Star Adnan Januzaj is a wanted man. But not the kind of wanted that comes with robbing a bank or evading your taxes. The reason behind it is one that millions of people are envious of, and one that very few have the option to. If you have heard anything about Januzaj, excluding his obvious talent with a soccer ball, you may have heard that he is eligible to play for an astonishing six different countries. But he recently chose one that raises more than a few eyebrows.
When the list is made up of Albania, Belgium, Turkey, Serbia, Kosovo and England, the Manchester United youngster has quite the headache ahead of him. At only 18, he will have to commit the rest of his career to play for only one country. Needless to say, this is not an easy decision, but it is also one that Januzaj will not make on his own — he has left the decision up to his father, Abedin.
So out of all these nations, which is the most obvious? Belgium is a dark horse going into the 2014 World Cup, and many expect them to defy expectations and make a run to the final. However, Januzaj senior is not a fan of head coach Marc Wilmots, effectively ruling the Belgians out. England is a traditional powerhouse, and many of Januzaj’s United teammates will be heading to Brazil this summer. The only problem with that is Januzaj has to live in England for five years before being allowed to play.
Turkey and Serbia are interesting options, and both sides are full of quality players. The obvious down side is that neither of them qualified for this summer’s tournament in Brazil, and their participation is rarely guaranteed in future competitions. Albania surely isn’t an option if Januzaj has ambition to win a major international trophy, so cross them out.
Only Kosovo is left on the list, but surely Januzaj wouldn’t choose a team that isn’t even recognized by FIFA, right? Wrong, but let’s just say theres a catch. Earlier today, Januzaj stated that he would represent Kosovo for their first ever international match against Haiti next month. Although a shock to many, the decision makes sense, considering Januzaj’s uncles fought in the Kosovo Liberation Army that won independence for the Balkan nation.
Here’s the catch. Kosovo is not recognized by the United Nations, due to the ongoing conflict between Serbia and Kosovo, and as long as they are not members, they cannot be recognized to play competitively by FIFA. Until the dispute with Serbia is over, Kosovo is only allowed to play friendlies against nations who recognize their independence.
If Kosovo were to be accepted in the near future, it would be a wonderful opportunity for Januzaj to represent his family’s country for the first time ever. Fans in the other five nations hope that Kosovo’s day comes too late, and that Januzaj will have already chosen their nation to represent. The hope for neutrals is that he will choose a team that will be at both the European Cup and the World Cup, so that his play can be appreciated on the biggest stages.