Millions of people around the globe have more than one nationality for one reason or another, and footballers are of course no different.
There have been many an occasion when a player has played his youth football for one country before opting for another when making the step up to the senior side, even some brothers play for different international sides, but occasionally, some manage to play senior international football before switching allegiances.
With England having called up Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori to nail down their respective international futures, We take a look at six of the best players to switch international allegiances:
Alfredo Di Stefano
Argentina, Colombia and Spain
One of the all-time greats, the iconic Real Madrid forward enjoyed a remarkable career, made even more remarkable by the fact that he represented three separate countries at international level.
Born in Buenos Aires, Di Stefano would enjoy his first taste of international football with his birth country, scoring six times in six appearances for Argentina in the 1940’s.
#AlfredoDiStéfano played for tree different countries. He played 6 matches for #Argentina. During the Dimayor period of the Colombian football, he played four games for #Colombia.
For #Spain Di Stéfano played 31 games. pic.twitter.com/Q0eQiQkPmZ
— OldFootballPhotos (@OldFootball11) October 4, 2019
Bizarrely, whilst playing for Colombian club side Millonarios, the forward was allowed to represent Colombia, though their national team was not recognised by FIFA as the country’s league had broken transfer rules.
Having moved to Real Madrid, where he would win five consecutive European Cups, Di Stefano would acquire Spanish citizenship and represent his third international side. He would score 23 times in 31 appearances during a five-year career with the Spain national team, though sadly never featured in a World Cup for any of his three nations.
Brazil and Italy
The midfield enforcer has picked up an extensive collection of silverware during his spells at some of Europe’s leading clubs, including winning titles at Barcelona, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain.
Born in Brazil, Motta would represent his birth country at the 2003 CONCACAF Games, making two appearances in the famed yellow shirts.
? | HAPPY BIRTHDAY
?️ “To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is, you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived.” – Richard Bach ?️
— Inter (@Inter_en) August 28, 2019
Having been subsequently ignored by the Selecao, Motta – playing in Serie A at the time – made himself open to a call-up to the Italian national squad.
Motta was eligible thanks to his Italian paternal grandfather and was subsequently called up for the first time in 2011. The midfielder would go on to enjoy a five-year career with the Azzurri, making 30 appearances and scoring one goal, whilst he would also feature in three major tournaments.
Brazil and Spain
Another Brazilian-born player to switch his allegiance to a European rival, former Chelsea striker Costa was twice-capped for his home nation in friendlies against Italy and Russia.
However, just six months after representing Brazil for the first time, Costa submitted a request to represent Spain, where had just received citizenship. The request was approved – much to the dismay of Brazil boss Luis Felipe Scolari – and Costa would make his debut for his adopted nation against Italy in February 2014.
Since then the fiery forward has featured regularly within the Spanish set-up, featuring in two World Cups and scoring 10 goals in 24 appearances.
Diego Costa really shunned his father's land to wear the shirt of the Spanish. But now he's scored two goals against Brazil's colonizers, so I guess this was the long road to revenge.
— Zito (@_Zeets) June 15, 2018
See also: Football’s Ultimate Sh*thouse XI
Morocco and Belgium
Part of Belgium’s talented and multi-cultural squad, former Tottenham and West Brom star Nacer Chadli originally opted to play for Morocco, with the midfielder owning dual citizenship for both birth-country Belgium and the African nation.
He made his debut for Morocco in a 1-1 friendly draw with Northern Ireland in 2010, being named Man of the Match following an impressive performance.
— Faisal HQ (@iF2is) October 10, 2019
That would prove to be the one and only appearance he would make for the country of his heritage, opting to represent Belgium the following year.
A regular member of one of Europe’s finest international teams in the years since, Chadli has now represented the Red Devils 57 times, scoring seven goals and featuring in the side which made the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
England and Ivory Coast
Born in the Ivory Coast before moving to England aged four, Crystal Palace star Zaha was a regular in the Three Lions youth teams as he emerged as a promising talent at Selhurst Park.
Called up to the senior England side for the first time in 2012, Zaha made his debut in a friendly with Sweden, a game more memorable for Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s four-goal destruction of Roy Hodgson’s side.
Replacing fellow debutant Raheem Sterling, the two winger’s international careers would soon go in much differing directions, with Sterling going on to become a regular in the international side, while Zaha would make one more appearance against Scotland before being constantly overlooked in the years following his debut – a period coinciding with his failed move to Manchester United.
Wilfried Zaha just received a ‘Best of Africa’ award for his work helping charities and schools in the Ivory Coast.
— VERSUS (@vsrsus) October 8, 2019
Zaha would eventually opt to represent the country of his parents and of his birth, being called up to the Ivory Coast squad for the first time in 2017. He has since gone on to represent his birth country in two African Cup of Nations tournaments, with Palace boss and ex-England coach Hodgson admitting it was a mistake not to cap the player in a competitive fixture for England.
Republic of Ireland and England
With grandparents hailing from Cork, the London-born midfielder was a regular within the Irish youth set-up, representing The Boys in Green from U16 all the way to the senior side.
Capped three times in friendly fixtures in 2018, Rice later decided to consider his international future following an approach from England.
"You can't stop messages these days, I still get them now"
England midfielder Declan Rice opens up on the backlash he has received since linking up with the Three Lions over Ireland pic.twitter.com/9xCq6xFSU9
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 11, 2019
After several months of considerations over his future, Rice eventually informed Ireland of his desire to represent England, with FIFA confirming the move in March 2019.
He would quickly make his debut for Gareth Southgate’s emerging side against Czech Republic at Wembley, and has since gone on to establish himself in the side earning five senior caps.