Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Mark's Noble Decision

Mark Noble is eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland.

He was born in England.

He has played for England.

He has even captained England.

But his Grandparents are Irish.

According to FIFA, this makes him eligible.

It’s that simple.

If Mark was to play for the Republic of Ireland in their next game against Gibraltar - nobody could have a problem.

Not the English FA.

Not the FA of Ireland.

Neither UEFA nor FIFA.

Nobody could have a problem at all.

Nobody except Mark that is.

After all is said and done, with rulebooks checked and applications processed, there remains only one simple hurdle in the path of the player playing for the birth country of his Grandparents.

Mark Noble does not want to play for the Republic of Ireland.

Or perhaps more pertinently, Mark Noble does not want to play for the Republic of Ireland, yet.

And it’s the use of the word ‘yet’ that has turned this story into a debate.

Dave Kitson was available to represent the Irish national side.

He made it clear from the beginning that he didn’t feel Irish and didn’t feel it would be right to play for Ireland.

He falls into the category of ‘not wanting to play for Ireland’.

So too, do Zat Knight, Anton Ferdinand and Curtis Davis.

All players eligible to play for Ireland.

All players who’d rather have represented their country of birth and were prepared to finish their careers uncapped than represent the birth country of a member of their family.

The difference between all of them and Mark of course, is the little word ‘yet’.

Mark has already told us he would rather play for England.

He has told us this for many years.

And for that he deserved respect.

He was biding his time for an opportunity.

But as the door opened with the retirement of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, it subsequently closed with the call-ups of Jack Colback and Fabian Delph.

This was the chance Mark had waited for.

Instead it went to two younger, fresher midfielders.

If Mark wants to play international football, he will most probably now have to switch allegiance.

A topic which is not unfamiliar.

The Republic of Ireland have benefited aplenty in the past.

Most nations have at some stage.

Only last year did a tug of war take place between Spain and Brazil for the services of Diego Costa.

The same Spain and Brazil who were favourites to lift the World Cup.

Diego had the opportunity to play for both and chose Spain.

He turned down the chance to play for Brazil in a World Cup in Brazil.

That’s how much he wanted to play for the Spanish national team.

Winners of the actual tournament Germany, had two Polish born players.

Runners-up Argentina had a Frenchman.

Third place Netherlands had players born in Portugal, Canada and Switzerland.

But for every Miroslav Klose, Lucas Podolski and Gonzalo Higuain - there is a Kevin Prince-Boateng.

Mercenary extraordinaire.

At the age of 27, he has amassed a grand total of fifteen caps for Ghana.

Seven of which came in World Cup tournaments.

Five in World Cup build up games.

And only three other ‘non World Cup related’ appearances.

You get the feeling if he was in Mark’s situation, he might wait until the Euro 2016 campaign starts to show more than just promise.

No show of national pride like in the case of Diego, who turned down the opportunity of playing for his country of birth at a World Cup in his country of birth.

You don’t get much more noble than that.

Not every switch of allegiance is as extreme a case of course.

For every Kevin-Prince, there is a Kevin Kilbane, a Clinton Morrison and a Paul Butler.

The question of Mark’s ability compared to these guys should be asked.

Not his ability on the football pitch mind.

His ability to affect the Irish squad.

Of which he can affect massively.

Just maybe not in a positive way.

Or just maybe not in a positive way, yet...


  1. If he does a job for Ireland when he does come, I'm happy for him to. It'll depend on his attitude on the pitch and in the camp.

  2. I'd be worried about his attitude if he does join. Ireland's best asset is probably their spirit. He'd have a negative affect on that.