Football Journeymen: 11 Legendary Footballers Who Played for Multiple Countries!!

On my travels around the world, one of the most fascinating aspects of it for me, is changing countries. I just love the idea of crossing a new border, seeing a new flag, watching a different international football team, changing currencies, saying thank you in a different language and so on. I despise cloned countries and love nationalism and pride. I buzz off the diversity from one country to the next! Hence why I am anti-UN, anti-EU and anti-UK – regions and cultures should be allowed to revel in their sense of local pride, not forced into international borders by excrement exits who think they know better!

Up the Cherries! Watching Bournemouth at West Ham, London

Up the Cherries! Watching Bournemouth at West Ham, London

The flipside of this is the zany element of it – those people who see themselves as nationalists for more than one country now these people are wacaday! They have been given the chance to represent multiple countries and so they take it. And yes, I am talking about football here. As a long term backpacker, whackpacker, groundhopper and football geek, I had a look at some of the players who have played for multiple FIFA countries, and a little look at those unrecognised countries too like Gorno Badakhshan, Guernsey and Abkhazia. I did so much travelling to unrecognised countries, the recognised countries became as boring as hell! Did you know that the national sport of Podjistan is Subbuteo?!

My visit to the national stadium in Khorog, Gorno Badakhshan

While researching this, I hoped to land upon the dream player below, who doesn’t exist. This player:

  • Born in Pristina in Yugoslavia in 1975.
  • Played for Yugoslavia aged 17 in 1992. 1 cap in a friendly. My birth country changed its name with FIFA.
  • Played for Serbia and Montenegro in 2000. 1 cap in a friendly. My birth country changed its name with FIFA.
  • Played for Serbia in 2010. 1 cap in a friendly. My birth country changed its name with FIFA.
  • Switched to Switzerland as Kosovo was still unrecognised. 1 cap in a friendly. My birth country changed its name with FIFA.
  • Played for Kosovo once they gained FIFA recognition. 1 cap in a friendly. My birth country changed its name with FIFA.
  • In 2020, STILL a free agent!

But that player of FIVE legitimate FIFA countries and still a free agent does not exist so it seems…I certainly couldn’t find one. But I knew there must be some crazy journeymen out there – basically the equivalent of a backpacking footballer. Yes we all know about the Ferenc Puskases, the Jermain Defoes and the Didier Drogbas of the footballing world, but what if footballers went more obscure than that and yet stayed within the laws…which don’t exactly lend themselves kindly to the ardent Northern Irish nationalist whackpacker here…

Northern Ireland 1-2 Yugoslavia (August, 2000. WIndsor Park, Belfast).

Northern Ireland 1-2 Yugoslavia (August, 2000. WIndsor Park, Belfast).

FIFA Eligibility Laws

Eligibility laws set out by FIFA are not clear and not really accurate. There is so much room for a grey area here. There are many flaws. Have a look at these examples…

1.The Marshall Islands
A fully recognised UN country such as Marshall Islands has NO official international football team. So imagine a superstar footballer is born there and grows up there. Which country does he play for? Under FIFA rules he can only play for Marshall Islands, which doesn’t exist in FIFA…so he has no country. I backpacked through Majuro Atoll and Eneko Island in 2019, and even played football in a country that doesn’t play football…

Playing football int he Marshall Islands, a country that doesn't play football!

Playing football int he Marshall Islands, a country that doesn’t play football!

2.The United Kingdom (Untied Queendom)
The UK is a kingdom and although I personally don’t recognise it as a real country, many people do. So if it is a real country, why doesn’t it have a team? Because England invented the game and the four main UK countries were also the first four countries to have an official football team. England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland (now called Northern Ireland).

3.Great Britain
Just to confuse you even more, Great Britain is also not a real country in my eyes, yet they have an Olympic Football Team, often known as GB and NI to include Northern Ireland. They even won the thing!

Perhaps the best answer to the Marshall Islands question I posed is Matthew Le Tissier’s example. Matt was born in Guernsey, which also doesn’t have a FIFA team. The only difference is that Guernsey is not a recognised country to many (although, unsurprisingly I personally recognise Guernsey and loved my time there). But officially Matthew Le Tissier and his family are all from Guernsey, a non FIFA country. So Matt could only ever play international football for Guernsey, who are unrecognised and playing only in tournaments like The Island Games, The VIVA World Cup and The CONIFA World Cup. Wrong, a clause allowed him to play for England. It only seems fair since he spent most of his working life as a footballer at Southampton FC (Scummers), in England. Unfortunately as much as Matt was a great player (albeit for my big rivals), he wasn’t a big journeyman so didn’t make my squad. Guernsey, England, England B, Southampton and Eastleigh not even backpacking to make the cut!

Matthew Le Tissier - Guernsey and England

Matthew Le Tissier – Guernsey and England

5.Northern Ireland
It pains me to say that according to FIFA, a player born in Northern Ireland (myself included) with Irish nationality can legally choose to represent both Irish teams – Northern Ireland (Ireland) or the Republic of Ireland. To me, the real Irish team is Northern Ireland as it is the oldest and was the first Ireland international team. So I will always only choose Northern Ireland. I don’t even recognise the Republic of Ireland team beyond the border of the 26 counties. But some Northern Irish players have used this loophole to play for the other Irish team, despite it being possible that they never visited the Republic of Ireland and had no parents or grandparents from there.

Northern Ireland’s World Cup hat-trick 1958, 1982, 1986 and cheated out of 2018.

6.Hong Kong and Macao
The Northern Ireland saga happens in many other countries too sadly…This is also true in Macao and Hong Kong, where those players can choose China as well. Don’t get me started on Taiwan though – they are not allowed to call themselves Taiwan by FIFA’s outrageous political laws yet they can officially qualify for the World Cup and if they do, they will be known as Chinese Taipei.

And while we are at it, does this mean that someone born in Gibraltar before they were FIFA recognised could have played for any of the UK teams? Well in theory yes. But what if that player feels Spanish and doesn’t recognise the existence of Gibraltar despite being born there, surely FIFA would allow that player to represent Spain? If not then FIFA are going against the same kind of principles that allowed Kosovo players to happily play for Switzerland (Shaqiri being one).

Inside the Victoria Stadium in Gibraltar

Kosovo is one of my favourite examples as the country stayed the same while FIFA dictated your football country, look at this for craziness! You never left Pristina in your life, but FIFA changed your football nationality 5 times in 14 years…(2002 – 2016)
1990 – if you were born in Kosovo, your FIFA country is (the united) Yugoslavia.
2000 – if you were born in Kosovo, your FIFA country is (the new) Yugoslavia, which doesn’t include Croatia or Slovenia who left first. In fact at Euro 2000 Yugoslavia played against Slovenia!
2002 – if you were born in Kosovo, your FIFA country is Serbia and Montenegro.
2006 – if you were born in Kosovo, your FIFA country is Serbia.
2016 – if you were born in Kosovo, your FIFA country, finally, is Kosovo.

There’s a place called Kosovo

Article 10 of FIFA

Article 10 of FIFA states, that only “an independent state recognised by the international community” may be admitted into FIFA. That in itself is ridiculous as there are many independent states without a FIFA team and many FIFA teams that are unknown and unrecoginsed.

Granny, Granda, Ma and Da – how many countries can we represent??

FIFA’s rules mean a player can choose one, two or more legitimate nationalities whether by birth, parentage, politics or grandparentage. The number could easily be as high as 9!! Yes what about a player born in Northern Ireland to a French Mum, whose parents were from Spain and Portugal and a Hong Kongese Dad whose parents were from South Korea and Spain? How many countries is that player eligible to play for? The answer is 9. In theory, that player could get 9 caps all in friendlies for 9 different countries, all within FIFA’s rules. But they would need multiple passports and a HELL of a lot of paperwork to prove all that. My research was kept to a little more basic level. In fact, I was more intrigued by a country which was once part of another country, and another country, and another country. Kosovo (now recognised by FIFA), fits this example perfectly. As does Abkhazia (still unrecognised by FIFA). There’s a magic list coming. This is like backpacking the world as a footballer. Ever been to a national stadium in a country that doesn’t exist?

Stade Mohammed Laghdaf – National Stadium of Western Sahara

Footballers who played for FIVE FIFA Countries

Sorry to disappoint you, but I found none. It is a real shame that Akhrik Tsveiba never played for his birth country of Georgia, or he would jackpot hit. There could be players who have played for five countries of course, but not all recognised by FIFA as far as I can tell. I could class myself as a wacaday international who once played for Team Gwiadz in Poland. That’s my cap.

4 Legendary Wacaday Footballers Who Played for Multiple FIFA Countries!!

What country is this team?

11 Legendary Journeymen Footballers Who Played for Four, Three or Two Countries

These are the guys that lived the dream and I selected my personal top 11. But then got carried away so I did a full squad of 23 to take to a World Cup. If you want a full list of footballers who played for multiple countries, there is some information here but it is incomplete and only includes official FIFA teams. I needed to think outside the box, pun intended. Here’s the 11 journeymen…

1.Akhrik Tsveiba (USSR, CIS, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Abkhazia)

Defender Akhrik Tsveiba could just be my favourite wacaday footballer of all time! He’s my hero! Not only did he play for 4 real FIFA countries, but he played for two of them in major tournaments! Not only that but he scored for two of them and is a defender! To top it all off, the two countries he really should be playing for are NOT even included in those four!!! Yes, Akhrik Tsveiba is legendary, even appearing on a postage stamp in his native Abkhazia.

4 Legendary Wacaday Footballers Who Played for Multiple FIFA Countries!!

4 Legendary Wacaday Footballers Who Played for Multiple FIFA Countries!!

You see, Ahkrik Tsveiba was actually born in Abkhazia, an independent state officially in land claimed by Georgia, but he never once played for the Abkhazia international football team. Ahkrik was born in Gudauta in Abkhazia. Gudauta isn’t even the capital city of little known Abkhazia! Here is me by the Abkhazia flag at their embassy in Tiraspol.

Abkhazia Embassy Tiraspol

At the Abkhazia Embassy in Tiraspol

Akhrik Tsveiba was born in Abkhazia in 1966. At that time, Abkhazia was one of the republics included in the Soviet Union / USSR / CCCP. None of Abkhazia, Georgia, Russia or Ukraine had recognised international football teams, although many people classed them as countries. By FIFA standards Akhrik had one option – represent the Soviet Union. So that he did…but it wasn’t an easy journey. In the 1980s, Akhrik didn’t win a single cap! He plied his trade in Abkhazia for Dinamo Sukhumi, had a brief spell at SKA Khabarovsk in Russia in 1984, before playing for Dinamo Tbilisi from 1985 – 1989. He wasn’t chosen for the Soviet Union for the 1988 European Championships, and aged 23 was still uncapped. Then in 1990, came his chance. Ahkrik was now playing for the mighty Dinamo Kiev and was capped by the Soviet Union / USSR. He was also included in the 1990 World Cup squad.

Akhrik Tsveiba

Akhrik played regularly for the Soviet Union from 1990 – 1992 and scored once, while politics and borders dominated the headlines. Since the Soviet Union no longer existed and was in a transition period as the smaller countries began to form, FIFA and UEFA agreed that a temporary team called CIS (Commonwealth Independent State) could take the USSR’s spot at Euro 92. So Ahkrik played for the CIS in 1992, and scored once. He was living in Ukraine though and now came the dissolution of the USSR and CIS teams. His FIFA countries before that were now confined to the dustbin. As he lived in Ukraine, Ahkrik agreed to play for Ukraine and made his debut for his adopted country in 1992. 3 countries already! However, in 1997, after his time working in Asia, Akhrik had the opportunity to play for Russia. He was a free international agent as his first two countries no longer existed, his solitary Ukraine cap was in a friendly. So he started to play for Russia. After all that, it just so happens that Ahkrik never actually played for the country where he was born, Georgia. As he represented Russia in a competitive game, he is no longer eligible to play for Georgia. His career also took him to Japan and China for club football. But he wasn’t even the first player to play for four countries…enter Mr. Pyatnitsky…

2.Andrey Pyatnitsky (USSR, CIS, Uzbekistan, Russia)

Born in Tashkent, Andrey Pyatnitsky grew up in Uzbekistan, while it was still part of the USSR. He played for a brace of teams in the Uzbekistani capital Tashkent (Star and Pakhtakor) before moving to the famous Spartak Moscow. He was now living the dream in Russia, part of the old USSR. The USSR called him up and he played for them in 1990. In 1992 he played for the CIS, scoring twice. Andrei also made his debut for his native Uzbekistan in 1992. But from 1993 he eyed the World Cup and wanted to be on an Upper Deck USA 94 Collector’s Card so he lived that dream too. Four FIFA countries, all legitimate! What a legend. He also scored twice for Russia and marked Dunga in the World Cup match v. Brazil.

Andrei Piatnitski (USSR, CIS, Uzbekistan, Russia)

3.Alfredo Di Stefano (Argentina, Spain, Colombia, Rest of the World XI)

You knew I’d stick Alfredo Si Stefano in here. I had to leave out dual national Ferenc Puskas though, as he was too obvious and a bit too mainstream to be a hardcore footballing backpacker! Di Stefano however managed to play for Argentina, Spain and Colombia, as well as a “Rest of the World XI” in 1963 at Wembley. He was an absolute superstar, winning trophy after trophy, scoring goal after goal. Di Stefano won five European Cups, and countless other awards in a decorated career. He died in 2014 just days after both Colombia and Argentina had played in World Cup quarter finals.

Alfredo Di Stefano

Alfredo Di Stefano

4.László Kubala (Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Spain, Catalonia, Europe XI)

Okay so I said no players played for five FIFA countries, but epic journeyman László Kubala (born in Hungary) is probably the closest we will get. He played for three FIFA countries – his native Hungary as well as Czechoslovakia and Spain, He also played for the unrecognised Catalonia, and represented the Europe XI on two ocassions, scoring thrice! He scored 22 international goals in 34 international matches for 5 countries! He played for clubs in 8 different countries at a time where very few did that. This included spells in Spain, Italy, Canada and Slovakia. He scored over 130 goals for Barcelona. He got greedy and wanted a sixth country so he managed Paraguay! Beat that!

László Kubala (Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Spain, Catalonia, Europe XI)

László Kubala (Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Spain, Catalonia, Europe XI)

5.Dejan Stankovic (Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, Serbia)

To be honest, it would be far too easy to do this list using players from only the former USSR and the former Yugoslavia. But I wanted my list to be more diverse and not as boring as just a mix of those countries but this dude has to be in there! Dejan Stanković has created a record which may never be beaten or broken.

Dejan Stankovic (Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, Serbia)

He is renowned for being the only man to represent three different nations at FIFA World Cups – Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro and Serbia. This may simply not be possible ever again as once capped for a country in a competitive match, you cannot switch countries, so the only way this could happen again is a break up of states in the same gradual way as Yugoslavia did. Not only did he play for 3 countries, but he played international football in 3 decades (1990s, 2000s and 2010s), scored for all three countries and played an actual World Cup match for all three countries. Wow!

Dejan Stankovic (Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, Serbia)

6.J,o,h,n,n,y Carey (Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, League of Ireland, Europe XI)

The Irishman who was captain for FOUR different countries! This legend, J,o,h,n,n,y Carey, also played during the war for Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton. He captained the Ireland team who were the first ever team to beat England in England – a 2-0 win at Goodison Park. He was a right back, who also played as a goalkeeper and even scored a lot of goals. He captained Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, League of Ireland X1 and Europe X1. If that doesn’t make J,o,h,n,n,y legendary enough then get this – he was the first non-UK player to captain a winning English League team and FA Cup team.

J,o,h,n,n,y Carey (Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Ireland League, Europe XI)

7.Bruce Grobbelaar (Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, Matabeleland, South Africa, England)

An international career spanning 32 years, played in a fake World Cup, won the European Cup (Champions league), played at Wembley over 10 times, Bruce Grobbelaar is possibly the most deserving member to this list. Bruce made his international debut in 1977 for Rhodesia, and was in nets for Matebeleland in 2018 at the CONIFA World Cup! He captained Matebeleland aged 60.

Bruce Grobbelaar (Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, Matabeleland)

As a legendary goalkeeper and king of the Kop at Anfield Road in Liverpool, Bruce also had spells as Crewe Alexandra, Sheffield Wednesday and a seemingly endless list of clubs. The only time he scored a goal in his career was when he was out on loan! To cap it all off, Bruce Grobelaar didn’t even play for South Africa where he was born or England – the country he spent his entire career playing! Don’t mention one country hero Andrew Cole to him though…

Bruce Grobelaar (Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, Matabeleland)

Bruce Grobbelaar (Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, Matabeleland)

8.Alex Bruce (Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England)

Alex Bruce is the international player his Dad only wishes he could have been. Anyone claiming that the uncapped Steve Bruce is a tragedy seems to forget that being uncapped was Steve Bruce’s fault. His mother was from Bangor in Northern Ireland and even though Bruce played for England B and youth level, he never won a full England cap and could have easily represented Northern Ireland. Enter his son who did something even more peculiar. Alex Bruce was born in England, yet got himself Irish nationality and played for the Republic of Ireland in the 2000s. Then he got confused, decided he was Northern Irish and got himself capped by Northern Ireland in the 2010s. In doing so, he became the first player since the 1950s to play for both Ireland teams and while he did it officially and legitimately, he wasn’t even Irish. Yes, the irony being, he’s actually English. Neither Irish team really wanted him or warmed to him yet he has 2 caps for each, as well as having won some trophies in England and played in an FA Cup Final.

Alex Bruce (Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland)

9.Ryan Zico Black (Guernsey, Northern Ireland, Not Brazil)

Ryan Zico Black is not a made up story and while he may not be the most skillful player on my journeymen eleven, he totally merits his place due to his crazy chronicles. Ryan’s Dad played football with Irish Republican hunger striker and British MP Bobby Sands! Ryan’s Dad loved Zico and so named his son after Zico. And whilst a staunch Catholic and Irish nationalist from Belfast, his son ends up playing for two British linked countries! Ryan was capped by Guernsey at full level (unrecognised by FIFA) and for Northern Ireland at under 21 and under 18 level. He scored for Guernsey in the World Cup (well, World Island Games!) Ryan played in the Maracana stadium and was on the same pitch as Zico in EVERY match he played!

Ryan Zico Black (Guernsey, Northern Ireland, Not Brazil)

The list of clubs on this journeyman’s career listing sounds like a fairytale. Plying his trade in Australia, Spain, Guernsey, England and Northern Ireland, Ryan played for some weird sounding clubs that I didn’t even know existed! The craziest thing of all is that he got to play in front of 70,000 fans in the Maracana and even scored, just like his namesake Zico. He also released a book and did a nude photoshoot, oh ladies…AKA….What A Life…

“I’m going to take that tiger outside for a ride” – Noel Gallagher.

Ryan Zico Black (Guernsey, Northern Ireland, Not Brazil)

10.Carlos Kaiser (Brazil / Nobody)

If you haven’t heard of Carlos Kaiser, maybe you should buy his book? The Greatest Footballer NEVER to Play Football! This legendary Brazilian was at 10 different clubs in 14 years and played for NONE of them. Yes you heard right – a journeyman footballer who was shit at being a journeyman footballer. He signed for clubs in Mexico and Brazil, but kept feigning injuries and never played a single professional match!! The ultimate journeyman – a decade of bullshit!

Carlos Kaiser - 0 appearances for anybody.

Carlos Kaiser – 0 appearances for anybody.

11. Luis Monti (Argentina, Italy)

Luis Monti is surely the ultimate World Cup final journeyman! Luis Monti played in the first ever World Cup final, in 1930! He was on the Argentina side that lost 4-2 to Uruguay in the first ever World Cup final. He also scored two goals in that tournament. However, he decided he would change allegiance to Italy through his family links. Indeed, thanks to that decision, he also played in the second ever World Cup final, in 1934! This time he was a World Cup winner for Italy who beat Czechoslovakia 2-1. In the history of the World Cup, he is the only player to play in two consecutive World Cup finals for two different countries. Many West Germans did it between 1982 and 1990, but officially the 1990 team was still called West Germany despite the Berlin Wall fall in 1989. So Monti, is one of a kind!

Luis Monti Argentina and Italy

Notable mentions / Also Rans

While my top 11 is basically my starting team going by who I deemed the craziest journeyman, I got carried away in my research so I thought I’d make it a full squad.

12.Robert Prosinečki (Yugoslavia, Croatia, West Germany)

Robert Prosinečki was born in West Germany but he played for Yugoslavia in the 1990 World Cup and was a World Cup quarter finalist and goalscorer. The Yugoslavs were banned in 1992 Euros and the 1994 World Cup. But not to worry, Robert also qualified to play for Croatia and represented them at Euro 96 and World Cup 98. Impressively, this time he reached the Euro quarter finals and World Cup semi finals. He scored for Croatia in the 1998 World Cup and won a bronze medal as the Croats finished third. He remains the only player to have scored for two teams at two different World Cups (I didn’t include Germany and West Germany in this, otherwise Voller, Matthaus, Klinsmann etc. would all join).

Robert Prosinecki played against Maradona in the 1990 World Cup quarter final

Robert Prosinecki played against Maradona in the 1990 World Cup quarter final

13.Peter Barnes (England)

Old Barnesy, what a legend. If Peter Barnes had played for more than one country, he would have made the first XI. But wow – what a career! He won 22 caps and scored 4 goals for England in the 1970s. But it was his crazy club career that was the most wild! He played for 28 different clubs at least in England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal, USA and Malta. He played and scored for both Manchester United and Manchester City. He scored in the League Cup final in 1976 for the latter and was young player of the year.


Peter Barnes at Manchester City

14.Geoff Twentyman Junior (England)

Perhaps the oddest inclusion on this list but I had to whack him in! This English radio presenter, Geoff Twentyman, played over 400 league matches in England, mostly for Bristol Rovers), he played at Wembley and turned up at Belfast Linfield in 1993 to famously win them the league, sadly starring in a 2-1 win at the Oval against my team Glentoran FC. His Dad was a legend at Liverpool and had the same name! The story was so ridiculous I had to include it as when my school mate Neil McKittrick told me “Linfield have signed a player called Geoff Twentyman”, I was convinced it was a total wind up and fake story, speaking of which…14 and 15 ahem!

Geoff Twentyman Junior (England)

Geoff Twentyman Junior (England)

15.Alessandro Zarrelli (Italy, Fraudster Republic)

Champion fraudster Alessandro Zarelli created a fake football career out of being a scammer! Born in the city of Rivoli in Italy, Zarelli convinced many teams to take him on trial. This included clubs in all four UK countries – Rangers in Scotland, Bangor City in Wales, England’s Sheffield Wednesday and Northern Irish league team Lisburn Distillery signed him!! He later featured on a SKY documentary called “Super Fakes” and in real tragic circumstances died in a car crash, aged only 34.

Alessandro Zarrelli (Italy, Fraudster Republic)

Alessandro Zarrelli (Italy, Fraudster Republic)

16.Ali Daia (Senegal and ‘faked’ Liberia)

This guy is an absolute nut!! He has played in the Premier League for about 50 minutes in arguably the most sensational football story ever. He was not a professional footballer at all!! Ali Dia‘s mate phoned Graeme Souness, then Southampton manager, and convinced him that he was the cousin of FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or winner George Weah. Souness bought the story and Ali Daia signed a one-month contract with Southampton days later. Dia played only one match in his short spell at the club, coming on as a sub for Matt Le Tissier only to be subbed in the same match. Predictably, he was subsequently released 14 days into his contract but he can tell his grandchildren he played in the Premier League!

Ali Daia (Senegal and 'faked' Liberia)

Ali Daia (Senegal and ‘faked’ Liberia)

17.Claudio Gentile (Libya, Italy)

Claudio Gentile was the first African born player to win the World Cup. And he did so with some aplomb! He won the 1982 World Cup with Italy, marked Zico (Brazil) and Maradona (Argentina) out of the games, he was included in player of the tournament and also played at World Cup 78 and Euro 1980. While Claudio Gentile never played for the country he was born in, born in Tripoli, he is probably the only Libyan born World Cup player. I would need to check.

5 Jul 1982: Zico (left) of Brazil and Claudio Gentile of Italy mark each other during the World Cup Second Round match at the Sarria Stadium in Barcelona, Spain. Italy won the match 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport

18. Steve Guppy (England schoolboys, England under 21s, England, England ‘B’, England ‘C’)

Steve Guppy lived the English nationalist dream for sure!! He is the only player ever to play for England schoolboys, England under 21s, England (full team), England ‘B’ and England ‘C’. On top of this, he was a true journeyman playing for Leicester City, Celtic, Rochester Rhinos and 10 other clubs, making over 600 appearances and scoring over 50 goals. He only won one cap for the full England team – it was in 1999 against Belgium. His trophy cabinet is also wild – he won the Anglo Italian Cup, the Scottish Premier League and the FA Trophy amongst others.

Steve Guppy – the ultimate England footballing nationalist

19.Alvin Corneal (Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana AND Cricket for Trinidad and Tobago)

I was going to make it only football of course, but then you realise how legendary Alvin Corneal is. Alvin played international football for Guyana (then called British Guyana) in the days when it wasn’t even a FIFA member (pre-1961). Alvin played for Trinidad & Tobago from 1959 to 1967 and in 1962 also made 4 appearances for Barbados. He also played international cricket for T and T. To finish it all off, he was a technical advisor for FIFA and is a popular celebrity in his native Trinidad and Tobago.

Alvin Corneal (Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana AND Cricket for Trinidad and Tobago)

Alvin Corneal (Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana AND Cricket for Trinidad and Tobago)

20.Shwan Jalal (Iraq, Kurdistan, England ‘C’)

I had to include Shwan Jalal on this list. He is the former AFC Bournemouth goalkeeper who I watched live often at Dean Court. He was born in Baghdad in Iraq and made around 150 appearances for the Cherries in the bottomo three divisions. Shwan played one half of a match for Iraq and kept a clean sheet as well as playing for the England C team and the unrecognised country Kurdistan!

Shwan_Jalal, AFC Bournemouth and Iraq

21.Yuriy Nikiforov (USSR under 21s, CIS, Ukraine, Russia)

Ukrainian Yuriy Nikiforov played for four countries, but not at full level for USSR. He is Ukrainian born but played for Russia in three major tournaments – World Cups of 1994 and 2002 and the Euros in 1996.

Yuri Valeryevich Nikiforov

Yuri Valeryevich Nikiforov

22.Stanley Matthews (England, Great Britain, English League XI)

The legendary Stanley Matthews repesented England in the 1930s, the 1940s snd the 1950s, playing at the World Cup. He also played for Great Britain at the Olympics and represented the English League on 13 ocassions, in those days the leagues had a lot more international matches. He also played top flight football in England in four different decades (add in the 1960s!) – absolutely crazy considering the kids these days barely do 2 decades. I left him out of my first XI not on skill of course, but because he wasn’t really a “journeyman” – his three countries are all pretty similar and apart from playing in Canada, most of his club career was at two clubs – Blackpool and Stoke City.

Stanley Matthews – 4 decades of football

23.George Best (Northern Ireland, World XI, English League Select)

You knew it was coming. The star man. The ultimate football journeyman! George Best played for Northern Ireland, scoring 11 goals (FIFA claim it was 9 but his goals v. England and Scotland are legitimate to me).

George Best playing for AFC Bournemouth in 1983

George Best playing for AFC Bournemouth in 1983

On a personal level, I attended George Best’s funeral, visited George Best’s house, support two clubs George Best played for and I visited a bar in Slovenia named after George Best and a bar in Los Angeles once owned by George Best. George Best played club football in 5 continents – Bournemouth in Europe, Jewish Guild in Africa, LA Aztecs in America, Hong Kong Rangers in Asia and Brisbane Lions in Oceania! Look at this impressive list of clubs…

1963–1974 Manchester United 361 (137)
1971 – Rangers/Celtic Charity Select 1 (1)
1972 – World XI 1 (1)
1974 Jewish Guild 5 (1)
1974 → Dunstable Town (loan) 1 (0)
1974 West Brom 1 (unknown)
1975 Stockport County 3 (2)
1975–1976 Cork Celtic 3 (0)
1975 Chelsea 1 (unknown)
1976 Los Angeles Aztecs 23 (15)
1976–1977 Fulham 42 (8)
1977–1978 Los Angeles Aztecs 32 (12)
1978–1979 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 28 (6)
1978 Bolton Wanderers 1 (unknown)
1979 Ipswich Town 1 (unknown)
1979 Wrexham 1 (unknown)
1979–1980 Hibernian 17 (3)
1980–1981 San Jose Earthquakes 56 (21)
1981 Middlesbrough 1 (unknown)
1981 Portadown 1 (unknown)
1982 Sea Bee 2 (0)
1982 Hong Kong Rangers 1 (0)
1982 Glentoran 1 (0)
1982 Annagh United 1 (unknown)
1982 FC Valur 1 (0)
1982 KA Akereyri 1 (0)
1982 Dundee 1 (unknown)
1982 Arbroath Vics 1 (2)
1982 Bangor FC 1 (unknown)
1982 George Best All Stars XI v Barnstaple 1 (unknown)
1983 Scone Thistle 1 (1)
1983 Bournemouth 6 (0)
1983 Brisbane Lions 4 (0)
1983 Osborne Park Galeb 1 (1)
1983 Nuneaton Borough 3 (1)
1983 Ballyclare Comrades 1 (0)
1983 Osborn Park Galeb 1 (1)
1983 Newry Town 1 (unknown)
1984 Ballymoney United 1 (2)
1984 Tobermore United 1 (0)
1984 Dee Why 1 (1)
1984 Reading 1 (unknown)
1985 Aston Villa 1 (0)
1986 Workington 1 (0)
1986 Sheffield United 1 (unknown)
1986 LBC Wembley Market 1 (unknown)
1986 Pat Jennings Select 1 (unknown)
1987 Welling United 1 (unknown)
1987 Epsom and Ewell 1 (unknown)
1987 Glasgow Celtic 1 (unknown)
1987 Newhaven 1 (unknown)
1988 George Best Testimonial 1 (2)
1989 Devonport 1 (unknown)
1989 Panini Select XI 1 (unknown)
1989 and 1995 Crewe United 2 (unknown)
1990 Martin O’Neill XI 1 (2)
1991 Manchester United 1 (0)
1992 Queen’s Park Rangers 1 (unknown)

So it looks like my journeyman X1 turned into a World Cup squad!! Here are my players and their World Cup squad numbers and positions!

1.Bruce Grobelaar (GK)
2.Akhrik Tseivba (DF)
3.Claudio Gentile (DF)
4.Alessandro Zarelli (Utility fraud)
5.Carlos Kaiser (Utility fraud)
6.Luis Monti (MF)
7.George Best (FW)
8.Robert Prosinecki (MF)
9.László Kubala (FW)
10.Alfredo Di Stefano (FW)
11.Stanley Matthews (MF)
12.Peter Barnes (MF)
13.Shwan Jalal (GK)
14.Yuriy Nikiforov (DF)
15.Alex Bruce (MF)
16.J,o,h,n,n,y Carey (DF)
17.Geoff Twentyman (DF)
18.Alvin Corneal (FW)
19.Steve Guppy (MF)
20.Dejan Stankovic (MF)
21.Andrei Pyatnitsky (MF)
22.Ryan Zico Black (MF)
23.Ali Dia (??)

These players didn’t make my top 23 squad but also played at World Cups for multiple countries:
Férenc Puskas – Hungary (1954) and Spain (1962)
José Santamaría – Uruguay (1954) and Spain (1962)
Mazzola – Brazil (1958) and Italy (1962)
(in that list, I didn’t include Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, USSR to make it shorter)

Further reading / Good books on football:

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