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Tuesday 26 September 2017

Arteta reveals FIFA floored plan to play for England

ARSENAL'S Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta could have been lining up for England at Euro 2012 had it not been for FIFA's rules.

The 29-year-old hails from the city of San Sebastian in the Basque region, but has played in England since joining Everton in 2005.

Arteta's form for the Toffees saw him touted as a possibility for Fabio Capello's squad two years ago, having not previously represented Spain at senior level. The player considered an England call-up, but the decision was taken out of his hands upon closer examination of world governing body FIFA's regulations.

"If it was any other country I would have had to say no, but because it was that one I said I would have to think about it," he said.

"England has been really good to me professionally and personally. In the end I didn't have to make a decision because I wasn't allowed to play because of FIFA rules.

"At least it was nice to know that Fabio Capello and his staff were thinking about bringing me into the national team.

"I feel English in some ways because I have spent the biggest part of my career here."

Arteta has been an impressive performer in the Premier League since moving from hometown club Real Sociedad in 2005.

The Spaniard's rise to prominence surprised many but not childhood friend Xabi Alonso, who helped sway his decision to move to Goodison Park - despite then playing for bitter rivals Liverpool.

"We used to live five minutes away from each other and play at the same clubs when we were young," Arteta said of the Real Madrid midfielder.

"We had a good relationship but then I went to Barcelona and he stayed. Then suddenly, five years later he went to Liverpool and I went to Everton and we lived next door to each other.

"It was crazy but that's what football brings you sometimes. You never know where you are going to end up."

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