Thursday, 23 October 2008

Arsenal's Almunia To Follow Option Of Playing For England

Arsenal’s Spanish keeper Manuel Almunia has revealed that he believes that representing Spain is not an option for him, but that he feels English and will pursue the chance of playing for Fabio Capello’s side for as long as the opportunity should remain open.

31-year-old Almunia arrived at the Gunners from Celta Vigo in 2004 and has made 53 appearances during his time at the Emirates Stadium, with the keeper, who was born in Pamplona eligible to apply for a British passport next summer.

Almunia had a slow start a the North London club, having to play second fiddle to German International Jens Lehman for the first few years at Arsenal. However, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger gave Almunia his chance last season, with Lehman in indifferent form, which Almunia took resulting in the transfer of Lehman in the summer.

Spain have strength in depth as far as goalkeepers are concerned, with Iker Casillas, Pepe Reina of Liverpool and Victor Valdes all ahead of him for the keeper’s jersey.

England on the other hand have struggled for a consistent number 1 for some time now, with Paul Robinson, David James and Scott Carson along with Robert Green and Chris Kirkland all failing to make the position their own.

Now with the possibility that Almunia could play for England in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the Spaniard has claimed that he will follow it should that option remain open to him.

Almunia said: “The opportunity is there and I'll follow it for as long as the possibility of playing for England remains open.

“I don't think playing for Spain is an option, they have enough 'keepers, it's not their biggest problem.

“If I got a British passport then I would be able to play for England and, at the moment, I feel very English.

“I am very happy living in this country. The people are always very welcoming and I have made many friends.”

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