Champions LeagueFeature

5 Footballers who were born in one country and played for another

The habit of professional footballers switching nationalities to play for an extra country isn’t new.
Many professional footballers who were born in one country and played for another. FIFA’s rules concerning switching allegiances aren’t forthright, but Article 8 of their regulations has all the relevant information.


It states: “Only players who have: more than one nationality; acquired a new nationality; or are eligible to represent more than one association due to their nationality can change national team.”

1. Jorginho (Brazil)

Jorginho was born in Brazil. He moved to Italy at the age of 15, and started his professional career with the Verona youth team, before being promoted to the senior team. He was sent on loan to Sambonifacese within the 2010-11 season. In January 2014, he moved to Napoli, where he soon after won the Supercoppa Italiana and also the Copa Italia. He moves to Chelsea in 2018(a £50 million move), where he won the UEFA Europa League in his first season.


Jorginho had chosen to represent Brazil on the international stage, after being born in the coastal town of Imbituba. Holding both Italian and Brazilian citizenships, the choice was his to make, eventually choosing Italy in 2014. His composure on the ball and skill to dictate the rhythm of a match are commendable.

2. Thiago Alcantara (Italy)

Thiago was born in southeast Italy. His Brazilian father Mazinho (who represented the Seleção) played for Lecce at the time. Things could have been very different for Bayern Munich’s Spanish genius. He moved from Italy to Brazil to Spain, owing to his trade, before his breakthrough with Barcelona.

Multi-talented, and apparently multi-national, Thiago made the choice to represent La Roja, whom he’s still an integral player for today. In Germany, Thiago won 16 trophies(including the Bundesliga seven times back to back , the UEFA Champions League). He signed for Liverpool with a transfer worth an initial £20 million. He made his full international debut in 2011, after helping Spain to win the European Championships at under-21 and under-19 levels. After being unable to play for the 2014 World Cup because of his knee injury, Thiago was selected for UEFA Euro and 2018 FIFA tournament.


3. Miroslav Klose (Poland)

A reputation forever etched into World Cup folklore for scoring the most number of goals within the history of the competition, Klose’s story might have been significantly different if he had represented his birth nation, Poland. Instead, the striker rooted for Germany after moving to the country at the age of eight. Like many of the players featured during this list, they were glad he did, as not only did he score 16 goals in four World Cups for Die Mannschaft, he also remains the country’s top goal-scorer with 71 goals (even after he retired in 2016). Klose is legendary for his performances with the German national team.

He was a part of the squad that won the 2014 FIFA tournament, having formerly finished second (2002) and third (2006, 2010), as runner-up at UEFA Euro (2008). Klose is that the men’s top goal-scorer of the FIFA World Cup with 16 goals. He won the Golden Boot at the 2006 tourney in Germany by again scoring five times. He also scored fourfold within the 2010 World Cup and twice at the 2014 tournament, overtaking Ronaldo’s then-record of 15 goals to top the all-time list.

4. Diego Costa (Brazil)

Costa commenced his football career in Brazil before joining Braga in Portugal in 2006, aged 17. He never played for the club and signed with Atlético Madrid the next year. In the following two seasons, he had loan periods with Braga, Albacete and Celta Vigo.


His form got him a move to fellow La Liga club Real Valladolid in 2009, where he spent one season, concluding as their top goal-scorer, before returning to Atlético Madrid.

Costa holds dual citizenship of both Brazil and Spain. He appeared twice for Brazil in 2013, before declaring his request to represent Spain. In March 2014, he made his debut for Spain, and has since won 24 caps and scored 10 goals, and has represented them at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups Diego.

5. Raheem Sterling (Jamaica)

Born in Jamaica, Sterling shifted to London at the age of 5 and began his career at Queens Park Rangers prior to signing for Liverpool in 2010. Manchester City signed him in July 2015.


The transfer potentially was worth £49 million, the most expensive transfer fee for an English player at the time. He then went on to assist Manchester City win continuous Premier League titles in the 2017–18 and 2018–19 seasons. He won the FWA Footballer of the Year and the PFA Young Player of the Year in the 2018-19 season. The Manchester City forward has frequently expressed his pride in his Jamaican roots.


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