As quietly as you can report a story that a Premier League starlet could be finding his way into the red, white and blue of the USMNT, The Washington Post reported that Gedion Zelalem was in the United States to become a naturalized citizen this weekend.
Zelalem, 17, surprisingly turned down a call-up to the Germany U-17 team in late March, and Stephen Goff reports that Zelalem was set to pick up his US passport.
At the time, Arsenal said Zelalem withdrew in order to concentrate on his work with the club’s under-21s. That may well have been true, but international eligibility also seemed to have played into the decision.
Zelalem is eligible for a U.S. passport through the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which “serves to facilitate the acquisition of U.S. citizenship of the foreign-born children of U.S. citizens – both biological and adopted – who did not acquire citizenship at birth.”
In other words, because he is under age 18, he would automatically become a citizen when his father becomes a citizen. His father, Zelalem Wolydes, was a medical technician in the Washington area, and despite joining his son in London, maintained U.S. permanent residency. At some point, he began pursuing citizenship. His application has apparently been approved, and both arrived in Washington in recent days to finalize the process.