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Why does Ansu Fati play for Spain? Eligibility rules explained | Goal.com


Ansu Fati burst onto the scene for Barcelona as a teenage prodigy, and has now been called up to the Spain squad – playing with flying colours

Ansu Fati has emerged as a starring talent for both Barcelona and Spain at just 17 years of age, and naturally, word has already spread about how he could eventually succeed the talismanic Lionel Messi at Camp Nou.

After breaking through to the Barcelona first team at just 16, he has already caught attention at international level with Spain.

But how come the winger is eligible to don the colours of La Roja? Goal takes a look.

Why is Ansu Fati eligible to play for Spain?

Fati is eligible to play for Spain due to having Spanish citizenship, after his family moved to the country from his native Guinea-Bissau when he was six.

He is therefore able to play for La Roja after being granted Spanish citizenship courtesy of his residency in Spain for 10 years.

The Spanish football association (RFEF) worked with the government to ensure that Fati’s application for Spanish citizenship was a smooth process.

The forward was originally, of course, automatically eligible to represent Guinea-Bissau in international football due to it being his place of birth.

As he did not choose to represent Guinea-Bissau at any level, he was free to register as a Spanish player.

Fati was also initially eligible to play for Portugal by way of his grandparents, who were born in colonial Portuguese Guinea – but chose to play for Spain instead.

He won his first international cap for the Spain Under-21 team on October 11, 2019 not long after he signed his first professional contract with Barcelona earlier that summer.

Fati was a late substitute for Carles Perez in the 5-2 victory against Real Betis in August 2019, making his debut at 16 years and 298 days. He became the second-youngest player to ever make a senior appearance for the club, being just 18 days older than record-holder Vicenc Martinez.

Fati scored his first professional goal for Barcelona in a 2-2 draw against Osasuna six days after his first-team debut, and at 16 years and 304 days, is Barcelona’s youngest ever goalscorer at senior level.

He continued to set and break records at senior level with Spain, receiving his first call-up to La Roja in August 2020 for participation in the Nations League.

He made his full debut for Spain on September 3 and scored his first senior goal three days later in his second cap for the team, netting against Ukraine to become La Roja’s youngest ever goalscorer at 17 years and 311 days.

In doing so, Fati became the youngest ever player to start a Nations League match, beating the previous record held by Wales international Ethan Ampadu (17 years and 357 days).


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