“If Ireland had come to me first, I definitely would have gone for Ireland. I definitely had an affiliation with Ireland. We were brought up that way.”
Trevor Sinclair played 12 times for England at senior level between 2001 and 2003, and he was part of the squad that reached the 2002 World Cup quarter-final. However, the former West Ham United winger could have been lining out for another national team at that tournament.
Sinclair was eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland through his mother, who was from Sligo. Sinclair retained strong links to Ireland and said that if the Boys in Green had approached him before England, the country of his birth, he would have opted for Ireland.
Trevor Sinclair: I wish I had played for Ireland.
“We still go [to Sligo] now. My mum passed away 10 years ago and it’s something that we try and do just as a family,” Sinclair, who was born in London and grew up in Manchester, told Off the Ball back in 2017.
“We’ve got family in Boyle and we also love going to Dublin, I love the atmosphere there. I actually played against Ireland for England Under-21s.
“And I kind of thought [that I had] probably chose the wrong national team. Because after the game, we’d beaten Ireland 2-1, in the players’ lounge you’ve got aunties, uncles, cousins, grandmothers and second cousins.
“The lads actually left me behind! I was enjoying the company and talking to all the different people so much that I didn’t even realise that the team had left, the coach had gone, and the flight had left. I ended up staying in Dublin that night. Great times and I’ve always enjoyed going to Ireland.”
Ex-England winger Trevor Sinclair: Ireland tried to get me on board for the 1994 World Cup.
Sinclair went on to say that Jack Charlton, Ireland manager between 1986 and 1995, attempted to get him to join up with the Boys in Green for the 1994 World Cup. Sinclair, however, was unable to switch allegiance as Fifa rules meant players could not switch countries after representing another nation at Under-21 level.
The former Manchester City winger joked that Ireland were stuck with Jason McAteer instead. McAteer went on to score some famous goals for Ireland, while Sinclair played for England at the 2002 World Cup, so it worked out well for all parties.
“If Ireland had come to me first, I definitely would have gone for Ireland. I definitely had an affiliation with Ireland. We were brought up that way,” Sinclair said.
‘There was an inquiry from Jack just before the 1994 World Cup. I’d had half a season at QPR and there was an inquiry that came in from Ireland to see if I was available for the full team. Unfortunately, that ship had sailed.
“But I’m sure if I had got that opportunity to play with the greats like Paul McGrath and Chris Hughton, I would have definitely jumped at it… You got McAteer instead!”
(Originally published on June 23, 2021).