Germans rage at Capello's 'stealing' jibe


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The Independent Football

The German football association has been left seething at Fabio Capello's criticism of their recruitment policy.

Speaking in Dubai, the England manager said that rules should be brought in to prevent clubs "stealing" youngsters from another country, which in turn tips the balance on the international stage.

Capello used the example of Germany, who took 11 players to the last World Cup with dual eligibility, including star player Mesut Ozil and defender Serdar Tasci, both of Turkish origin. They helped Germany beat England 4-1 in Bloemfontein, a scar which continues to fester with Capello.

The German association (the DFB) has made no public statement on Capello's comments, but is not happy and privately has accused the Italian of getting his facts wrong.

Both Tasci and Ozil – a third generation Turk – were born in Germany and have represented the country at various youth age groups, in much the same way as Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, who has opted for a career with England despite being eligible for Ghana through his parentage.

Capello has insisted there is a difference between the cases and that he consulted Welbeck's parents before handing the 21-year-old his competitive debut in Montenegro, ending any chance of him representing Ghana.

The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, cannot see a problem with big countries selecting the best eligible players. "You cannot reproach a country for using players who are not German or English for generations," he said.

Former Chelsea midfielder Deco was able to represent Portugal purely on residency grounds, after leaving his native Brazil as a 20-year-old in 1993.

"It wasn't in my interests to see Deco play for the national team," said Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas. "There must be a historical relationship, and family relationship, rather than just a player who has played in a country for some time to get citizenship."

The spat has overshadowed a general point about major European clubs trawling the globe for players of promise, most of whom do not make the grade.

Yet according to Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini the matter has improved since he began his playing career three decades ago. "I left home when I was 13 because I wanted to play football," he said. "I had to leave my parents and my family. Now you have the possibility to move to another city, or another country, and someone from your family can come with you. That is very important."