Haaland and the top 5 players who could have played for England at the World Cup

Stuart Telford
Stuart Telford
  • Updated: 19 Nov 2022 12:17 GMT
  • 5 min read
Erling Haaland, Manchester City, 2022/23

Erling Haaland and Harry Kane up front for England?! That could have happened if Manchester City's Leeds-born goal-machine had chosen the country of his birth over Norway…

England have a few players of their own who could have turned out for other countries. Of their likely starting XI, Declan Rice and Jack Grealish were previously part of the Ireland set-up before changing their international allegiance, while Raheem Sterling was born in Jamaica.

But there are more than just Haaland who have made the opposite journey. Football Transfers looks at five of the best…

READ: The 10 highest valued players not at the World Cup

Erling Haaland (Norway)

Haaland was born in Leeds in 2000 the summer his father - former Norway defensive midfielder Alfie - swapped the Yorkshire club for Man City in a £2.5 million (€2.9m) deal, but the family moved home when the younger Haaland was four, and he has turned out for Norway since under-15 level.

"You never know how it might have been if my father had played longer in England, maybe I would be English!" Haaland told Goal's YouTube programme Box to Box. "But I'm Norwegian, and I'm proud of it." He has since scored 21 goals in 23 international outings, but will be watching the World Cup from home alongside the rest of Norway.

Jamal Musiala (Germany)

Jamal Musiala came closer than Haaland to playing for England. The Bayern Munich prodigy was a Young Lions teammate of Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham up to under-21 level, and the two remain close friends to this day.

But son after swapping Chelsea for Bayern, the Stuttgart-born youngster also swapped England for Germany, with the likes of Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer in his ear at the Allianz Arena. Heads to the World Cup with 22 goal involvements in 22 games for Bayern this season.

Gareth Bale (Wales)

Gareth Bale is Wales' all-time top goalscorer with 40 strikes from his 108 caps, and he will overtake Chris Gunter as the nation's record cap-holder two appearances into the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, but the former Real Madrid star - now at LAFC - could have played for England with his grandmother born there.

"I am really proud to be Welsh and to play for Wales," Bale told the Mirror back in 2011. "Like my idol Ryan Giggs [who played for England School Boys]. I wouldn't change anything for the world." England have seem destined to miss out on world-class left-footers…

Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)

Crystal Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha - like Rice for Ireland - made a handful of senior international appearances with England, earning friendly caps against Sweden and Scotland in the 2012/13 season before committing to the Ivory Coast, the country of his birth, in 2017.

Zaha had been uncapped by England for four years until that point, but since then has plundered 54 goals and 24 assists in five full Premier League seasons for Palace, and England can't helped but wonder what might have been.

READ: Maguire IN, Sterling OUT: How will England line up at the 2022 World Cup?

Gio Reyna (USA)

Another who was born in England, Gio Reyna's first breath was taken in Sunderland in 2002, a year before his father Claudio moved to City to replace Haaland's father Alfie in central midfield. The younger Reyna and Haaland subsequently played together at Dortmund, with Erling describing Gio as "the American Dream" after a glut of assists at the start of last season.

Reyna remains a Dortmund player, where his talent is obvious despite a frustrating injury record. Has former BVB man Christian Pulisic ahead of him in the USMNT squad, but is widely regarded to have a higher ceiling than Chelsea's "Captain America".