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9 Irish-Born Footballers That Represented Other Nations On The International Stage

9 Irish-Born Footballers That Represented Other Nations On The International Stage
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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Over the years, Ireland have been one of the biggest benefactors of 'the granny rule'. Countless footballers born overseas have featured for The Boys in Green down through the years, many of them doing so very successfully.

Players going down the opposite route is a far rarer occurrence. It is not often we see players born in this country find international success elsewhere, although there have certainly been some exceptions.

Here are nine Irish players that played international football with other countries.

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Irish-born footballers that played for other nations

Roberto Lopes - Cape Verde

The most recent addition on this list, Dubliner Roberto Lopes is one of only two inclusions to play in a major tournament for his adopted nation.

The Shamrock Rovers defender made his debut for Cape Verde back in 2019, his father's country of birth. Playing for the African side was never something he had really considered, although he revealed how a random message on LinkedIn changed all of that:

Through sheer ignorance and probably rudeness, I didn't translate the message! I just assumed it was spam and was a standard LinkedIn greeting in Portuguese, which I don't speak...

I went back and copied and pasted the original message into Google Translate and he was asking me: "We're trying to get some new players, would you like to declare for Cape Verde?"

It all worked out in the end, with Lopes going on to play for Cape Verde at the African Cup of Nations in 2021. He would also play at the tournament earlier this year, where he would help the team to the quarter-final stage.

Willie Maley - Scotland

Willie Maley is a legend of Scottish football, especially in managerial terms. He managed Celtic for a scarcely believable 43 years, being in charge from 1897-1940. He would win 16 league titles and 14 Scottish Cups during this period.



While better remembered for his managerial exploits, Maley did have a successful playing career as well. He won quite a few major honours during his time with Celtic, also earning a couple of caps for Scotland just before the turn of the century.

This was despite the fact that he was actually born in Newry. His father, who hailed from Ennis, would move the family to an area just outside Glasgow a year after he was born.

Gerry Gregg - Turks & Caicos

How does a Dublin native end up playing for Turks & Caicos? This one is actually an interesting story.


Gerry Gregg's main sport in his youth was GAA, making a number of appearances for the Dublin minor hurlers in his teenage years. He would also make a single appearance for the UCD B side in football, having played for local side Palmerstown Rangers.

He moved to the Carribean in 1994 to work as an electrician, eventually settling in Turks & Caicos. When he started playing for local club KPMG United as a goalkeeper, he was soon invited to join up with the national team.

Having obtained citizenship, he would go on to play in a number of World Cup qualifiers for the nation. He would earn three caps in total.


Cornelius Casey - USA

Cornelius Casey was born in Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry in 1929, and having spent much of his childhood in an orphanage after the death of his mother, he would ultimately moved to the United States in his early 20s and end up serving in the Korean War.

Having settled in New York, he would end up playing for a number of American clubs. He would win an American Soccer League and National Challenge Cup with the New York Americans in 1954.

It was during that same year that he would be capped four times by the USA, scoring one goal along the way.


He lived in America for the rest of his life and remained heavily involved in the local soccer scene, passing away in 2001.


Eamon Zayed - Libya

Eamon Zayed was a fixture in Irish underage squads in his youth, but with senior opportunities not forthcoming, he took the decision to declare for Libya back in 2010. A Sporting Fingal player at the time, he qualified for the African nation via his grandparents.


He would go on to earn eight caps over a four year period, scoring one goal. Becoming an international player also led to some intriguing options in his club career, with Zayed taking in stops in Iran (where he scored a hat-trick in the Tehran derby), Malaysia, and the USA.

Having retired from playing in 2020, he is currently the manager of American third tier side Northern Colorado Hailstorm.

Kenny Finn - USA

Born in the the USA but growing up in Dundalk after moving there as a toddler, Kenny Finn was prodigious talent in both Gaelic football and football as a youngster. He ultimately chose to pursue the latter, signing with Dundalk as a 15-year old.

He won the 1958 FAI Cup with the club before moving to the USA a year later. Here he would play Gaelic football with New York, including being part of a famous victory over Galway in 1967. In all, he would play for the county for 16 years.

He would also feature in the German American Soccer League, leading to his international call-up. After gaining American citizenship, he would earn a handful of caps for the USA.

That included a brief foray as a goalkeeper. Despite starting as a defender in the game against Colombia, he would be asked to move into the nets after the starting keeper was forced off with an injury. While the USA would lose 2-0, Finn kept a clean sheet during his stints in goal.


Ayman Ben Mohamed - Tunisia

Ayman Ben Mohamed was born in the UK to an Irish mother and Tunisian father, but he moved to Dublin at the age of two. He would end up at UCD, spending two years with The Students before stints to Longford Town and Bohemians.

While still a Bohs player, he would earn a surprise call-up to the Tunisian national team in 2016, although he would have to wait another two years to make his debut.

Ben Mohamed would earn 14 caps for the country over the course of the next couple of years, playing in the African Cup of Nations in 2019.

He also played club football in Tunisia, spending three years with ES Tunis. He currently plays for French second tier side Guingamp, having joined last summer.


Jamie Bosio - Gibraltar

Jamie Bosio was born in Dublin to Gibraltarian parents in 1991, spending his formative years in Marino before moving to Gibraltar at the age of eight.

He would go on to represent the country on the international stage, breaking into the senior squad soon after they became a FIFA-recognised nation.

Bosio would win 12 caps over a three year period from 2015-2018. He was included on the bench in a couple of fixtures against the country of his birth, although he would not manage to feature in either game.

Speaking to the Irish Sun back in 2015, he managed to recall some of his childhood memories formed while living in Dublin:

I remember things like going to the Elephant & Castle for chicken wings every weekend.

I would have spent a lot of time in Stephen’s Green too, and we had an annual pass for Dublin Zoo because we spent so much time there.

Now retired, he works as a teacher and football coach in Gibraltar.

Ed Kelly - USA

Born and raised in Dublin, Ed Kelly moved to the USA in his youth and would go on to serve in the country's air force.

A midfielder, he would also play for a number of club teams after moving to the country. He was good enough to earn a call-up to the USA national team in 1974, earning two caps.

Kelly would go on to have a long career in coaching, including a 21-year stint at Boston College.

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