10 players to switch international allegiance as Evan Ferguson makes England decision

Gareth Southgate has admitted that he tried to tempt Brighton’s Evan Ferguson to represent England, and though they were unsuccessful on that occasion, they have had more luck elsewhere

Ahead of England ’s showdown with Scotland on Tuesday evening at Hampden Park, the question of international allegiance has cropped up yet again.

A number of reports have suggested that a number of stars are considering their future with the Three Lions. Newcastle star Harvey Barnes could be set to switch his international allegiance to Scotland, whilst teammate Elliott Anderson could go the opposite way.

Brighton wonderkid Evan Ferguson is also eligible to represent England, but has already rejected the prospect of a Three Lions cap in favour of the Republic of Ireland. That got us all at Mirror Football thinking about previous players to make transfers between nations so take a look at some of the standout names over the past few years:

Declan Rice (Ireland to England)
One of the more infamous examples, Arsenal star Declan Rice represented the Republic of Ireland from under-16 all the way up to senior level. He was eligible for the Ireland national side due to his grandparents being from Cork.

Rice even made three appearances for the Boys in Green. In February 2019, he controversially declared his allegiance to England and has since gone on to become a key player for Gareth Southgate.

The midfielder now has 44 England caps to his name and has scored three goals. He also became the first player since Jack Reynolds in the 1890s to play for both Ireland and England.

Jack Grealish (Ireland to England)
Another player who bid farewell to the Irish national team , Grealish made the same decision as Rice. Like the Arsenal man, he progressed through the age groups as he made 19 outings between the ages of under-17s and under-21s.

Despite being named as the under-21 player of the year in March 2015, the then Aston Villa forward reportedly turned down a senior Irish call-up. Just a few months later, he declared for the Three Lions.

Like Rice, Grealish has gone on to become a key player for the Three Lions. He has already accumulated 32 appearances for England, scoring twice.

Wilfried Zaha (England to Ivory Coast)
Whilst England have nicked a number of stars from themselves, they have also been stung in recent years. Former Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha was another to have been handed his senior international debut only to subsequently switch allegiances.

He was given his Three Lions’ bow in a 4-2 defeat against Sweden back in 2012 – the game that Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored that overhead kick. Zaha also appeared as a substitute against Scotland a few months later.

Following a bitter war of words between Gareth Southgate and the winger’s agent, he eventually went on to declare for African nation, the Ivory Coast, in 2016. Zaha has 33 caps to his name since then and has scored five times on the international stage.

Demarai Gray (England to Jamaica)
It’s been a period of upheaval for Premier League winner Demarai Gray over the past few seasons. Like a number of his colleagues, the ex-Leicester and Everton man played a key role for the England youth teams.

He started his international career in the under-18s, before going on to accumulate 26 caps for the under-21s. It looked like he was edging close to a full senior debut in September 2018 after Gray was handed his first call-up for a friendly against Switzerland.

Gray eventually acquired his Jamaican passport to represent the Reggae Boyz and now has six caps to his name having scored three goals. He was also named in the Best XI for this summer’s Gold Cup in Canada and the United States.

Tariq Lamptey (England to Ghana)
With eligibility for both England and Ghana, former Chelsea starlet Lamptey was another to have worked his way up through the Three Lions’ youth system. He was contacted by the Ghana Football Association about switching his allegiance in July 2020.

Lamptey still represented the England under-21s before injury cruelly cut short his development. With a lot of right-back competition, the defender eventually went on to make his Ghana debut in 2022. He was also named in the nation’s squad for last year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Victor Moses (England to Nigeria)
One that might actually surprise, Moses was another to move through the England youth set-up despite being born in Kaduna, Nigeria. He was top scorer for the Three Lions’ under-17 side at the World Cup in South Korea.

Moses continued to represent England all the way up to under-21 level. However, it wasn’t long until he decided to switch.

He was eventually cleared to play for Nigeria in November 2011. The former Chelsea man played at two World Cups for the Super Eagles before calling time on his international career in 2018 with 37 caps and 12 goals to his name.

Alex Iwobi (England to Nigeria)
From one Nigerian winger to another now, the former Everton man earned 11 caps for the Three Lions at underage level but went on to declare for the Super Eagles in 2015.

He has actually gone on to surpass Moses’ cap total for Nigeria. Iwobi has played 64 games for his nation since his debut. The new Fulham signing has also played at the African Cup of Nations and the 2018 World Cup.

Folarin Balogun (England to USA)
One of the more recent examples, there was an international tug of war between England and the USA for the allegiance of ex-Arsenal man Balogun. The striker was fresh off the back of a clinical season in France with Reims.

During his youth career, the young forward bounced between England and the US, whilst he also stated that he would be open to representing Nigeria. Following talks with the USMNT, Balogun eventually declared his allegiance this summer.

He has earned three caps since then and even got off the mark with a goal in this summer’s CONCACAF Nations League final against Canada.

Michail Antonio (England to Jamaica)
A West Ham great, Michail Antonio has been on the verge of breaking through into the England side on a number of occasions. He was called up to Sam Allardyce ’s ill-fated first Three Lions’ squad but never made his debut.

Gareth Southgate also turned to the forward in March 2018 but he was forced to pull out due to injury. Having failed to make a competitive appearance for the Three Lions, Jamaica then swooped to secure his international allegiance.

Antonio now has 12 caps and three goals to his name for the Reggae Boyz but was not included in their most recent squad.

Karamoko Dembele (Scotland to England)
A wonderkid during his time with Celtic, the now 20-year-old was at the centre of a huge tug of war between England and Scotland, whilst he also has eligibility for the Ivory Coast. During his youth career, he has bounced between the Young Lions and Scotland, with his most recent international opportunity coming for the England under-18s back in 2021.

Since then, Dembele has endured a tricky time of things after leaving Celtic on a free transfer to join Brest. He joined Blackpool on a season-long loan this summer so it will be interesting to note where his international allegiance lies should he get back on track.

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