Top five players who could've played for another country

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International football should be relatively simple when it comes to selection. If you come from England, you play for England, if you're from Glasgow, you play for Scotland, and if you're from Swansea you can't play for Argentina. But if you are born in a different country things can get complicated. The same is true if a player has lived in a country for enough years to gain citizenship.

So sometimes a player must decide where their loyalties lie. In some cases, countries have lost out on great players who could have made a real difference. In others, wily managers have offered a chance of international football to players who otherwise wouldn't get a game. Think of Jack Charlton's squads of the 1980's and 1990's with Andy Townsend, Mick McCarthy and Mark Lawrenson.

There are many players who could be in this list, but here we've only included players from the last 20 years who've had success with their adopted nations.

Claude Makelele- Zaire/DR of Congo

The man was so good, they named a position after him. The Makelele role was invented by the great man at Real Madrid, and perfected at Chelsea. The defensive midfielder allowed the players around him to flourish by acting as a deep lying playmaker and ball winning dynamo, protecting the defence and prompting attacks from deep.

When he left Real Madrid with Beckham arriving, the great Zinedine Zidane lamented "Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you're losing the entire engine". Steve McManaman and Fernando Hierro also criticised the management for their handling of Makelele, demonstrating his value to the team.

What most people don't know is that he could have played for Zaire, which changed to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997. He certainly could have improved the fortunes of the team, who came third in the African Cup of Nations in 1998. Instead, of course he played for France, and helped them to the 2006 World Cup Final.

Clarence Seedorf- Suriname

The only player to win the Champions League with three different teams, Seedorf has proven himself as a quality player for several clubs. In fact, he's still playing at 37 for Botafogo, in Brazil, the club of Nilton Santos and Garrincha.

He is a legend at AC Milan due to his ten years of service, despite arriving from their neighbours Internazionale. In fact, he became the foreigner with the most appearances for AC, beating the record of the great Nils Liedholm. He also played for Holland 87 times. scoring 11 goals and featuring in the 1998 World Cup.

But he makes it on to this list because he was born in the capital of Suriname, Paramaribo. Incidentally, so were Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Aron Winter, Edgar Davids and the great goalkeeper Stanley Menzo, all Netherlands internationals. Suriname's loss was clearly Oranje's gain.

Marcel Desailly- Ghana

We could fill a team with players who played for France rather than the country they were born in, but 'The Rock' gets his place in the list for his performances in the 1998 World Cup and the 1994 Champions League Final. Starting as a teenager at Nantes, he made his name by first winning the European Cup in 1993 with Marseille, then with AC Milan the following year.

Unfortunately, Marseille's chairman Bernard Tapie was found to have fixed league matches and his team were stripped of the title. However, he played as a midfielder for AC Milan and scored the last goal in a 4-0 rout of the mighty Barcelona. He demonstrated his ability again, bringing composure and steel to France 1998 and walking away with a winners medal. He moved to Chelsea in the same year and showed the English league just how good he was.

It's strange to think that being born in Accra, Ghana, he could have played for their national team alongside Tony Yeboah and Abedi Pele. With 116 French caps to his name, it's frightening to imagine how many times he could played for his birth nation.

Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski- Poland

Ok, we've been a little sneaky here but both of these players played for Germany rather than the country of their birth, Poland and still maintain strong links with the country. Klose's parents both played professional sport in Poland and he still speaks Polish at home.

First capped by Germany at 23, he said the decision to declare his loyalty was a tough one. In fact, he stated in a interview that if he'd been asked to play for Poland earlier in his career, he would have accepted. Joint top scorer for Germany with 68 goals, he's still going at 35 with Lazio. However, even with 130 caps, he's in danger of being caught by his old team mate Podolski.

Podolski played for Bayern Munich and FC Koln before his transfer to Arsenal, and has racked up 111 national team at the age of 28. In the time he has scored 46 international goals, appeared at two World Cups and should be in the squad for Brazil 2014.

Poland, on the other hand, will not be travelling to South America. We can only imagine how Lewandowski, Klose and Podolski would have combined in a dream Polish line up.

John Barnes- Jamaica

Fondly remembered in Liverpool for his starring performances in red on the wing, Barnes was one of the first black footballers to really command a place in the England team. His final haul of 79 caps is testament to his skill, especially as the majority of them came in the 1980's a time when racism was still rife.

For example, when Viv Anderson received a call-up to the England squad in 1978, the first for a black player, he was sent a bullet in the post with a note telling him not to play.

Just five years after this, Barnes' virtuoso performances for Watford earned him a debut against Northern Ireland. In 1984 he scored the goal that came to define his career, a stunning solo slalom against the mighty Brazil. A move to Liverpool brought out the best in him, and he linked up spectacularly well with Beardsley, Aldridge and Dalglish.

He never quite hit the heights expected of him in a England shirt after 1984, but we still must remember him fondly for his brilliant rap verses in New Order's World in Motion, arguably England's best ever World Cup song.

Born in Jamaica in 1963, the son of a Major in the army who also happened to be an international footballer, (for Jamaica of course) young John's early life was tough.

If his family hadn't moved to England in 1976, he almost certainly would've played for the Reggae Boyz. Instead, English fans got to enjoy 12 years of service from the man Peter Beardsley described as "The best player I ever played with, bar none."

So just imagine how some the great teams of the past could have been shaped by these players. Special mentions must go to Eusebio (Mozambique), Vasilis Hatzipanagis (Uzbekistan), and of course, Robbie Earle (England).

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Marcel Desailly
Lukas Podolski
Claude Makelele

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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