It isn't exactly a novel topic, that of Mark Noble's ability to play for the Republic of Ireland. It has always seemed fairly safe to assume that he just wasn't interested at all in playing for Ireland, for personal reasons. But it turns out that his reasons for not playing are partly quite selfless. And intriguing, given the debate currently ongoing about the ability of players born outside Ireland to represent the country in sports like football and rugby. Munster's CJ Stander is often the subject of discussion in this respect, with certain pundits saying he is depriving young Irish-born youngsters the chance of playing for their country.
Noble actually points to this argument as a reason why he hasn't switched allegiances, speaking to Graham Hunter for the Big Interview podcast (via The Irish Post). It's clear that he has put some thought into it at least (though he did captain England at U21 level at the 2009 European Championships where they lost in the final to Germany). He said:
There are young Irish kids playing well that deserve and would appreciate an Irish cap more than I would. I played through all the age groups as a youth international (with England), went to tournaments and sang the national anthem. But obviously I’ve never got a senior cap.
So for me to turn up to play for Ireland without it having been a dream of mine, and there’s an Irish kid out there who might miss out when it’s their dream to play for Ireland. I couldn’t do that.
Is it somewhat hypocritical to admire Noble for this sentiment, given how proud we are of the imports that represent us on the international stage?
Listen to the full Big Interview podcast with Graham Hunter here.
(The Irish Post)