Jamal Musiala is one of the brightest young talents in world football, the Bayern Munich and Germany attacking midfielder impresses for both club and country.
However, things could have worked out very differently for the 20-year-old, with his national allegiance requiring plenty of thought.
Musiala represented England U15, U16, U17 and U21 teams throughout his childhood, as well as the Germany U16 side. During that period he was playing his football for Chelsea in their academy, but his move to Bayern Munich in 2019 saw him return to Germany to live a decade after moving to England.
Having spent the majority of his childhood in England, though, Musiala faced a tough decision when it came to choosing which national team he wanted to represent at the senior level.
“I’d had a tough choice to make,” Musiala explained exclusively to FFT. “I regularly chatted with the people at the FA and the DFB.
“They both made it clear that they wanted me to play for them. It was a difficult decision, as I was born in Germany but most of my memories growing up are in England – both are a part of me. It was an incredible feeling to get my first German cap.
“It felt right pulling that shirt on and representing my birth nation. I knew that I’d made the right decision.”
Musiala made his Germany debut in March 2021 against Iceland, a few months before being selected for the Euro 2020 squad. While his Germany side lost against England at Wembley in the last 16 of the tournament, Musiala did not spend any time thinking that he had chosen to represent the wrong country.
“England were brilliant that summer , but I had no regrets,” Musiala explained. “I still want England to do well and I was so pleased for Jude [Bellingham] and his teammates.
“England has amazing young players and it’s great to see them being given chances to shine. Potential opportunities to play wasn’t something that crossed my mind when making my decision. I didn’t look at which country had the best youngsters coming through and think, ‘Well, I’ll probably get more opportunities to play with Germany’. I chose Germany because it felt right.”
Moving to England aged seven, Musiala faced challenges in having to learn a new language, but it was his football which really helped him to develop relationships with other people at that age.
“My mum was invited to study at Southampton University and we moved over as a family,” he explained.
“It wasn’t easy to make friends at first, but I picked up the language quickly. I enjoyed it and was able to hold a conversation within about six months. I played football with the other boys at lunchtime and that helped me to fit in.
“I was really surprised to see how much football the kids in England played. You’d finish school, then head down the park for a kickabout. Everywhere you look in England, on every patch of grass and street corner, there are kids playing football.”