International soccer has changed. The eligibility criteria got softer, enabling players who already represented a country switch nationality. Richairo Zivkovic, for instance, had played for the Netherlands' youth teams before deciding to represent Curacao at the senior level.
Born in Assen on September 5, 1996, the Emmen striker had played for the Oranje's U-19, U-20 and U-21 teams. Zivkovic, however, has always had the opportunity to play for two other national teams due to his family's origins.
Serbia were one of them, but the Concacaf nation ultimately convinced him to join their ranks. The timing is no coincidence, as Zivkovic admitted feeling attracted by the possibility of playing against Lionel Messi's Argentina in this window.
Curacao player admits facing Messi was a factor in giving up on the Netherlands
"I used to have in mind an international career with the Oranje or Serbia, but I'm afraid that's not feasible at this moment. Meanwhile, Curacao kept on asking. However, since I used to live abroad, I opted to rest during international breaks. But now that I'm once again living in the Netherlands, when Curacao approached again I thought: 'You know what? I'll just do it.'," Zivkovic told Dagblad Noorden.
"Of course, that's also a reason to accept the invitation," he said in regard to Curacao's upcoming friendly against Messi and company. Additionally, Zivkovic joked about claiming revenge on Argentina for their victory over the Netherlands in the 2022 World Cup. Curacao will play against the reigning world champions on Tuesday, March 28, at Estadio Madre de Ciudades in Santiago del Estero.