Crossing borders for soccer roots

Ran across this interesting story about Christopher Birchall, the first white guy to play for Trinidad & Tobago’s national team in over 60 years. I remember him from the World Cup last summer, a good hard-tackling right midfielder.

Of course crossing borders to represent other countries is nothing new. The U.S. team has had a list of players born in other countries with American parentage, like Earnie Stewart, Thomas Dooley, Tab Ramos, and Jeff Agoos. Some of these guys moved to the U.S. at a young age, and some received their citizenship later after discovering the link. We even had a guy, David Regis, a Frenchman of Caribbean ancestry, who married an American woman right before the ’98 World Cup and ended up as our left back for about 4 years.

Half the French team was born outside of France including the great Zidane. The Japan team has a Brazilian on their roster. The Mexicans have an Argentine. The Germans have Turks. Poland had a Nigerian.

And the U.S. will soon have Ghanian-born Freddy Adu, now starring for the U20 team.

But don’t forget, Hakeem Olajuwon once represented the U.S. in Olympic basketball.

Confused yet? The rules are pretty straight forward. If a player from Country A can gain citizenship, through ancestry, regular application, whatever, in Country B before he represents country A in an official competition, he can then play for Country B. So David Beckham, who’s played for England many times, could not play for the U.S., even if he became a citizen.

Back to Chris Birchall. His mom was born in Trinidad, though he was born in the UK. His story’s pretty cool.


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