Exciting Midfield Starlet To Choose Between England and Germany

Nick DaviesCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2010

COLCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 18:  Lewis Holtby of Germany in action of England during the match between England U19 and Germany U19 at the Weston Homes Community Stadium on November 18, 2008 in Colchester, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Mainz loanee Lewis Holtby has made headlines for all the right reasons in the past few weeks. Five games into the Bundesliga season he has two goals and five assists, and he looks to have a very promising future in front of him.

At only 20 years of age he has yet to receive a full international cap, but he has risen through the brilliant German youth system to the post of U-21 captain.

His parents, an English soldier posted in Germany married to a German woman, give him the option of representing either nation at international level. Based on his form, international football may be on the agenda before long.

Here I'll examine the various factors which will sway his decision.



Holtby is clearly enamoured by the Premier League culture and lists himself as an Everton fan. He has also spoken of his interest in playing in England.

In Holtby's own words he supported England as a child, and playing in the England setup would allow him time training with established world stars like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard as well as his inspiration, Joe Cole.

Another factor is that Holtby will be competing for playing time against the likes of Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller, Mesut Oezil, Marko Marin, Aaron Hunt, Kevin Greusskreutz, and Mario Goetze. The German youth system seems to be especially adept at producing talented attacking midfielders and though the German system calls for three, Oezil is all but guaranteed one, leaving plenty of tough competition for the rest.  




England fans who liked the sound of Holtby joining the setup might well be disappointed by the disproportionally high number of reasons Holtby might pick Germany over England.

First of all, and probably most importantly, all of Holtby's footballing experience is German. He has played lower league and Bundesliga football and alongside that he holds a position of responsibility in the German U-21 setup, showing his talents are recognised by the DFB.

Germany has been widely recognised as one of the best leagues for allowing young players first team football. Footballers are recognised purely by ability and age does not tend to compute. Goetze is only just 18 but an integral part of Dortmund's barnstorming form.

Holtby recognises this and has been quoted as saying, "I have to pay respect to Germany, for what they have done for me, how they have helped develop me. It is a decision I have probably made. But it would be an honour to do both."

Almost directly opposing this is the English team's unwillingness to add too much youth at a time.

Holtby also implied it might be slightly traitorous to play for England having been taught in Germany as well as noting how difficult it would be for a (for all intents and purpose) German to settle into an English dressing room. 




Holtby is the second young German in quick succession to have to make this choice. Aaron Hunt chose Germany for similar reasons Holtby mentioned. While there is an enthusiasm for the Premier League amongst the German youth, most recognise the substantial debt they owe the Bundesliga for the trust they receive from their coaches which develops them into the players they are and react to it with their allegiance to "Der Manschaft."

Indeed Germany's youths are certainly something for England to target, but not by trying to entice them into the English setup, but to organise their own dedicated youth systems like Germany and then sit back and reap the benefits.

It's Germany who struggle to squeeze only three attacking midfielders into their formation, not England. Germany has wonderfully promising defenders and defensive midfielders being snapped up abroad, not England.

Holtby's best chance at international silverware most likely lies with Germany, and he will most likely back the country of his birth and footballing education. It's hard to begrudge him the decision.