Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi spent much of his summer holidays back in his ancestral Ghana, and not just to visit family and friends, but to make a “positive difference”. That includes not just donations and PR work, but community engagement as well, and even a meeting with the President of the country, Nana Akufo-Addo to talk about ways to “improve football infrastructure and opportunities for children and young people”.
That all sounds fantastic, and continues the growing trend of young footballers using their power and influence beyond just the football pitch. But as it turns out, the first tangible outcome of Callum’s visit could be him switching from the England national team to Ghana.
The head of the Ghana FA, Kurt Okraku hinted at as much last month, during the 20-year-old’s visit.
“I spoke with Callum before he got to Ghana, and we promised to speak again when we meet in Ghana, we have met, we’ve had discussions that centred beyond playing for Ghana, and he has a crazy ambition of helping kids in Ghana and this is what excites me the most.
“We are looking forward to working with Odoi and his family and many other players who are interested in representing their country. We have a lot of them like that, we are talking to the technical team and the political authorities in getting them to play for Ghana.”
-Kurt Okraku; source: TV3
Hudson-Odoi himself hinted at the potential switch a few days prior to that meeting as well, after not getting a call-up to England for the Euros. In fact, while Callum does have three senior (competitive) caps (all in Euro qualifiers), he hasn’t represented the Three Lions since November 2019.
“I think obviously when you’re young, you have the opportunity to play for England throughout all the years, from under 15 to under 16 all the way up. When they obviously gave me the opportunity to come I was in the country already. It’s something that I already had in my mind, set on already playing for England.”
“So it was the thing obviously choosing Ghana or England, and at the end of the day I said I always had the right people around me who always advise me – what’s right, what’s wrong. England came and I said yeah, let me go and play for my country. But I said Ghana is my home as well, so we’ll see, we’ll see. You’ll never know, so...”
-Callum Hudson-Odoi; source Joy Online
If you’re like me, and were under the impression that players couldn’t switch national team allegiances after making a competitive appearance, you’d be wrong. As it turns out, FIFA changed those rules recently, and now you can switch national teams as long as you have fewer than four appearances (including friendlies), none of those appearances have come at a “final tournament”, and all were made before turning 21. So, Hudson-Odoi certainly qualifies.
Some reports over the past 24 hours have claimed that this switch is now in fact official, though it can’t actually be made official until November 2022 since the rules stipulate that players must wait three years between appearances when switching. As GhanaSoccernet point out, that would make Callum eligible for Ghana just prior to the start of the 2022 World Cup! Perhaps we’ll see him there, with the rest of the Black Stars.