Report: Arsenal teenager Zelalem gains U.S. citizenship

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Arsenal's Gedion Zelalem was in Washington on Monday to finalize the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen.

Zelalem was born in Germany to Ethiopian parents but settled in Maryland’s Montgomery County, where he played soccer for six years. He starred for the Olney Rangers (now a Development Academy program) and moved to Arsenal before he turned 16.

The Child Citizenship Act made Zelalem the child of naturalized citizen eligible to become a U.S. citizen -- as long as he did it before he turns 18. Zelalem’s father, Zelalem Woldyes, became a citizen in 2014.

Zelalem is also eligible for Germany and Ethiopia but he has commited to the USA.  He has trained with both U.S. and German youth teams. His latest call-up was to the German under-17 national team in March, but he withdrew from the squad.

If he had played for Germany in any official competition, it would have ended the chances of his switching allegiances to the USA. FIFA rules only allow a player to switch from one country to another if he was a citizen of the second country when he played for the first country.

His German citizenship allowed him to sign with Arsenal for which he has made one appearance in the FA Cup and another in the UEFA Champions League in 2014. He has yet to suit up for a Premier League game in 2014.
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