England batsman Kevin Pietersen today challenged Jack Wilshere to define what constitutes a foreigner in an extraordinary intervention in the debate over whether Adnan Januzaj should be eligible to play for England.
It is the latest twist in the discussion over who should be eligible to play for the national team, sparked by the possibility that Manchester United's rising star could turn out for the Three Lions in the future.
Wilshere said that the rule which dictates a player can qualify to represent a country in the international game if he lives for five years in that nation after his 18th birthday was flawed.
"For me if you are English you are English and you play for England," said the Arsenal midfielder yesterday. "The only people who should play for England are English people. If you live in England for five years it doesn't make you English. If I went to Spain and lived there for five years I am not going to play for Spain."
Wilshere's comments are just one side of the debate, with former FA chairman David Bernstein saying today that England should take advantage of the residency rule that could allow Januzaj, who scored two goals at the weekend on what was his first start for United, to be selected.
Pietersen, who is South African born but represents England after qualifying on residency grounds, tweeted: "Jack Wilshere - interested to know how you define foreigner...? Would that include me, Strauss, Trott, Prior, Justin Rose, Froome, Mo Farah?"
Those mentioned in the tweet have all represented England or Great Britain at the highest level despite not being born in this country.
Wilshere responded to the tweet: "With all due respect Mr Pietersen the question was about Football! Cricket, cycling, Athletics is not my field!"
Pietersen replied: "same difference.. It's about representing your country! IN ANY SPORT!"
Wilshere then somewhat confusingly, responded: "I agree thats exactly what i was saying...."
It's been a busy day on Twitter for Wilshere who earlier took to the social networking site in an attempt to clarify the comments he made to the press yesterday.
"Just to clarify a few things....again! Seems to be a trend in this country, poor journalism in my eyes! I wasn't referring to Janujaz (sic)... The question was should foreign players be allowed to play for England, and in my opinion I don't think they should! He is a great player... I wish he was English! I'm sure most of you agree with me even if some journalist are trying to make me look bad....again!"
Wilshere's claim that he wasn't referring to Januzaj appear misleading, as the name of the United youngster was even used in the question put to him on the subject.
During the press conference, Oliver Kay, who is the chief football correspondent at The Times, asked: "Jack, there has been lots of talk over the last few days about the lad Januzaj, who is at United, in terms of playing for England in the future … with players like you, Ross Barkley and Ravel Morrison all coming through what would your view be about playing with foreign players with England, or even watching them from the bench?"
To which Wilshere replied with the view that has sparked so much debate: "No, for me if you are English you are English and you play for England...."
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