BREAKING NEWS: Mark Noble declares allegiance for France ahead of Euro 2016
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | April 1, 2016
West Ham United midfielder Mark Noble has made the remarkable move to declare himself for Euro 2016 hosts France (11/4 title favourites with Coral) internationally, having discovered his surname comes from a Brittany-born paternal grandfather.
After being snubbed yet again by England, most recently in the friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands, with Danny Drinkwater getting the nod instead, it seems that Noble has finally given up hope of starring for the Three Lions.
Noble additions to bolster Les Bleus’ ranks
With just over two months to go until the Euros, Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps has made no hesitations in hinting that Noble is in his thoughts, especially with midfield arguably being his team’s weakest area.
Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi are world stars, but the 29-year-old would fancy his chances edging out the likes of current squad members Lassana Diarra, Moussa Sissoko, N’Golo Kante and Yohan Cabaye.
Reports in France suggest the former Juventus and Chelsea midfielder Deschamps would be “stupide” not to consider the Hammers clubman, who has been instrumental to the east Londoners’ Premier League top four hunt so far.
Hammer not the only foreign-born France player
While Noble may not be able to speak much French, there are other players in Les Bleus’ set-up that were born outside of the country, including keeper Steve Mandanda and former captain Patrice Evra.
It is said, though, that Noble’s decision to swap allegiances was largely down to the persuasion of West Ham clubmate Dimitri Payet, who himself had recently been overlooked by his nation until earning a recall on merit.
Perhaps seeing Deschamps change his mind on the Reunion-born attacker to bring him back in the squad convinced Noble that he too could be given one more chance to feature on the senior international stage. Payet’s recall paid dividends too, as his superb free-kick in a recent friendly helped France beat fellow Euro finalists Russia 4-2.
Noble French blood runs through midfielder’s veins
The surname Noble is of English, Irish, Scottish and Dutch origin, but is also known to have come from the Burgundy area in central-eastern France and has had many spelling variations such as Noblay, Noblais and Noblet.
In Old French, Noble as you would expect means high-born, distinguished or illustrious, but can also mean the opposite.
The West Ham midfielder’s ancestors most likely moved from Burgundy to Brittany, which is where his grandfather was born and near to British Channel Islands Guernsey and Jersey.
Noble, who recently had a testimonial at Upton Park during the international break, will surely like to get his own back on his country of birth. How satisfying it would be for him if he were to feature for France and knock out England along the way to lifting the European Championship title.