The Rundown

Top 10 ‘non-British-born’ sporting Brits

The Rundown

View gallery


Samoan-born Manu Tuilagi will make his first appearance for the England rugby team after being selected to start against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.

He is amazingly one of 15 players in England's 45-man World Cup training squad who were not born in the United Kingdom and the issue of 'plastic Brits' competing for England or Britain is becoming an increasingly divisive debate.

Also this week, American born 100 metres hurdler Tiffany Ofili-Porter had to come out and defend herself after being selected for the British team travelling to South Korea for the World Championship later this month.

However, many of Britain's greatest sports stars over the years were actually born outside of the country, and some of them didn't even have a British connection before moving to these shores.

Here are 10 of the best

John Barnes - Born in Jamaica

Barnes only came to England after finishing school in his native Jamaica and began his football career playing for non-league Sudbury Court. It was while playing for them that he was discovered by Watford and he became a legend there before becoming even more of a household name at Liverpool. By the time his career was over he had won 79 England caps.

Graeme Hick - Born in Zimbabwe

Hick was making quite a name for himself in his native Zimbabwe before he even first arrived in England and indeed he was included as a 16-year-old in Zimbabwe's World Cup squad in 1983. He first played county cricket in England in 1984, and with Zimbabwe not a Test playing nation at the time, he decided to declare for England despite the fact that in those days the residency rule meant you had to be in the country for seven years before qualifying (New Zealand offered to take him after four years, which is how long current England wannabes need to wait). He ended up playing 65 Test matches for his adopted country and 120 ODIs.

Luol Deng - Born in Sudan

View gallery

The Chicago Bulls basketball star became one of the best paid British sportsmen in the world after he signed a six-year contract work $71m back in 2008. Deng was born in Sudan and moved to Egypt to escape the Sudanese Civil War before finally being granted political asylum to move to London as an eight-year old. There he quickly excelled at both football and basketball and was invited to play at underage level for England at both sports. However, he elected to move to the States when he was 14 to really properly start his basketball apprenticeship, but he remains a prod Brit. He was granted British citizenship in 2006 and is an ambassador for the London 2012 Games where he hopes to represent Great Britain in what he considers to be his home town.

Zola Budd - Born in South Africa

Budd is one of the most controversial athletes on the list as she was granted rapid citizenship in time for the 1984 Olympics after, ironically some might say in the current climate, a campaign led by the Daily Mail. The middle-distance runner was prevented from competing for her native South Africa due to apartheid. The Olympics proved to be a disaster after her now infamous clash with Mary Decker, but she did go on and win two World Cross-Country titles for Great Britain in 1985 and 86 and she twice broke the women's 5000m world record while representing Britain. However, she got banned after allegedly running a race in her native South Africa (a charge she denied) and after that she decided to return her native land. Once apartheid was lifted, she even went on to compete for South Africa at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic although she was well past her best at that stage and failed to make the 3000m final.

Greg Rusedski - Born in Canada

Rusedski caused huge controversy when he switched allegiance from Canada to Britain just before Wimbledon in 1995. Rusedski had a British mother and his girlfriend lived in the country but many in Britain questioned his commitment to tennis in the UK. However, Rusedski did everything in his power to dispel those doubts. He climbed to number four in the world, reached the US Open final in 1997, and played Davis Cup tennis for Britain for 12 consecutive years until he retired in 2007. He is now well settled in the UK and acts as a tennis pundit for British Eurosport, the BBC and Sky.

Mo Farah - Somalia

When double European Championship gold medallist Mo Farah arrived in Britain as an eight-year-old he couldn't speak a word of English despite his father being English. He was born in Somalia and grew up in Djibouti before moving to London. At school he was obsessed with football but his PE teacher noted his turn of pace on the pitch and steered him in the direction of athletics. Earlier in his career he particularly shone in cross-country running but the stand-out moment of his career came at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona last year when he won gold in both the 5000m and 10000m.

Kevin Pietersen - South Africa

Kevin Pietersen was born and raised in South Africa but he admitted in his autobiography that he turned his back on his country because of a quota system that "positively discriminated in favour of 'players of colour' to fast-track the racial integration of cricket in the country." He added: "Every single person in this world needs to be treated exactly the same and that should have included me." South Africa's loss though has been England's gain. Pietersen, who always held a British passport thanks to his mother, has played 76 Tests and 119 ODIs for England and holds an amazing Test betting average of 49.37. He also had a brief spell as England captain but resigned after just three Tests and nine ODIs following a dispute with England coach Peter Moores.

Mike Catt - South Africa

View gallery

Mike Catt will go down as one of English rugby's greats after winning 75 caps and helping the side to win the World Cup in 2003 but again he probably would never have put on the white shirt if it wasn't for apartheid in his native South Africa. He moved to England after finishing school when he moved to Bath as a understudy to Stuart Barnes and spent 12 successful years there before enjoying a similar productive six year spell at London Irish. He made his England debut way back in 1994 and then in 2007 became the oldest player ever to play in a World Cup final at the age of 36. Already an MBE, he was upgraded to an OBE in this year's New Year's honours list.

Joe Bugner - Hungary

Bugner never reached the popularity of rival Henry Cooper but he was still one of the great British boxers of his generation, winning the British heavyweight title twice and the European title three times. He also went the distance with Muhammed Ali (twice) and Joe Frazier and beat Cooper in this sole meeting. He spent most of his youth in St Ives and Bedford but he was actually born in Hungary in 1950. In the late 50s though his family fled to Britain after the Soviet Union's invasion of the country in 1956. In 1986 he decided to emigate from Britain to Australia and he even won the Australian heavyweight title in the mid-90s despite being in his mid-40s. He currently holds triple nationality between Hungary, Britain and Australia.

Simon Shaw - Kenya

Perhaps the most surprising name on the list - Shaw seems to have been playing for England for forever and come across as English as they come but he actually was actually born Kenya and then spent most of schooling years in Madrid, Spain. Both his parents were English, but he never played rugby seriously until he moved to England when he was 16. Shaw is now 37 but is still expected to be a key figure in England's World Cup campaign which kicks-off in New Zealand next month.
Who have we missed out? Leave your comments below

 Who have we missed out? Leave your comments below

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so that everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Win cash in one day fantasy football contests. Join now!

    Learn how to play

    Contest Entries Entry Fee Prizes Starts (EDT)
    Premier League Cup Round 3 [£1.5K Free] 28548/500000 Free £1500 Saturday 10:00 AM Enter
    Champions League £1,000 Round 16 23/225 £5 £1000 Tuesday 2:45 PM Enter
    Champions League £300 Round 16 60/340 £1 £300 Tuesday 2:45 PM Enter