Sam Wallace: 'Signing' young stars ruins rules of the game
In the modern era, football has been at the forefront of articulating the change in British society, beginning with the sons of the Caribbean immigrants who were the first high-profile black players in the 1970s and 1980s.
The West Bromwich striker Saido Berahino, whose family sought asylum in the UK from Burundi, is an England Under-21 international. Diego Poyet, born in Spain, was two when his father, the Uruguay international Gus, joined Chelsea in 1997. Growing up in England, Diego has captained England's junior sides.
These young men are a reflection of modern Britain's successes. Nationality is a very personal choice, but when it comes to international football there have to be some defining rules and the Adnan Januzaj case is a good test.
Januzaj came to England not because his parents' jobs changed, or for his family's safety, but because he was a 16-year-old prodigy signed by Manchester United. If the Football Association were to naturalise every good teenager brought from overseas into an English club's academy, it might as well give up on the notion of international football altogether.
The international game is intended to encompass rivalry, it is supposed to test one country's ability against another's to produce the best players. In that respect it has to be – by its very nature – different to the rules that ordinarily govern where individuals can work and live.
To select Januzaj for England in 2018, however pragmatic, defies the principle of international football. On a wider scale, it does no service to the players developed in the English system and nor does it help the smaller nations.
The counter argument will be that others, like the mighty Spain, are doing it, so England should follow suit. But naturalising foreign footballers is not the solution to the England team's problems – and in the long-term it could do a lot more damage.
Latest in Sport
David De Gea latest: Louis van Gaal wants goalkeeper sold to Real Madrid so Jasper Cillessen can be signed before Saturday
UFC 190 Ronda Rousey vs Bethe Correia: What time does it start and where can I watch it, plus Mauricio Rua vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Arsenal vs Chelsea - Community Shield 2015: Mesut Ozil can prove his greatness at last, says Arsene Wenger
Manchester United and Adidas branded 'sexist' and 'discriminatory' as women's shirt features plunging neckline and different design
Arsenal vs Chelsea - Community Shield 2015: 'We are our own biggest threat,' says Cesc Fabregas
- 1 Labour rallies behind Flint as deputy leader to offset a Corbyn win
- 2 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 3 It won’t work, Jeremy: The Health Secretary has lost the confidence of the medical profession in his attempt to reform the NHS
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 'Cool kids' can go on to become losers in later life, study finds
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality