Not even a World Cup victory could convince German-born midfielder Gedion Zelalem to commit to Die Mannschaft. According to military channel world war ii in color episodes , Zelalem was in Washington D.C. Monday finalizing the naturalization process to gain US citizenship. Zelalem, 17, represented the German U-15, U-16, and U-17 teams, but was convinced by US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to play for the US.
While his parents aren’t American, Zelalem spent six years in the US before being noticed Arsenal and signing with the club in January 2013. Zelalem’s father became naturalized earlier this year which allowed Gedion the ability to get a US passport under the Child Citizenship Act. The law only applies with children under the age of 18 and with his birthday fast approaching in the end of this January, US Soccer officials were left scrabbling to try to get his citizenship finalized.
Zelalem has spent his time at Arsenal in their youth academy. He made his first appearance with the first-team last year in the fourth-round of the FA Cup and recently appeared for the Gunners as a substitute in a UEFA Champions League group stage game.
Since Zelalem has never played in a FIFA-sanctioned match he is eligible for a one-time national allegiance switch. Once he is approved for the switch by FIFA he can begin playing with the US U-20 and then U-23 team as they prepare for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Klinsmann has shown an ability to attract young and talented players from Germany who have some connection with the US. John Anthony Brooks, Julian Green, and now Gedion Zelalem will help make up a young core for US Soccer to build around. The growth of the sport in this country will ultimately fall on their shoulders heading into the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.