It isn’t a new thing that there are many players over the years who either didn’t grow in the country or weren’t born in the country, yet played for the Super Eagles of Nigeria. Common names are Alex Iwobi, Troost Ekong, Victor Moses, Calvin Bassey, Leon Balogun, Ademola Lookman, to mention a few.
While they honoured the NFF’s invitation to represent their fatherland, there are other players who rejected the call to play for the Super Eagles of Nigeria. These players were either born to Nigerian parents in those countries or were born in Nigeria but spent their formative years in those countries were naturalized.
Let’s have a look at 10 of those players who rejected Nigeria’s offer to represent the Super Eagles.
Born to a Nigerian father and a German mother, the versatile Aogo who was adept playing as a left-back or defensive midfielder was seen as the ideal choice for the latter position for Nigeria, where the Super Eagles failed to find an ideal player for years.
The versatile player was expected to be part of the Eagles’ squad to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa to the delight of the Nigerian fans. However, he rejected the call and ultimately ended up turning out for Germany —six months after the World Cup in South Africa.
He made his debut for Germany in May of the same year in a friendly match against Malta, and he had amassed 12 caps for the European super-powers. The cultured left-back would later retire prematurely due to injury.
Sidney Sam, born to a German mother and Nigerian father, played for German Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen and was thought to be in line to represent Nigeria prior to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
Former Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi was reportedly interested in handing the midfielder the chance to represent Nigeria rather than Germany where he was born.
Sam had played for the German youth teams but not for the senior national team and was not sure of breaking into the German national team and so was seriously considering Nigeria’s offer, though he would reject the offer.
Sam went on to play five times for Germany’s senior team and was in a 30-man pre-World Cup squad for Brazil 2014 but did not make the final squad for the eventual champions. According to the Schalke 04 star,, he would be happy if he played for Nigeria.
“Looking back I can say I was close to winning the world cup with Germany. Maybe I would have played in it if I had accepted the chance offered by Nigeria.
“My regret yes, but in life when you make a decision you live with the consequences,” Sidney Sam explained.
Nigeria has failed to replace some great defenders over the years, and Ogbonna looked as one to solve that problem. However, he won’t turn out for the Super Eagles. The West Ham United defender was born to Nigerian parents who emigrated to Italy from Nigeria in 1988, settling in the city of Cassino in the central part of the country. He only managed to obtain Italian citizenship only after his 18th birthday.
As a dream come true for many citizens, Ogbonna made his debut for his adopted country Italy in November 2011. It was a friendly match win against Poland, where he came on as substitute; the Azzuris won 2– 0.
Ogbonna was also included in the Italian 23-man final squad for UEFA Euro 2012, but never played in any match during the competition. He finished the tournament with a Silver medal though. He currently plays for West Ham United in England, after playing for Torino and Juventus.
Gabriel ‘Gabby; Agbonlahor
Gabriel Imuetinyan “Gabby” Agbonlahor was born on the 13th October 1986 to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother in Birmingham. Agbonlahor’s ancestry qualified him to play for Scotland or Nigeria at international level, but he chose to play for his homeland of England. In 2006, Nigeria coach Augustine Eguavoen admitted he tried to lure him to represent the country. Eguavoen said he had travelled all the way to Villa Park in Birmingham to talk to the player on the possibility of representing his fatherland but the player looked the other way, without speaking much, not even seeing him
In an interview with Euro Sport in 2006, Gabby said, “I could play for Nigeria because of my dad, but I could also play for England and I’ve already played at youth level up to the Under-20s,” Agbonlahor told the BBC. “I’ve always wanted to play for England seniors and I suppose the Under-21s would be the next step for me.
He ended his international career with just three appearances—zero goals—and could have achieved so much more with the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
Stefano Chuka Okaka was born on 9 August, 1989 in Castiglione del Lago, Perugia, in Italy to Nigerian parents who hail from Onitsha, Anambra State. Okaka later obtained Italian citizenship due to his family gaining citizenship status. Okaka joined the Roma youth system in 2004.
Stefano Okaka has sensationally claimed that he rejected overtures from the Nigeria Football Federation before making his international debut for Italy in their game with Albania in November 2014
“I feel totally Italian. When in May and 20 days ago they called me to play for Nigeria, I said no because I did not feel natural, such as what happened when Conte called me for Italy,” said Okaka to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Okaka made his senior debut for the Italian national team on 18 November, 2014. He came in as a substitute, replacing Sebastian Giovinco in the second half, and scored the winning goal at Sampdoria’s ground the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Bukayo Saka is one of the best young players in world football. Saka is known for his attacking incisiveness and creativity. Bukayo Ayoyinka T. M. Saka was born in Ealing, Greater London to Nigerian parents
The Arsenal wonderkid, who has always been a rare ray of light for the Gunners admitted to dumping Nigeria for England because of the latter’s chances of winning international honors,
Bukayo Saka said he remains incredibly proud of his Nigerian roots and reveals he is a big fan of the Super Eagles.
“I feel like I’m really, really proud of my Nigerian heritage, I always still watch Nigeria’s games where I can, and I wish them all the best and support them all the way. But I’ve seen the process of how England are transforming, and I think in the future they’re going to do great stuff. I feel like it was right for me to choose England”, Saka told Sky Sports, in a 2019 interview.
He has played 18 times for the Three lions, scoring 4 goals, since making his debut in 2019.
Austria’s gain was Nigeria’s loss, as World Class left back David Alaba born in Vienna, snubbed Nigeria for the Austrian National team. He is currently the captain of the side currently coached by former Manchester United Interim coach, Ralf Ragnick.
He was influential as his nation of birth reached the 2016 European Championships. At club level, he enjoyed great success with Bayern Munich, with whom he is a nine-time Bundesliga champion and two champions league medal. He moved from Bayern to Spanish giant, Real Madrid in the just concluded 2020/2021 season.
In his maiden season at the Galacticos, he won both the Spanish League and the Champions League.
Nedum Onuoha was born in Warri, Delta State, but his family emigrated to the UK when he was young. He received his British citizenship at seven and became eligible to feature for England.
Despite this, as a rising star for Manchester City, he was courted by the Nigerian F.A to come play for the Super Eagles.
Onuoha confessed that he was twice approached by different handlers of the Super Eagles four years apart, but the fear of losing his shirt at Manchester City made him snub the three-time African champions.
That dream England invitation never arrived, despite representing England in youth competitions. Looking back at his career, the ex-QPR defender admits he regrets not wearing the famous green-and-white jersey of the Super Eagles.
Dele Alli’s football career might have suffered a dip for some time now but the midfielder was once a hot property which resulted in a tussle between Nigeria and England on which Nation he would represent. Well, we all know the answer; Dele Alli has made 39 appearances for the three lions.
He was born Bamidele Jermaine Alli in Milton Keynes i Buckinghamshire on April 11, 1996, to a Nigerian father, Mr Kehinde Kenny Alli and British mother Denise Alli.
The talented footballer was booed by Nigerian fans in an international friendly with England and Alli made a reply via a tweet.
“I do really understand the feelings of the Nigerian fans but I’am an England player, I’m English. There is nothing I can change about that now,” he tweeted.
Roma Striker Tammy Abraham who enjoyed a good first season spell with the Giallorossi in the Italian capital makes this list. His name Kevin Oghenetega Tamaraebi Bakumo-Abraham is a clear indication of his Nigerian roots
Born to Nigerian parents in Camberwell, London, United Kingdom, Abraham was eligible to play for the three-time AFCON winners and was sounded out by the Nigerian FA, but he decided to play for the Three Lions of England instead, making his debut against Brazil in November 2017.
“[Nigeria] did try to roll out the red carpet and it was flattering but I was pretty set on England,” he said. I see myself as being a long-term England player. That is where my main focus is and I am 100 percent focused on trying to get into that team.” , Abraham said in an interview with The Express Newspaper.
Abraham has made 11 senior caps for the English Men’s team, scoring 3 goals.
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