Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta reveals: I almost went to war with FIFA for chance to represent England
“A Very Spanish Revolution”, hosted by Guillem Balague, is an exclusive round the tapas table interview with Gaizka Mendieta, Mikel Arteta and Hector Bellerin reflecting on their time in England and you can hear it on talkSPORT this Saturday between 5-7pm.
Mikel Arteta says he was almost ready to go to war with FIFA in an attempt to play for England.
Having been overlooked by his native Spain, the midfielder was approached to represent the Three Lions by Fabio Capello in 2010 after completing five years’ residency in the United Kingdom.
Arteta, playing for Everton at the time, was keen on the idea but it was eventually sunk by an obscure FIFA law.
Reflecting on the episode, the Arsenal captain said: “They did call me. Fabio Capello approached David Moyes when I was at Everton and I spoke to them and I was really thinking about it but there was a law at that moment and UEFA, or FIFA I think it was, didn’t allow this and we had to take it to court and it was a big hassle.
“I was half ready to go to war but in the we decided that to challenge FIFA was going to be a big story and as well my aim was always to play for the Spanish national team. At that time I was still hopeful I might get the call.”
Arteta never did get the call for Spain, a surprise to many given the impressive career he has enjoyed in the Premier League with both Everton and Arsenal.
But the 34-year-old, who could hang up his boots this summer to pursue a career in coaching, harbours no grudges.
He said: “There were three times when I thought I was very close [to a Spanish call-up] and two occasions I was injured, and there were some comments from the national team to wish me all the best and tell me I was very close to joining [them].
“But, again, I have that regret but I completely understand why I haven’t been [called up] because they have had some fantastic, and probably the best midfield of any generation ever. I accept they are probably better than me, it’s very simple.”