We reported yesterday on West Ham’s 2-2 draw with Man City, which saw Hammers stalwart Mark Noble win his 549th cap for the club in what was his final home game.
The club captain received a deserved standing ovation prior to kick-off, and also when he came off the bench in the second half.
Had fate been different however, we could have celebrating the career of a distinguished Republic of Ireland international, if Noble been inclined to switch allegiances from England.
Noble represented and captained England at an underage level, but was qualified to play for Ireland through his Cork-born grandparents.
However, although the possibility was much discussed at various points in his career, Noble stuck to his morals and gave admirable reasons as to why he would not play for Ireland.
Mark Noble For Ireland?
It was initially reported in 2014 that there was a strong chance that Noble may declare, with the midfielder even adding fuel to the rumours by saying, “I would find it a little strange to pull on the green jersey, only because I’ve captained the England U21s. But you never know – football is a strange game and I will make a decision over the next couple of weeks.”
Nothing came of it and in 2016 he firmly put to bed any hope of following in the footsteps of so many who used the granny rule to their advantage.
That’s no disrespect to Ireland,” Noble stressed. “They’re a fantastically proud nation. I’ve got a lot of family from here, and you can imagine the pressure I got from my family. But I didn’t dream of playing for them. The thought of being chosen over an Irish player who had dreamed of playing for Ireland …. That didn’t sit right with me.”
They are certainly noble reasons from the Englishman, as he added himself to the extensive list of English players who could have played for the Republic of Ireland.
The most talked about story of this nature was that of Noble's West Ham teammate Declan Rice, and it was revealed that when Rice was a 20 year-old and had a decision to make about his international future, Noble advised lent him some advice.
"I’ve spoken to Dec, we’re really close," Nolan said on talkSport in 2019. "“He knows where I am if he wants to talk, but he’s such a level-headed young man. He knew what was coming, but he didn’t rush into things and buckle to peer-pressure."