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ENGLAND are back in rebuild mode after failing to end 55 years of hurt in the most heartbreaking of ways last summer.
Gareth Southgate’s young stars can hold their heads high after reaching the Euro 2020 final – three years after reaching the 2018 World Cup semis.
There’s a sense of excitement surrounding the current, youthful squad as they prepare for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
For decades, England supporters have been forced to put up with uninspiring, humdrum squads – particularly since the so-called ‘Golden Generation’ called time on their careers.
During those years, a host of big-name, foreign Premier League players were being tipped to swap allegiances and represent England.
Even more recently, some superstars – including Erling Haaland – have been linked with playing for the Three Lions.
Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Giovanni Reyna was the latest player to be rumoured to play for England, having been born in Sunderland during dad Claudio’s spell in the Premier League.
Reyna has now represented the USA nine times to put an end to those rumours.
But he was by no means the first foreign player to be considered by England.
Check out our best XI of those who got away…
GK – Carlo Cudicini
Carlo Cudicini was once in the crosshairs of England during his Chelsea daysCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
THE Italian spent 12 years in England playing for Chelsea and then Tottenham.
In 2003, Cudicini was on the radar of the FA but a Fifa rule-change scuppered their plans.
Cudicini never earned a senior cap for Italy, stuck behind Gianluigi Buffon.
RB – Victor Moses
Victor Moses played for England’s youth teams but never made a senior appearance before choosing NigeriaCredit: Getty – Contributor
BORN in Lagos, Nigeria, Moses spent five years working his way through England’s youth ranks – playing 29 matches in total.
However, the Chelsea man opted for Nigeria in 2012, two years after earning his sole cap for England’s Under-21s.
Moses had initially opted to play for England and saw his Nigeria debut delayed as his application to Fifa to switch nationalities was submitted late.
CB – Wes Morgan
Wes Morgan chose to play for Jamaica in 2013 despite being born and raised in Nottingham
BORN and raised in Nottingham, Morgan spent a decade at Forest before joining Leicester in 2012.
Morgan would have been in contention for a spot in the England team during Leicester’s incredible 2015-16 title success.
But in 2013, the centre-back switched allegiances to Jamaica – for whom he played 30 times until his final game in 2016.
LB – Sylvain Distin
England had hoped to pinch Distin – who never played for France – but saw their plan foiledCredit: Bradley Ormesher – The Times
SNUBBED time and time again by France, the former Manchester City, Portsmouth and Everton star popped up on England’s radar in the 2000s and early 2010s.
Distin played more Premier League games than any other foreign outfield player in history.
But the defender never earned a cap for France – having also failed to feature in any of their youth squads.
England were believed to be interested but saw their plans scuppered by the Home Nations Agreement.
CM – Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta never played for Spain but would have been a shoo-in for England but for eligibility rules scuppering the switchCredit: EPA
THRIVING during his time at Everton, Arteta failed to break into the Spain squad, stuck behind Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas in the pecking order.
That piqued England’s interest under Fabio Capello but a Fifa rule change in 2010 scuppered any plans of calling up the now-Arsenal boss.
The FA believed Arteta to be eligible due to the five-year residency rule, but Fifa rejected the claim.
The player himself threatened to ‘go to war’ but decided against a battle with Fifa.
CM – Scott McTominay
McTominay opted to play for Scotland after a trip from McLeish and some words from FergieCredit: AP
BORN in Lancaster, England, the Man Utd star would go on to reveal he had always wanted to play for Scotland, having Scottish blood on his father’s side.
But before that admission, both England and Scotland were chasing the midfielder.
Alex McLeish battled horrific weather to reach Carrington to speak with McTominay about his allegiance, while Southgate ‘just sent a text’.
That – and a nudge from Sir Alex Ferguson – convinced McTominay to opt for Scotland.
CM – Edu
Edu contemplating switching allegiance to England after being granted a British passportCredit: AFP
EDU was close to picking England as his national team after being granted a British passport during his five years at Arsenal.
The midfielder seriously considered the Three Lions, believing his chance of earning a place in the Brazil squad was limited.
However, Edu was called up by Brazil in 2004, ending the debate.
He would go on to play 15 times for the South American giants.
RW – Adnan Januzaj
England hoped to convince Januzaj to play for them but the winger fell short of eligibility rulesCredit: Reuters
IN 2013, then bursting onto the scene at Man Utd, Roy Hodgson revealed he was looking into the possibility of Januzaj playing for the Three Lions.
Hodgson believed the winger fulfilled the requirements to qualify for England – which he didn’t.
Januzaj would go on to play for Belgium and even scored the winner against England in their 2018 World Cup group game.
LW – Wilfried Zaha
Wilfried Zaha swapped England for Ivory Coast in 2017 after four years in the wildernessCredit: Alamy
HAVING moved to England from Ivory Coast at the age of four, Zaha appeared fully committed to the Three Lions.
Zaha played 13 times for England’s Under-21s and even played twice for the SENIOR team.
However, as both games were friendlies the winger was still eligible to switch to Ivory Coast.
After failing to be called up for four years, Zaha did turn to the African nation in search of international football in 2017 and has gone on to play 20 times.
ST – Gareth Bale
Gareth bale never had any intention of playing for England but was eligibleCredit: Reuters
BALE was always eligible to play for England through his grandmother.
Having spent all of his youth career from the age of 10 at Southampton, the Three Lions had hoped he’d play for them.
However, he was quick to snub England and would go on to play for Wales.
In 2016, Bale even said: “I wouldn’t care if I never qualified – I would never play for England.”
ST – Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland was eligible to play for England before he made his Norway debutCredit: AFP
BORN in Leeds during dad Alf-Inge’s time in the Premier League, Haaland was incredibly eligible to play for England.
However, there was never any doubt in Haaland’s mind he would play for Norway like his old man.
He has since played 15 times, scoring 12 goals – making himself ineligible to play for England.