Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, on being asked about the possibility of one day donning gloves for England:
“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 â€” they have enough keepers â€” 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.”
That Almunia wants international football is not a problem for me per se. But I would be surprised if he has widespread support for an ‘England’ call-up.
For starters, I don’t know if you have noticed this, but Almunia isn’t exactly the best keeper in the Premier League. Cech, Reina and even James and Friedel (on last season’s form) can claim to be ahead of the Spaniard, and we haven’t even talked about Hart or the United keeping contingent.
If this was Petr Cech or Reina, I don’t doubt that even opposition fans would get behind the cause. Every keeper makes mistakes but by and large these two are two excellent goalkeepers and in my book a notch above the competition for the England jersey.
But it’s not a top-of-the-line keeper. It’s not a ‘once-in-a-decade’ keeper. He’s not even better than Lehmann was two years ago, or three years ago, and he hasn’t shown any signs of reaching those heights.
I don’t want Almunia for England. Clichy, now that’s a different story altogether…