Manchester United’s teenager Adnan Januzaj is just like Tony Dorigo – the Italian-Australian who became English for glory and money
IAN Wright and Jack Wilshere agree that only players born and blooded in England should play for England at football. How Wilshere’s views will pan out with Liverpool and England’s Jamaican-born Raheem Sterling have yet to be established. Manchester United’s teenager Adnan Januzaj should not play for England, they say.
Fair enough. He might not want to. But Anorak recalls one foreign-born player who did pull on the England shirt. Australian-born Tony Dorigo, for it is he, played in the same England team as Ian Wright. We can find no record of Wright saying back then in 1993 that victory over Brazil would have been “hollow” with a foreigner in the team. Playing with a non-England born player is “just cheating” says wright.
But we can repeat what Melbourne-born and raised Dorigo said. At age 15, he wrote some letters:
“I wrote my CV out and sent 14 letters to the top 14 teams in England. I then waited. A few weeks later I received just one letter, from the previous season’s champions, Aston Villa.”
He got he job:
“Going to Villa from Australia was like a dream. All of a sudden I was at the English Champions who had also won the European Cup in 1982. I found myself at the best club in Europe! I got better and better, I signed a professional contract and at 18 I was in the first-team. At around 18 or 19 Australia approached me to see if I wanted to play in their World Cup qualifiers. I thought that was fantastic, so I went into the Villa manager Tony Barton to tell him the situation. Australia has some crazy games, against the likes of Fiji and American Samoa, basically some dodgy Oceania games. Tony Barton looked at me and said: ‘Tony, you have just got into the first-team in the English First Division, we have got Manchester United away and Liverpool at home coming up and you want to go away for five weeks to play the likes of American Samoa?’ He basically laughed me out of his office and told me I was not going to be joining up with Australia.”
And then, the FA came calling:
“England came along and asked me to play for them if I hung around for another year and got my British citizenship. My father was Italian and my mother was Australian, so I have no English parentage at all. What I say to my English friends today is that ‘you lot were so bad you needed an Aussie to come and play for you!’ It was very different back then to what it is now – the players in the Premier League today fly all over the world to play for their countries. They just did not allow that to happen in my day.”
But he’s a true Englishman now. Right?
“If there was a level playing field as there is now I would have played for the country I was born in. I had a great affinity for Australia and I always have done. When it comes to the cricket and rugby, I’m an Aussie. It is just the football bit that went awry – but it just didn’t seem an option at the time. Playing for Australia back then did not mean a lot compared with playing for England, which trebled your wages.”
Such are the facts…