13 out of England’s 26 man Squad for Euro 2020 could play for a different country

By Lauren Tavriger,
Executive Assistant, Best for Britain

As Gareth Southgate announces his Squad for the Euro 2020 tournament, England fans are preparing for what could be a memorable summer.

With England heavily tipped as one of the favourites, and the possibility of fans inside Wembley for the much anticipated rematch of their victory over fellow home nation Scotland at Euro ‘96, many will be getting excited about the prospect of it ‘coming home’. 

But where is ‘home’?

Best for Britain research shows that 13 players in England’s squad for Euro 2020 could have represented another nation, due to having either a parent or grandparent born outside of the UK. The squad is a wonderful example of the benefits of immigration, and is a celebration of diversity. 

England’s skipper Harry Kane, for example, qualifies through his Father to play for the Republic of Ireland, and had things worked out differently prior to making his England debut in 2015, he could have been playing in qualifiers for the tournament in a green shirt.

In fact, six out of the eight forwards are eligible to play elsewhere. Kane is joined by Raheem Sterling (Jamaica), Marcus Rashford (St Kitts and Nevis), Bukayo Saka (Nigeria), Jadon Sancho (Trinidad and Tobago) and Jack Grealish (Republic of Ireland) on the list of players that England could have lost out on. 

When you add up all the caps of these players, it equates to 318: more than former England captains David Beckham (115 Caps), Steven Gerrard (114 Caps) and Gary Lineker (80 Caps) combined (309).

Some of England’s greatest talent may never have had the opportunity to play for the Three Lions, particularly if immigration laws were historically as hostile as Priti Patel’s new proposals are set to be. And it paints a worrying picture for the future: how much talent might we miss out on, due to Patel’s hostile environment?

Grateful for the Three Lions

It’s not just on the pitch where they play their part.

Marcus Rashford spent most of the pandemic running an anti-poverty campaign, forcing government U-Turns to provide substantial and nutritious free school meals for families who qualify, whilst simultaneously setting up a children’s book club for disadvantaged students. Last week, former US President Barack Obama called Rashford to swap reading notes. 

Similarly, last summer Raheem Sterling launched his own social media campaign in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, calling on the government to address the under-representation of black people in top jobs, from parliament to sporting bodies. 

And last week it was announced that multiple members of the England squad were joining other home nations as part of BT’s Hope United, an initiative to provide digital skills training to tackle online hate. Jordan Henderson, Marcus Rashford and Trent Alexander-Arnold have all been signed up by ex-England captain, Rio Ferdinand. 

Cheering on football this summer will not just be about celebrating when the ball hits the back of the net. It will also be to celebrate diversity, immigration and freedom of movement.

All eyes on Wembley.

Lauren Tavriger,
Executive Assistant, Best for Britain