7 players to switch international allegiances as Laporte prepares for Spain bow

Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte is expected to line up for Spain and make his first major tournament appearance for them against Sweden at Euro 2020.

But it is a moment of personal history for him as it is the first game since leaving the French national team and switching allegiances.

The 27-year-old qualified to play for the Euro 2012 champions through his grand-parents in the Basque region but represented France from U17 to U21 level.

Laporte is following a well-trodden path, though, with just over 100 players changing nationalities in the last century.

So Daily Star Sport has taken a look through the passports of world football stars to pick out others who have changed flags…

Declan Rice (Ireland – England)

The West Ham midfielder was not always the lynchpin of Gareth Southgate’s midfield, having started for Ireland due to his grandparents being born in Cork.

Having played at U16, U17, U19 and U21 level, his breakthrough in the 2017/18 season earned a debut the following summer – but appeared in a 1-0 defeat to Turkey.

Despite new boss Mick McCarthy promising to build the team around him, the 22-year-old decided a year later to switch to the Three Lions.

Including his start in the 1-0 Euro 2020 win against Croatia, Rice has now made 18 appearances in the famous white shirt.

Do you think Aymeric Laporte will win Euro 2020 with Spain? Let us know in the comments section.

Jack Grealish (Ireland – England)

Another player to follow the same path was the No.7 for England – but it took them a while to lure the Aston Villa star across the Irish Sea.

Working up to U17 level by 15 years old – due to three of his grandparents descending from the country – the FA made an approach which was refused.

Despite being prosperous with the U21s, disagreements with Martin O’Neill saw Roy Hodgson sneak in to offering him playing time at the same level with the Three Lions.

Three years later, Southgate gave him a debut in the Nations League draw against Denmark last year while earning plaudits from pundits ahead of the tournament.

Wilfried Zaha (England – Ivory Coast)

The Crystal Palace is one of the few to walk away from the England shirt, a decision he made in 2016.

Zaha was hot property at the time, having returned to Selhurst Park from Manchester United to become a potent attacking threat.

This was developed on the international stage very briefly, making an U19 and U21 appearance during his prosperous Championship days.

But November 2016 saw the 28-year-old switch to Ivory Coast, qualifying due to his birth in Abidjan before heading to London at four years old with his family.

Named in the squad for the Elephants’ African Cup of Nations campaign three months later, having assisted on his debut, with five goals in 20 appearances now to his name.

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Nacer Chadli (Morocco – Belgium)

While the former Tottenham man was born in Liege, Belgium, his dual registration meant the forward made his Morocco debut in 2010, making a man-of-the match performance against Northern Ireland in a friendly.

But he switched to the Red Devils three months later, representing them at two World Cups and now two Euros with his inclusion in Roberto Martinez’s squad this year.

Jamal Musiala (England – Germany)

Bayern Munich’s 18-year-old midfielder could prove to be the one that got away.

With a British-Nigerian dad and German mum, Musiala’s move to England saw him appear at U15 level for them before making two U16 appearances for the 2014 World Cup winners.

He worked up to U21s alongside developing in the Chelsea academy, appearing in European Championship qualifiers last year.

But his breakthrough with seven goals in 37 games at Bayern, where he transferred last summer, sparked a decision to represent Germany.

Diego Costa (Brazil – Spain)

One of the most high-profile switches in recent history involved the ex-Chelsea forward, having made two Brazil appearances in friendlies eight years ago.

After a prosperous 2012/13 season at Atletico Madrid, his citizenship allowed Spain to apply for him and win due to the South American games not being competitive.

When Costa decided on the World Cup winners, Luis Felipe Scolari declared he had ‘turned his back on millions’ – and it seemed to lay heavily on him as his new country left at the group stages.

After scoring 10 goals in 24 games, his last appearance came three years ago against Iran at the Russian World Cup.

Kevin-Prince Boateng (Germany – Ghana)

Having been born in Berlin, the former Portsmouth and AC Milan forward represented Germany at U19 and U21 level.

But a change in FIFA regulations on national allegiances in 2009 saw him acquire a Ghanaian passport through his dad and change to the African side.

It marked a memorable decision as he represented the country at the World Cup in. South Africa against his former team – which featured brother Jerome.

He played a part in their road to the quarter-finals before retiring the following year, though his international career ended in shame.

Boateng was sent home from the 2014 World Cup after allegedly verbally abusing manager James Appiah before calling the team “amateurish”.

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