Gunners Spanish midfielder ace Mikel Arteta has revealed he has considered playing for the English national side as he feels part of the country that essentially made his career. The Spanish born Barcelona graduate also hailed his friendship with Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso who spoke so positively of Liverpool and English football.
Arteta began his career as a trainee with Barcelona before a loan move to Paris Saint-Germain and spells with Rangers and Real Sociedad.
Arteta has played in England since joining Everton in 2005, having started his professional career at Barcelona, then enjoyed spells with PSG, Rangers and Real Sociedad before premiering in England’s elite league with the Toffees.
The Spaniard’s impressive form for Everton lead to speculation that he may be set for an England call up as he had not represented Spain at senior level, only at a range of junior levels up to the U21 side.
The 29-year-old was considering the challenge of English national team football, but after closer examination of FIFA rules Arteta is unfortunately ineligible.
Arteta told Arsenal’s official website:
If it was any other country I would have had to say no, but because it was that one I said I would have to think about it. England has been really good to me professionally and personally.
In the end I didn’t have to make a decision because I wasn’t allowed to play because of FIFA rules. At least it was nice to know that Fabio Capello and his staff were thinking about bringing me into the national team.
I feel English in some ways because I have spent the biggest part of my career here.
Obviously I know how English people think, what they do, the culture – I know everything. I have to adapt to that so I am living life like an English person. It’s funny, I look at my child and hear her talk English, it’s amazing.
[On his relationship with Xabi Alonso] We used to live five minutes away from each other and play at the same clubs when we were young.
We had a good relationship but then I went to Barcelona and he stayed. Then suddenly, five years later he went to Liverpool and I went to Everton and we lived next door to each other. It was crazy but that’s what football brings you sometimes. You never know where you are going to end up.
Obviously I spoke to him and he said Liverpool was a really nice city to live in, that the fans were unbelievable, there was a big rivalry between the two clubs and it was a good experience.
I didn’t have any doubts about moving there and that was partly thanks to him.