Saturday, January 12, 2008
Almunia denies Capello talks on England call-up
Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has denied he told Fabio Capello he wants to
play for England - but admitted he might be interested in switching
Reports in Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport yesterday said Spaniard
Almunia, uncapped by his country, had informed England manager Capello that he
is ready to take up British citizenship immediately in a bid to be eligible for
However, Almunia, who will qualify for a British passport at the end of the
year, believes there is a long way to go before he can even think about
'There's a lot lacking for this to happen,' he said.
'You need to have been here five years, and I've spent four here. I will
think about it if it happens.
'They've said that I have publicly commented that I was going to start the
process of becoming an England national, but I never said anything about that
and neither have I announced anything to the Italian media.
'[The media] talk about me being called up a lot because England didn't reach
the European Championships, but I haven't heard anything.'
Almunia, who become Arsenal's first-choice keeper this season after usurping
Jens Lehmann, has been singled out as a possible solution to England's
goalkeeper problems, with both Paul Robinson and Scott Carson making costly
errors during England's ill-fated Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.
And while the 30-year-old still hopes to represent his own country, he admits
the prospect of turning out at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa could see him
'I would prefer to hear the Spanish anthem than the England one,' he
admitted. 'But it's also true that the time of patriotism and really feeling a
national anthem has somewhat gone out of fashion.
'It matters more what you owe a country or the people of that country.
'I owe everything to Spain on a personal level but professionally I can't put
a price on what has happened to me in England.
'Moreover, there is little possibility of playing for Spain. So although I
would love to put on the Spanish shirt, I feel the same about playing in the
And Almunia does not believe he would be an automatic choice for the England
'The level of goalkeepers isn't bad,' he added. 'Perhaps there are more
mistakes and it's true that they work less on their technique than in Spain.
'But the pressure for a goalkeeper here is enormous because [the media] talk
a lot about any errors.'