Scoring two goals, thus sparing his team a third defeat in a row, and grabbing most of the headlines would have sounded like a dream to the teenager, while the storm over which country he’ll choose to represent would have been as distant from his mind as some of the countries he’s eligible to play for are on the map.
It’s worth remembering that, however talented he might be, Adnan Januzaj is simply an extremely talented teenager at the moment, thus the chances of him proving a difference on the international stage remain unproven.
But while the 18-year-old might well go on to become a star for Manchester United and one of Europe’s best players, there should be absolutely no chance of him taking to the pitch wearing an England shirt.
Januzaj is not English. He’s Belgian, a country which he has so far declined to represent at youth and senior level as he has his sights set on playing for Albania, the country where his dad hails from.
Due to his heritage, Januzaj could also play for Kosovo – the birthplace of his mum and a country with far from pressing matters at the moment than obtaining recognition from FIFA – Turkey and Serbia – where two of his grandparents hail from – but Albania seems to be the 18-year-old’s preferred choice.
At the moment the only thing linking Januzaj with England is the fact he lives in the country and plays for an English club, an incredibly risible foundation upon which to build a case for him to represent the Three Lions in the future.
On Match of the Day last Saturday, Roy Hodgson was coy about the youngster’s chances of choosing to play for England, for while Januzaj would be eligible for England by FIFA’s guidelines in 2018, the FA would have to breach an agreement between the Home Nations which no longer offers eligibility through residency.
Januzaj isn’t the first Premier League player for whom dual citizenship is hailed as the cure for England’s problems, for Carlo Cudicini, Steed Malbranque, Edu and Louis Saha were considered by Sven Goran Eriksson.
Fabio Capello, the Swede’s successor, toyed with the idea of selecting Mikel Arteta who, at one point, was widely deemed to be the difference between a successful World Cup and another sorry tale of failure and disappointment.
Cynics will point at Marcos Senna, Diego Costa and Mauro German Camoranesi as examples of players swapping their homeland to play for another country.
However, Senna chose to play for Spain as he was likely to be never considered by Brazil, and much of the same could be said about Diego Costa – even though, given the Atletico Madrid’s outstanding form so far this season, Felipe Scolari might live to regret it – while Camoranesi was born in Argentina in an Italian family, thus his choice to represent the Azzurri made sense, to an extent.
Januzaj’s case is different altogether, for the youngster isn’t linked to England by birth or parentage and is likely to walk into either the Belgium or Albania side, which rules out the opportunity of him choosing England as a plan B.
The 18-year-old is an extremely talented player and rather than entertain the thought of pursuing him, the FA should focus on producing more players like Januzaj. They, at least, will be granted a spot in the England squad.
Should the FA consider calling up Adnan Januzaj if the opportunity arose? Is nationalising foreign players the answer to England’s problems? Let us know below or get in touch via our Facebook or Twitter.