Still on the euphoria of Nigeria qualifying for the 2018 world cup tournament in Russia, we take a look at players of Nigerian descent who could have represented Nigeria at the biggest stage of them all but opted to represent another country
One cannot fathom what inspired the decision of these talented footballers to adorn the colours of other countries instead of the aesthetically arranged, green-white-green. Whether this happens by dual nationalities, lack of opportunities to impress on the home front or outright decision to represent other countries, Nigeria can boast of a wealthy array of football talents in diaspora.
Let’s take a look at the long list of some talented Nigerian footballers who have never played for the Nigerian national team.
Ikechi Anya is another player of Nigeria descent who plays for Scotland. The 29-year old footballer who also plays as a right-winger for the championship side, Derby County, is a versatile player. His father is a Nigerian research scientist of the Igbo ethnic group and his mother, a Romanian economist. Eligible to represent Romania or Nigeria Anya decided to play for his country of birth, Scotland.
Gabriel Imuetinyan Agbonlahor (born October 13, 1986) is an English professional footballer who plays as a striker for Championship club Aston Villa. Gabriel is another player of Nigerian descent who opted to the English side.
Born to a German mother and a Nigerian father, Dennis Aogo is a German professional footballer who plays as a left back and left wing-back or midfielder for Schalke 04. The 30-year old footballer once revealed in an interview that Nigeria once invited him to play for the national team which he turned down.
”When I heard Nigeria wanted me for the World Cup, I had to really think about it.But I hesitated because Nigerians won’t recognise me as a true African, it’s a totally different culture from what I am used to in Germany.I know many Africans who were born in Europe are now playing for African teams but they are not regarded as locals.Nigeria is not well organised like what I am used to in Germany.I have been to Nigeria once for 14 days and so I knew what I wanted.”
He is an English professional footballer who plays for Premier League club AFC Bournemouth as an attacking midfielder or winger. Born Jordon Ashley Femi Ibe to Nigerian parents, the forward grew up in London and has already represented England at Under-18, U19 and U20s level.
Dominic Iorfa Jnr
Dominic Iorfa Jnr is the son of former Nigerian international Dominic Iorfa. Younger Iorfa (born June 24, 1995) is an English footballer who plays as a defender for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
With his name spelt out in clear Yoruba Language as David Olatokunbo Alaba (born June 24, 1992) is an Austrian professional footballer who plays for German club Bayern Munich and the Austria national team. He holds Austria’s record as the youngest player to play for their senior national team, debuting for them in 2009 as a 17-year-old. He has played in a multitude of roles, including central midfield, central defence, right and left wing, but has since blossomed as a left-back.
Nigerian-born Angelo Obinze Ogbonna (born May 23, 1988) is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for West Ham United and the Italian national team. Angelo joined Juventus in 2015, in an 8.5 million Euros fee. Ogbonna was born to Nigerian parents who emigrated to Italy from Nigeria in 1983.
Surprisingly, Ross Barkley is of Nigerian decent. Born on December 5, 1993, Barkley is an English footballer who plays for Everton and English national team as a midfielder. Barkley was born and raised in Liverpool, his paternal grandfather was Nigerian and that makes him eligible to play for both England and Nigeria. He finally opted for England and has represented them at under-16, under-17, under-19, under-20, under-21 and senior level.
Nigerian-born English footballer, Dele Alli, is one of the promising young footballers in the English Premier League at the moment. The 20-year old professional footballer plays as a midfielder for the Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and the England national team. Just recently his former manager, Redknapp opined that Alli is worth more than Pogba: “I think he’s worth £100m now – if Pogba’s worth £90m, Alli is worth more.”
Who would have thought?
Sidney Sam is a German professional footballer with a Nigerian heritage who plays as a forward or winger for SV Darmstadt 98 on loan from Schalke 04. He is known for his explosive speed and dribbling style. In 2013, the 29-year old player denied Nigeria with his words:
“The 2014 World Cup is still far away but for me it is only Germany that counts. We don’t have to speak about Nigeria. I never really thought about Nigeria and I do not know who invented that. I always wanted to play for Germany and I know I was on the coach’s list. It is a pity, I was often injured but now I am here and want to prove my strengths.”
Chuba Amechi Akpom, 21, is an English professional footballer of Nigerian descent who plays as a striker and centre forward for Brighton & Hove Albion on loan from Arsenal. He has represented England at youth international levels. There were rumours that several distinguished Nigerian football stakeholders, including ex-Arsenal hero Nwankwo Kanu and Amaju Pinnick,the president of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), had attempted to convince the Hale End Academy product to switch allegiance to Nigeria without success.