Playing for more than one nation

It’s rare for footballers to play for more than one nation. If a player plays for a country in a FIFA accredited match they are then unable to play for another. However there are still numerous cases of players playing for two different nations before this rule was implemented, also players who have played in friendlies for one country before playing for another and many players have played for sides before and after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

We’ve picked a side of players who have played for more than one nation. The only criteria being that we couldn’t pick more than one player who had the same combinations of countries.


In goal we have former Chelsea shot-stopper Dmirti Kharine. As always when picking XI’s the goalkeeper spot is always the hardest to fill. We’ve chosen Kharine who played for the Soviet Union as well as Russia.

The back-line features Matthias Sammer, an excellent ball playing defender who played for East Germany before re-unification before becoming an important member of Germany’s Euro 96 winning side. Alongside him is Arsenal defender Oleg Luzhny who played for the Soviet Union before its break-up, and played for Ukraine afterwards.

Nacer Chadli is a player whose international alleigances lie across two continents. He played for Morocco in a friendly in Northern Ireland in 2010, yet later committed his international future to Belgium where has played over 30 times for the nation of his birth.

It would be wrong not to have a player who played for Czechoslovakia and one of Czech Republic or Slovakia, and the role in this side goes to Ľubomír Moravčík who played 42 games for Czechoslovakia and 38 times for Slovakia. Alongside him in midfield is Jermaine Jones who played for German youth sides before making three appearances for the full national team in 2008. As these games were only friendlies he still had the opportunity to switch, and did so in 2010 when he opted to play for the United States.

Ferenc Puskas is an interesting addition to the team. One of the greatest players of all time and is famous for playing a huge part in one of the best sides of all time: the Hungarian team of the 1950s. Yet, he took Spanish citizenship in the early 60s and played four games for his adopted nation at the 1962 World Cup. However, by this point of his career the magic was fading and he failed to find the net.

Perhaps even more intriguingly than Puskas, the figure of Kubala also makes our XI. Kubala played internationally for Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Spain. He even turned out for Catalonia in unofficial matches and netted a brace for a Europe XI at Wembley against a  England. Kubala played 180 matches for Barcelona and scored 131 times. A self-confessed “cosmopolitan” it would be hard not to make László Kubala captain of this side.

Michel Platini may seem to many to be a surprise selection in this side. However, it’s hard not to include him if only to detail the strange fact that Platini, one of the greatest European players of all time, once turned out for Kuwait in an international friendly (his last ever international match in 1988) Why Platini played for this oil-rich nation is unclear.

Alfredo Di Stéfano

Up front is Alfredo Di Stéfano who played for Argentina, Colombia and Spain. The four matches he played for Colombia were not recognised by FIFA, however the games for Argentina and Spain still allow him to qualify for this XI. Despite playing for three separate international sides, Di Stefano never played in a World Cup Finals tournament.

Completing our eleven is Juan Alberto Schiaffino who scored in Uruguay’s 1950 World Cup Final win over Brazil. He later moved to Italy and played for the Azzuri as his grandfather came from the Genoa region. Schiaffino joins an elite club of players to have played or two elite footballing nations as well as three club giants in  Penarol, Milan and Roma.

The source from this article, and a more comprehensive list of players who have played for more than one country can be found on the excellent RSSSF site here:


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