombia to play for Millonarios. The Argentine, during this span, played four unofficial matches for the Colombian national team under the name of the combined XI of the Colombian league. This saw FIFA ban Di Stefano form playing national football, as he did not even possess a Colombian passport.
After moving to Spain to ply his trade for Los Blancos, his ban was revoked by FIFA after persistent attempts by the Real Madrid chiefs. Di Stefano, having acquired Spanish citizenship, made 31 appearances for La Roja and scored 23 goals for them.
#2 Ferenc Puskas
Another Real Madrid legend who features on this list is Ferenc Puskas. The Hungarian started his international career with his native country, and forward netted 84 goals for Hungary in 85 appearances. Puskas became an Olympic champion in 1952, and led his nation to the final of the 1954 World Cup where he was named the tournament's best player.
After gaining Spanish citizenship while playing for Real Madrid, Puskas devoted himself to the Spanish national team. Even though he was an integral player for Los Blancos, he failed to replicate his performances for the national side. He just made 4 appearances for La Roja.
#3 Michel Platini
Michel Platini was considered one of the best midfielders of his era. He enjoyed a glittering career, throughout the course of which he won three Ballon d'Ors for his heroics with Juventus and the France national team.
The former UEFA President also featured for two national teams. Platini made 72 appearances for Les Blues and scored 41 times for them. He was also part of the squad that won the UEFA Euros in 1984. After putting a sparkling run with France and Juventus to an end, he featured for Kuwait in a friendly against the Soviet Union.
#4 Diego Costa
One of the most notable players to have played for two nations is Diego Costa. The Atletico Madrid striker made 2 appearances in friendlies for his native country Brazil, before switching his allegiance to Spain.
Feeling neglected by Luis Felipe Scolari, Costa decided to play for La Roja. Upon Costa receiving Spanish citizenship, the Spanish FA made a request to FIFA to allow them to induct the forward to their squad. Following FIFA's approval, Costa has made 24 appearances for the Spanish national team and has scored 10 goals for them.
#5 Thiago Motta
Thiago Motta played for various clubs throughout his career, including the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Genoa, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. The midfielder has played for two national teams as well.
Motta made his debut for Brazil in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup and went on to play 2 games for them in the same competition. Having not been called up by the Selecao for 8 years after the Gold Cup, Motta expressed his desire to play for the Italian national side.
Being a dual citizen, things worked out in his favour as he was called up by La Nazionale for a friendly against Germany in 2011. He then went on to make 30 appearances for the Italian national team and managed to score one goal for them.
#6 Nacer Chadli
Nacer Chadli, being a dual citizen, had the choice to represent either Morocco or Belgium. The former Tottenham decided to play for Morocco and made his international debut for them in a friendly against Northern Ireland in 2010.
But in the following year, Chadli expressed his desire to represent his native country Belgium. Since the midfielder did not play an official game for the Moroccans, he was allowed to switch his allegiance. Following the shift, he has won 59 caps for the Red Devils and has scored 8 goals for them.
#7 Luis Monti
Luis Monti not only represented two different footballing nations, but he also holds the unimaginable achievement of being the only player to have played in a World Cup final with two different national teams.
Monti was a great midfielder who was known for his vision, and enjoyed great spells at San Lorenzo and Juventus, winning 4 Serie A titles with the Bianconeri.
#8 Wilfried Zaha
Wilfried Zaha is one of the current batch of players who has featured for multiple nations. The Crystal Palace star earned a call up to the senior England squad to play a friendly against Sweden in 2012. He went on to make 2 appearances for the Three Lions, but both of them were in unofficial games.
In 2016, Zaha expressed his desire to play for his native country Ivory Coast, which saw him earn a call up to the senior squad. He made his debut for the African team in 2017, and since then, he has made 17 appearances for them. Gareth Southgate tried to persuade the Crystal Palace winger to stay put in England, but he ended up making the decision to play for his homeland.
#9 Declan Rice
Although he was born in London, Declan Rice was eligible to play for Ireland as his grandparents were of Irish descent. The West Ham United midfielder played three matches for Ireland before pledging his allegiance to England.
Before making the decision, Rice met Ireland manager Mick McCarthy and his assistant Robbie Keane, who affirmed that he could be their leader in the future should he choose to stay. Despite that proposition, a strong desire to play for England saw Rice choose the Three Lions over Ireland.
Following his switch in 2019, Rice has made 7 appearances for Gareth Southgate's side.
#10 Jermaine Jones
Jermaine Jones was born in Germany, but with his father being a U.S. Army soldier, he had the choice to play for either country. Jones made 3 appearances for Germany but none of them were in competitive matches. After learning that that Joachim Low did not intend to integrate him into the squad, he declared to the media that he would be available to play for the United States.
Following his switch, the midfielder went on to make 69 appearances for the United States national football team, and even scored 4 goals for them during the course of his career.
Published 01 May 2020, 18:37 IST