Why do Most Footballers Play for Two Different Teams?

This is a question that would have been unthinkable to ask even a decade ago. The transfer market, once an annual affair in which teams could buy players from other clubs, has become the main source of income for many football clubs. Nowadays, it is not unusual for a player to move from one club to other multiple times during his career and even play for two different teams in the same season.

The reason why this has happened is because of one simple fact: money. Football is a highly competitive industry, and as with any industry where competition is stiff, there will be winners and losers. In this case, the winners are the players earning millions of dollars yearly while playing for top-flight clubs.

However, there are also some drawbacks to this system since it can lead to over-investment by clubs who spend millions of dollars on players they hope will improve their chances of winning trophies and make them more money through ticket sales and merchandise sales. This can lead to financial problems for these clubs if they don’t succeed on the pitch or if their star player decides he wants out after just a few months at the club.

Rules that Limit How Many Clubs a Player Can Play For In One Season

Under FIFA regulations, a football player is allowed to be registered with a maximum of three clubs during one season. This rule applies regardless of the country the player has plied his trade in, whether in Africa, Europe, or South America.

A player can only play in official matches for two clubs during the same season. However, if a player moves between two clubs belonging to associations with overlapping seasons (a summer/autumn start as opposed to a winter/spring start), they may be eligible to represent the third club during the relevant season.

However, in order to be eligible for transfer, a player must have fulfilled the terms of his contract with his previous club(s).

Is a Player Allowed to Represent More than One Team in the Same Competition?

A registered player in the FA Premier League can play in the following domestic competitions:

  1. The English Football League (EFL) Cup
  2. The FA Premier League
  3. The FA Cup

A player who has already played for another team in the FA Cup or EFL Cup will not be allowed to represent their new club in that competition during the same season. This is called “cup-tied.”

However, the FA Premier League’s rules on player eligibility differ from those of FIFA, allowing a player to play for more than one club in that competition in a single season.

Effect of Player Transfer Windows 

In 2003, FIFA introduced the imposition of two transfer windows throughout the season. Previously, players could move between clubs at any stage during the season. This restriction meant that a team could not sign a player just before the FA Cup final unless he had been out of action for at least three weeks.

However, for most of the Premier League teams, the first opportunity to play in the FA Cup will be during (or after) the January transfer window. At that time, if they move in January, players will not have played in the FA Cup yet that season and, therefore, will be eligible to play in the EFL Cup.

Does this Concept Stand in European Competition?

Players cannot play in more than one UEFA club competition for different teams during the same season. However, they can play for one club in the first, second and third qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League, then play for another club from the group stage onward.

Clubs may register up to three new eligible players for the knockout stage of a UEFA club competition by the end of the January transfer window.

Players who have played in the UEFA Champions League group stage for one club in the current season can be fielded by another club that is participating in the same competition, as long as they were not fielded in a UEFA Champions League group stage match for another club and are not currently playing for a team that is also competing in the same tournament.

Can Footballers Change Their International Teams?

Can Footballers Change Their International Teams

Under FIFA eligibility rules, footballers may be eligible to play for a different national team (country) than the one they were born into. Changing association is one of the most common reasons for a player to be transferred. Article 9 of FIFA’s Regulations Governing the Application of the Statutes deals with the procedures for changing associations.

In the 2020 update, players are allowed to change their national team allegiance once, but in limited circumstances, they can reverse this change.

In recognition of the complexities of identity that accompany a globalized society, footballers are allowed to change their international team allegiance. Many dual-nationality players feel a strong sense of attachment to both their countries of birth and heritage.

Soccer Players Who Have Played For More Than One National Team

Alfredo di Stefano

Alfredo di Stefano

Alfredo di Stefano is the most decorated player in football history, having won league titles in five countries. The Argentine-born Spaniard played for Real Madrid as they won five consecutive European Cups between 1956 and 1960.

Di Stefano also played for his native Argentina at the 1962 World Cup Soccer Tournament (where he was named player of the tournament) and then represented Spain at the 1966 World Cup (where he scored two goals).

He was voted into FIFA’s team of the century and remains one of only five players to have won the Ballon d’Or three times or more (alongside Johan Cruyff and Michel Platini).

Ferenc Puskas

Ferenc Puskas is one of the greatest players to have played for Hungary. He was born in Budapest on the 25th of April, 1927, and started his career with the youth team of Kispest AC.

Puskas was an extremely talented footballer who played for both Hungary and Spain during his career.

He began playing for Honved (Hungary) at age 15 and went on to play for the senior team when he was 18. He played for them until 1948, when they merged with another team to form Budapest Honved. During this time, he scored 39 goals in 45 matches.

In 1948, Puskas moved to Real Madrid, where he played for 8 years before moving back to Hungary, where he finished his career with Kispest Honved and then retired from football at age 34 due to knee injuries sustained during his time at Real Madrid.

Michel Platini

Michel Platini

Michel Platini is a former French football player, manager, and former president of UEFA. In 1984, Platini was selected to play on the national team by French coach Henri Michel. Platini’s first appearance came in a friendly match against England at Parc des Princes in Paris on the 17th of May 1984.

Platini also played for two national teams. He made 72 appearances for France and scored 41 goals for them. He was also a member of the French national team that won the 1984 European Championships. After retiring from France’s Juventus team, Platini played for Kuwait in a friendly match against the Soviet Union.

Diego Costa

Costa has played for both the Spanish and Brazilian national teams. He has played for Brazil at the Under-20 level and was part of their squad that finished as runners-up to Argentina in the 2007 South American Youth Championship.

He subsequently made his senior international debut for Brazil against Angola in November 2007 but was not selected again by the Seleção Brasileira until October 2010.

In May 2011, Costa received his first call-up to represent Spain at the senior level. He made his debut on the 12th of September 2011 in a friendly against the Republic of Ireland before making his competitive debut against Uruguay on the 10th of October 2011 in FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Thiago Motta

During his career, Thiago Motta has played for Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, among other clubs. The midfielder has also played for two national teams on two occasions.

Motta made his debut for Brazil in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup, playing two games in the same competition. After 8 years with no call-ups, he expressed a desire to represent Italy. As a dual citizen, he was called up by the Italian national team for a friendly against Germany in 2011. He made 30 appearances for Italy and scored one goal.

Footballers Who Switched Their National Teams

Player Name Original Team Switched to
Kevin-Prince Boateng Germany Ghana
Alex Bruce Republic of Ireland Northern Ireland
Nacer Chadli Morocco Belgium
Munir El-Haddadi Spain Morocco
Mario Fernandes Brazil Russia
Ricardo Ferreira Portugal Canada
Jack Grealish Republic of Ireland England

Nationalities that Can Represent Multiple FIFA National Teams

Nationality FIFA Member Teams
American USMNT, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands
British England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Anguilla, Scotland, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Gibraltar, and Montserrat
French France, Tahiti, New Caledonia
Danish Denmark, Faroe Islands
New Zealand New Zealand, Cook Islands
Chinese China PR, Hong Kong, Macau


For most footballers, the move to a new club can come about for a variety of reasons. Some might seek a new challenge in a quest to achieve their goals as professional footballers. Others might feel they don’t get enough playing time and seek to play more frequently elsewhere or want to live in a particular city/region and play for a club based there.

Finally, some are looking for a better chance at winning trophies or maybe earning higher wages at their next club. Whatever the reason, players typically leave their current club when they see an opportunity to do something better elsewhere.