Later that day a white working class youth who has problems in articulating his feelings happened to drop into a press conference the line that 'the only people who should play for England are the English', the last person to utter a similar phrase publicly was Morrissey who promptly found himself declared the 'most hated man in Britain'. Wilshire's utterances brought forth an online spat with a well known cricketer Mr Kevin Pietersen, born in South Africa to English ancestry and opened a whole can of worms and a sense of deja vu as the debate about what constitutes being an Englishman (or woman).
It was interesting listening to Darren Gough on Talksport. Gough, a man who poilitically is Conservative with a very large C said that until recently he would have thought that the only people who should play football for England were those born here. It was an interesting demarkation, Gough of course was Pietersen's best man at his wedding and KP is the poster boy for English crickets rainbow nation. Then Gough expanded his line of thinking, now as I have said before Gough can be articulate if a little slow witted and he said, "my mind has changed, I mean you only have to look at the streets of London to see how many........," he was cut-off mid sentence, on a live broadcast - so either the broadcast was delayed or the editor has the reflexes of a bat!
Perhaps what Wilshire really meant was that the English football team shouldn't be looking to recruit waifs and strays who pitch up here simply looking for a quick route to international disappointment. The cricket team is often cited as an example of how players can play (no pun intended) the system - Jonathan Trott is of English descent, Andrew Strauss is of English descent, Matt Prior's father is English, KP's mother is English - so in those cases you could argue that they would all pass the old BNP 1948 question. The current TDF holder Chris Froome was born in Kenya but his grandparents were English, Bradley Wiggins was born in Belgium but raised in England and has English ancestry and of course Mo Farah, despite being black and a Somali refugee has lived here since childhood and has a British father.
What was intriguing was listening to the reaction of various callers to Talksport on this subject, a young man from Bangladesh who has lived in England most of his life said he had no feelings for Banglasdesh and would love to play for England, an Arsenal supporter born in this country to Irish parents said he would never dream of competing for England, he was born into an Irish family and considered himself to be Irish.
Being English is a matter of luck, it really is that simple, but it brings with it a tangible sense of national pride. We might be seen as a nation overladen with irony, self-deprecation and an inherent desire not to grumble and to form orderly queues but we are proud of that. If you are born outside of the U.K to British parents who are overseas simply as a result of circumstance (see Terry Butcher and Sir Cliff Richard) I don't see a problem, after all nobody ever referred to John McEnroe as German. What I can't do however is cheer on any team, regardless of what sport, where one or more of the team members are there simply because they have lived here as an adult for a prescribed number of years simply to gain international recognition, it doesn't make sense morally.