MANCHESTER: Adnan Januzaj has the family background which makes him eligible to play for 10 European national teams: all the former Yugoslav and Balkan nations plus Turkey (mother) and Belgium (his home) and now England want to be the 11th and definitive choice.
The Football Association had already contacted Manchester United manager David Moyes before the Belgian-born 18-year-old turned a one-goal deficit into a 2-1 victory with two fine goals in six minutes in his first Premier start at Sunderland.
England Roy Hodgson thinks that Januzaj, who moved to Manchester in 2011 from Anderlecht, could be available for England by 2015. However FIFA rules state that a player must be a resident in a country for five years after his 18th birthday before he qualifies to play for the country in which he lives.
This is all dependent, in any case, on whether Januzaj stays. His contract expires at the end of the season and the excitement surrounding his potential has alerted many other European big-spenders.
On the qualification issue, Moyes said: “The FA people have made their interest in him known. He has been called up by Belgium and chose not to play for them. He is wanted by Albania and Croatia as well as England.”
As for contract, the manager added: “All young boys want to play for Manchester United. I don’t know a better place for them to work, a club that promotes young players and hopefully a manager who promotes young players.
“If I were a young boy, or a dad, I would be saying you have a chance of being in the team because they push you forward. It is part of my remit.
“At Everton I gave Wayne Rooney his debut at 16 and Ross Barkley his debut at 16. Adnan is certainly up there with those boys. But he is a very humble boy. He works hard. We know we have got a really exciting talent.”
Januzaj was fortunate to have the chance to rescue United. Had it not been for David de Gea’s reflexes in the first half, when United trailed to a Craig Gardner goal, managerless Sunderland could have on the way to their first win of the season.