Arsenal starlet Gedion Zelalem has officially become a U.S. citizen, clearing the way for the 17-year-old to represent the U.S. men’s national team, Steve Goff of the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. While the youngster is also eligible to play for Germany and Ethiopia, Goff’s sources claim that Zelalem has told friends and American officials that he plans to commit to the American program.
According to the report, Zelalem is eligible for a U.S. passport through the Child Citizenship Act, a federal law that allows offspring of naturalized parents to also become citizens. Zelalem’s father, Zelalem Woldyes, was naturalized this year. The law only applies to children under the age of 18. Zelalem turns 18 on Jan. 26 -- an approaching deadline that raised anxiety among U.S. supporters and officials, Goff says.
Zelalem moved to the U.S. at age 9 and settled in a Maryland suburb near Washington, D.C. He played one season of varsity soccer at Walter Johnson High School, before moving to London to join Arsenal’s academy full-time.