The Manchester City centre-back is in the Spanish squad for Euro 2020, having previously represented Les Bleus at youth level
Aymeric Laporte says switching international allegiance from France to Spain was not meant as a swipe at Les Bleus or their coach Didier Deschamps, but was simply the best move for his career and his golden chance to play at a major tournament.
The Manchester City central defender was born in France and played for them through the youth levels, including making 19 appearances for their Under-21s.
However, Laporte was never handed a senior cap by the world champions and has instead chosen to represent Spain, being eligible through his Basque heritage.
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What has been said?
Opening up on his decision to represent Spain to Marca, Laporte said national team manager Luis Enrique had got in touch directly about him changing nations, and he had jumped at the chance.
Laporte said: “It is a long story from a long time ago. He called me and told me that he was interested in having me, and wanted to know if I was interested in competing in a European Championship. He told me that it was very feasible that I could play for Spain, and I was delighted.”
He said he had expected backlash, but he was certain that choosing to play for Spain gave him the best chance of reaching a major tournament – something he did as he started for his new country in their opening game of Euro 2020, a 0-0 draw with Sweden.
Laporte said: “It keeps bothering you. You are never going to please everyone. It is a delicate subject, but in the end I have to do what I believe is the right thing. I have always tried to keep the utmost respect for everyone and to play.
“Yes, I do feel comfortable and also very happy. I am in a stage of my life in which I am very happy and I am taking advantage of it. Here I am like a child living his dream. I was looking forward to being here and I’m freaking out every second.”
Laporte said he had been given his family’s blessing to play for Spain, thanks to his ancestors hailing from the Basque region. He was born in Agen in France, and said that the French FA had been surprised when they learned of his decision not to play for them.
He said: “As it was a somewhat delicate subject, I discussed it with my family and told them what my intention was and they understood. They, in a way, saw it very clearly. What Spain has given me, not only now and throughout my career, has nothing to do with France.
“Most of them knew about my situation. Not because of playing for Spain, but because they didn’t count on me in France, only partially. I had been holding out for a long time, waiting for something. Yes, they were surprised because I did not speak about this, but happy because they know what I wanted.”
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