Danny Welbeck: the villain?
Danny Welbeck’s introduction to the England-Ghana match in the 80th minute was met with a large chorus of boos and jeers from the travelling away fans. Unfortunately for Welbeck, he could not have picked a worse time to make his England debut having just a matter of hours before he declined the opportunity to represent Ghana at International level.
Having chosen to play for the England U-21 squad and at other youth levels, Welbeck’s defence is that it was merely a natural progression to move into the senior squad. So was the reaction of the Ghanaian support a bit extreme? And has Welbeck made a wise career move?
Despite being of Ghanaian heritage, Welbeck was born and bred in Manchester, England. His talent was spotted during his early teenage years by an English club, Manchester United. One can only assume that his native tongue is English much like many of his peers at his club. Considering this it becomes evident to see why he may have felt a slightly closer allegiance to England than Ghana.
But perhaps Welbeck should have also taken into account the less successful international careers of other players of African or Caribbean heritage that have represented England: having turned down Nigeria, Shola Ameobi of Newcastle United FC was a promising prospect but found opportunities to break into the England team hard to come by following his debut. Carlton Cole, of Nigerian and Sierra Leonean descent, appears to have suffered the same fate. Prior to these examples, the likes of Ian Wright and Andy Cole found opportunities to represent England rather restricted, despite the latter being the second-highest goalscorer in the history of the Premier League. In fact, Emile Heskey remains England’s highest capped black striker and was still vastly unappreciated during his time.
In addition, Welbeck plays alongside Asamoah Gyan at Sunderland FC. The pair have forged an impressive partnership this season, amassing a total of 16 goals thus far. One would presume that they could have continued and even developed this alliance for the Black Stars, had young Welbeck opted for Ghana.
It remains to be seen whether Welbeck’s decision may have an adverse affect on his future International career with England. But he is still young and, technically, not ineligible to represent Ghana until he plays in a competitive fixture for the Three Lions. A turnaround in decision appears unlikely, following the reception he was met with. It is his decision, however, and in hindsight of yesterday’s game, perhaps that it is better to save the jeers for the real villains of the game.