For various reasons, several recent notable players have declined national team call-ups for international games.
As another international break is upon us, clubs were required to release their players for national duty. The European teams will be playing for the remaining EURO 2024 qualifying matches. In the meantime, the South American sides have already started their World Cup 2026 qualifiers, as have some of the Asian teams. They are in progress in the first round of World Cup qualifiers. Meanwhile, CONCACAF is still in progress of completing their Nations League.
Being called-up for international duty certainly is one of the moments of pride for footballers, especially when they are named in the squad for prestigious tournaments such as the European Championship or the FIFA World Cup. However, some players have decided to turn it down for a number of reasons, ranging from common ones like injuries to personal ones. Here are some of those who surprisingly have taken such an unbelievable decision to reject the call-up. One of them has played World Cup final.
Top footballers who have rejected international call-ups
The current Real Madrid star once also turned down the call up by request in October 2021 for the 2022 World Cup qualifying round. Bellingham said that felt that he needed a break due to the congested fixtures. Fortunately, the England boss Gareth Southgate understood the situation he went through. The former Borussia Dortmund man eventually got a nod for the World Cup squad because of his consistent form throughout the season. He has been a mainstay for The Three Lions ever since. The 20-year-old midfielder has been capped 26 times so far.
Liverpool’s new signings this season rejected the call-up for the U21 team in the previous international break in September. He believed that he needed to focus on adapting to his new team as the Dutch midfielder sealed a move to Anfield on a deadline day summer transfer. However, his decision left De Oranje boss, Ronald Koeman, fuming. The former Barcelona manager does not like Gravenbech’s idea of refusing to play for the U21 side. The Bayern Munich loanee is currently left out of the squad for the upcoming EURO 2024 qualifying fixtures despite having earned 11 caps with the senior Netherlands national team.
The Italian midfielder also snubbed the call up for Gli Azzurri under the new boss Luciano Spalletti for EURO 2024 qualifiers last month due to lack of minutes playing time in Luis Enrique’s PSG. Such led to his move to Qatari side Al Arabi after the Spanish boss left him out of the Champions League squad. Sadly, his decision to ply his trade in the Middle East cost his chance to play for Italy in Euro qualifying. Verratti once again misses out being named in Spaletti’s latest squad for the current international break. He has been capped 55 times for Italy and contributed well when they lifted the EURO trophy in 2021.
Last year, Arsenal forward, snubbed the Ghana call-up for the 2022 World Cup squad, despite his eligibility. He was still hesitant to switch sides to Ghana at that time before eventually sticking to England. It was a wise choice as Nketiah has received another call-up recently due to his constant positive form at his club. Nevertheless, the 24-year-old striker has yet made his senior debut for The Three Lions.
The French midfielder once also made a bold decision while rejecting the national team call-up for the standby list in the 2018 World Cup. The current Juventus man seemed to be disappointed for being left out of the final squad. Such led to the criticism from FFF President, Noel Le Graët.
Luckily, that did not affect his future in the squad. Due to his great form with La Vecchia Signora in 2021/22 plus the first half of the 2022/23 campaign before Qatar 2022, Rabiot was eventually included in the world cup final squad. The former PSG man even became the key figure throughout the tournament by registering one goal and one assist in six games.