Jack Wilshere and the English

Robert Henderson, England Calling, October 28, 2013

The young England and Arsenal footballer Jack Wilshere put the cat emphatically amongst the politically correct pigeons when he came up with the novel idea (in these pc times) that only Englishmen should be picked to play for England. Answering a question about whether Manchester United’s Belgian-born and raised teenager Adnan Januzaj , who is of Albanian descent, should be picked for England if he qualifies by residence Wilshere said

The only people who should play for England are English people,” he said after training at St George’s Park in preparation for Friday’s World Cup qualifier with Montenegro.

“If you live in England for five years it doesn’t make you English. You shouldn’t play. It doesn’t mean you can play for a country. If I went to Spain and lived there for five years I’m not going to play for Spain.’


These are truly remarkable public statements by a young English footballer on the edge of a probably glittering international career. Political correctness has now such a grip on British society that any statement which suggests national identity is valuable and should be preserved risks a media cry of “racist” followed by an ensuing witch-hunt. It is made all the more remarkable by the fact that he is making the point about being English, a doubly risky business in 21st century Britain where the idea of Englishness is alternately portrayed by the white liberal left elite and their ethnic minority auxiliaries as “dangerous” or “non-existent”, often, absurdly, both by the same person at the same time. Wilshere was taking a real risk with his career by speaking as he did.

Wilshere has backtracked a little as he faced the all too predictable attack from politicians, the mainstream media , liberal left interest groups and members of ethnic minorities.


Wilshere clarified early reports of his words which suggested he wanted only those born in England to play for England. In a response to the South African cricketer Kevin Pietersen who plays for England Wilshere made it clear that he was not advocating that only players born in England (or the rest of the UK) should be eligible, but rather that some unspecified period of cultural acclimatisation is necessary: “ To be clear, never said ‘born in England’ – I said English people should play for England.


A sense of national place is demonstrably not simply derived from living in a country. As Wellington said to those who insisted on calling him an Irishman, ‘Just because a man is born in a stable it does not make him a horse.’ To that I would add that if a man is born in a house but later chooses to live in a stable, he does not become a horse.


But there are also examples of individual ethnic minority and immigrant sportsmen giving direct evidence which suggests that their heart might lie otherwise than with England. The England cricketer Mark Ramprakash has an Indo-Guyanese father and an English mother. Ramprakash might seem just the type of second generation immigrant who would be fully assimilated into English society, whose entire loyalty would be to England. Yet the prominent cricketing journalist and commentator Christopher Martin Jenkins wrote this about him: ‘Colleagues on this touring party [the 1993/94 West Indies tour side] have suggested of him …that Ramprakash sometimes seems more at home with West Indian players, that his cricketing hero and chief confidant is Desmond Haynes; that he would be just as happy in the other camp [the West Indies]‘ CMJ Daily Telegraph 16/3/94).

Another good example of the immigrant player not fully assimilating in the one-time England captain Nasser Hussain. Hussain was born in India and came to England aged six. He has an Asian father and English mother. In an interview with Rob Steen published in the Daily Telegraph he said ‘If anyone asks about my nationality, I’m proud to say ‘Indian’, but I’ve never given any thought to playing for India. In cricketing terms I’m English.’

As with Ramprakash, Hussain might be thought to have a pretty good chance of assimilation into English life. Yet here we have him saying that he is proud to describe himself as Indian. I do not criticise Mr Hussain or any other player of foreign ancestry for feeling this way. It is an entirely natural thing to wish to retain one’s racial/cultural identity. Moreover, the energetic public promotion of “multiculturalism” in England has actively encouraged such expressions of independence. But none of that makes them a suitable choice for an England team.

If those born and raised in England from a young age have difficulty assimilating, the chances of immigrants who come here well into their childhood becoming English in their thoughts and outlook is considerably less. Take the case of the black England footballer John Barnes who came to England aged 12 from Jamaica. He makes his anti-English feelings shriekingly clear in his autobiography, viz:

“I am fortunate my England career is now complete so I don’t have to sound patriotic any more.” (P69 – John Barnes: the autobiography)

“I feel more Jamaican than English because I’m black. A lot of black people born in England feel more Jamaican than English because they are not accepted in the land of their birth on account of their colour.” (P 71) {Snip} “I tried hard for England out of professional pride not patriotism – because I never felt any. (P72)


Qualifications based on legal definitions of nationality, birth or residence are practically irrelevant in the context of national sporting teams, for the instinctive emotional commitment and sense of oneness, which are an essential part of a successful national side, cannot be gained so mechanically. That is particularly true of a country like England which currently has no legal status and possesses a history stretching back 1,500 years. Being English is a matter of culture and ancestry.

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  • Truthseeker

    No matter how much Cultural Marxist brainwashing they throw at these people (and any young Englishman has probably grown up with an incessant barrage of it), they still have a sense of national and ethnic pride. Does that not indicate that such things are inherent and crucial to a person’s identity?

  • Spartacus

    “The only people who should play for England are English people,”


    Revolutionary thought. Next he’ll notice that water is wet, and that’ll be racist too .

  • rowingfool

    Substitute the name Barack Obama for the names of those players cited in each of the above examples, USA for England, politicking for football or cricket and the whole thing still reads with perfect clarity and meaning.

  • IstvanIN

    The English have extensive public records going back hundreds of years, one of the advantages of being a society with a written language, it should be relatively easy to determine who has English blood and who, therefore, should play for an English team.

    • Sick of it

      Apparently these guys had English mothers. I would not be surprised if they were all white.

      • IstvanIN

        If they have English mothers, or fathers, and are of European origin, they should be considered English.

  • David Ashton

    More from Robert Henderson please. He knows, and he gets it right – and writes it so well.

    • skara_brae

      Yeah, well, with the possible exception of “…on the edge of a probably glittering international career.” Aside from the stilted grammar he has obviously never seen Wilshere play.

      • David Ashton

        I read this as orcadian sarcasm. On the immigration problem in England there are very few writers who have written so well as Henderson.

        Unlike my father who supported poor old Plymouth Argyle all his life, and played with various amateur soccer teams until a knee injury, I have little interest and even less knowledge of football, apart from a residual youthful admiration of Stanley Matthews, and regard the money side and morality side of “professional football” with the same prophetic disgust as Oswald Spengler. I think it was the conservative philosopher Roger Scruton who said the time was coming when the word “England” could have no meaning for the youth of this island other than the name of a team of eleven black people kicking a ball around a field.

        • skara_brae

          On your recommendation I’ll have a glance at Henderson’s work. As to your last sentence “…eleven black people kicking a ball around…”, much like the “French” national team these days.
          All the best.

          • David Ashton

            Yes indeed, thanks.

  • bigone4u

    “I feel more Jamaican than English because I’m black. A lot of black people born in England feel more Jamaican than English because they are not accepted in the land of their birth on account of their colour.”
    No one ever asks the logical question: “Why don’t you go back to Jaimaica if that’s how you feel?” We could ask a similar question of whiney American blacks: ” Why don’t you go back to Africa if that’s the way you feel?”

    • Elena Andbasket

      Birthplace is irrelevant. They are not us. If they are us we are nothing. Even if born here they regard somewhere else as ‘home’, even if that somewhere is just the birthplace of the feckless degenerate excuse for a ‘father’ that impregnated the mother and abandoned his unwanted offspring (Barry). They bear no resemblance to the indigenous people to whom they have only tenuous connections and affinity, if any. They often have clearly stated divided national, racial, religious and cultural loyalties. What’s next? We win the Olympic basketball gold by entering a team of trained orang-utans (all born here of course) then enthusiastically celebrate ‘our’ success?

    • M.

      “… they are not accepted in the land of their birth on account of their colour.”

      Not on account of their colour, but on account of their race, their ancestry. And their ancestry is not English. End of story!

  • MBlanc46

    Sounds right to me. And South Africans shouldn’t be playing for the England cricket side, either. Those who follow English cricket may remember the long, long wait for Grame Hick to qualify for England. Then, of course, he came a damp squib. I believe that Jack Hobbs had to wait seven years in order to qualify for Surrey because he was born in Cambridgeshire. In those days it meant something to represent your county or your country. These days, international sides are just mercenaries.

    • watling

      I believe Yorkshire was the last county side to drop their “born in the county only” policy. I remember Brian Close squirming a little when he explained the policy to the media, because those of us in the know were fully aware that it was really a “whites only” policy.

      The problem for Close and Yorkshire was that, by the 1970s, second generation Asian immigrants born in Yorkshire were old enough to play professional cricket.

      • MBlanc46

        Yes, that is correct. I don’t believe that it does England cricket any good to turn the county sides over to foreigners or to have players changing sides on a whim.

  • Paleoconn

    My boy Jack!

  • M.

    Yes, and they would equally count as non-English, and therefore not entitled to play in the national team. If they’re not of English ancestry, for generations, then they’re not English, regardless of their race or skin colour.
    Of course, an ethnic Englishman would me white. There’s no doubt about that.

  • watling

    The concept of neighbourhood teams sounds bizarre now. Once upon a time just about all football stadiums were built in working class areas and the team comprised local lads.

    Nowadays, not only are most players not local (many are foreign imports) but, thanks to the massive wages, any remaining local players have moved out to the leafy suburbs or further afield. Birmingham City used to be called Small Heath because that’s where the team originated but, while the stadium is still local, most of the supporters are from slightly further afield because the local population is now heavily Asian (i.e. Pakistani and Indian) and therefore not noted for being footballing enthusiasts.

  • As in the USA, professional sport here in the UK, where people care only about football, has been a vessel for the promotion of multiculturalism.

    • David Ashton

      Hence the “Private Eye” joke:

      “The FA may be rubbish at football, but they deserve credit for their excellent educational packs on sexism, racism and homophobia.”

  • Greg Thomas

    Hey Jack, you had it right the first time. Don’t betray your convictions because the White hating racists and self hating Whites cannot handle the truth.

  • David Ashton

    Nice to hear from a fellow patriot. Dad was Devonshire from Top to Hoe, and brought me up to love England, a sacred gift that has sustained me ever since.