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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta once threatened to "go to war" with FIFA over England rule

Rory O'Callaghan

| Last updated 

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta once threatened to "go to war" with FIFA over England rule

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta once threatened to "go to war" with FIFA in a row over his international career.

Spanish midfielder Arteta spent 11 years of his playing career in England, first joining Everton from Scottish side Rangers in 2005.

Arteta spent six years at Goodison Park, scoring 35 goals in 209 appearances for the Toffees, before joining Arsenal in 2011.

He went on to play 150 games for the Gunners, scoring 16 times, before hanging up his boots in 2016.


After moving into coaching at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola, Arteta stepped out of his compatriot's shadow to take charge of Arsenal in 2019.

After a rocky start in management, things have clicked for the Spaniard this season – with Arsenal mounting an unexpected title charge.

It is remarkable that Arteta spent so many years in the Premier League as a player, and yet never managed a single international appearance for Spain.



He was repeatedly overlooked for his national side, with the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, and Sergio Busquets also playing at the same time.

Arteta wanted to 'go to war' with FIFA

Speaking back in 2016, Arteta revealed was almost ready to go to war with FIFA in an attempt to play for England instead.

The midfielder was approached to represent the Three Lions by Fabio Capello in 2010 after completing five years' residency in the United Kingdom.


Former Spain U21 international Arteta was keen to switch his international allegiance but his hopes were dashed by an obscure FIFA rule.

"They did call me. Fabio Capello approached David Moyes when I was at Everton and I spoke to them and I was really thinking about it but there was a law at that moment and UEFA, or FIFA I think it was, didn't allow this and we had to take it to court and it was a big hassle," Arteta told talkSPORT.

"I was half ready to go to war but in the end we decided that to challenge FIFA was going to be a big story and as well my aim was always to play for the Spanish national team.

"At that time I was still hopeful I might get the call."


Arteta never did receive the call-up he was hoping for and ended his career as one of the best players to never feature in a senior international.

"There were three times when I thought I was very close [to a Spanish call-up] and two occasions I was injured, and there were some comments from the national team to wish me all the best and tell me I was very close to joining [them]," he added.

"But, again, I have that regret but I completely understand why I haven't been [called up] because they have had some fantastic, and probably the best midfield of any generation ever. I accept they are probably better than me, it's very simple."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Mikel Arteta, Football, Premier League, Arsenal, England, Spain, FIFA

Rory O'Callaghan
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