Yunus Musah says the chance to "change the view of American soccer" convinced him to declare for the US national team amid a battle across countries for his international allegiance.
Valencia midfielder Musah was eligible to represent the USA, England, Italy or Ghana at international level and, having won his first USMNT caps late last year, opted to commit to America ahead of this month's friendly matches against Jamaica and Northern Ireland. Born in New York City, Musah is eligible to play for Ghana through his father, and having spent his early years in Castelfranco Veneto before moving to London at the age of nine he could also have declared for England or Italy.
The 18-year-old said the chance to represent the hosts at the 2026 World Cup was "a big thing for me" and he is joining a setup that looks to be building impressively for that tournament on home soil with the likes of Sergino Dest, Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna among the stars who should be entering their prime years in five years' time.
"It was a mixture of things," Musah said on what swayed him towards America. "If you're looking for specifics, I'm really into the project we have of building this new team, this new identity and trying to change the view of American soccer in the world. That really inspired me and was one of the things I really wanted to be involved in."
Asked what it was like to be recruited by so many nations, Musah added: "It was definitely different, it's not something that normally happens. Not many people have a lot of different nationalities, you know? A lot of times players play for one. For me it was hard at the beginning having so many different people trying to convince me to play for them.
"I was convinced after the first camp, after I spoke to Gregg [Berhalter, US head coach] and Nico [Estevez, his assistant]. In the end I thought it was the best decision for my career.
"It was a really happy day [when it was announced Musah had declared for the USA]. The US made me feel really special, really welcomed and one of their own... I don't feel like someone coming from the outside anymore. I feel like part of us, part of what we're doing. I feel like part of the team already. The rest of it is quite clear from the beginning, from November. We have the same goals, that never changes. Game by game we're working, trying to grow."
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Musah, who has won much admiration at Valencia and beyond for his 'adaptability and hunger', was part of England's youth setup and it was the Three Lions who came closest to beating USA to his services with head coach Gareth Southgate publicly stating a desire to involve the youngster even after his USMNT debut in November.
Having only played in two friendly fixtures so far the Valencia midfielder would be allowed to switch back to England the most recently updated FIFA statutes which allow players to declare for a new nation provided they have played in no more than three competitive matches prior to their 22nd birthday and not featured in the World Cup or confederation tournament. However now that Musah has made his commitment he does not have any intention on changing at a later date even if there were further flexibility in the future.
"It would be awesome from a personal point of view [to be able to switch at a later date] but it wouldn't be right for the nations," he said. "You work together to reach your goals and usually the tournaments come every four years, every two years and you prepare a long time until the tournament.
"I'm sure the coaches would like to know what team they'll have for the competition, it wouldn't be fair on them to be switching like football clubs."