Down the years, there is a long conveyor belt of players with Nigerian roots who have opted to play for the Three Lions of England over the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The likes of John Fashanu, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Nedum Onouha, and more recently, Dele Alli and Jordon Ibe have refused to honour the call to don the green and white of Nigeria and instead pitched their international career tent with England.
To be fair, it is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to see the reason why it might be a better idea to play for the Three Lions rather than the Super Eagles. For starters, the structure of the round leather game in England is head and shoulders ahead of that of Nigeria. Pitches are better, organisation is better, and players don’t have to worry about such things as getting dumped while injured on national duty or such trivial things as match bonuses or unruly administrators.
However, there seem to have been an upturned of fortunes, in terms of getting players to commit their international future, for Nigeria in recent times with the capture of young players like Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Troost Ekong, Leon Balogun and Kelechi Iheanacho who have all pledged their future to the Eagles and are seen as the team’s core.
One player who has however reignited the debate over whether he should play for Nigeria or England is Everton youngster, Ademola Lookman who is currently the subject of a row between the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the English FA.
According to reports, the English FA has accused the NFF of pressuring the England-born player to play for the Super Eagles of Nigeria. The attacker has played for the English youth team, but he’s eligible to play for Nigeria’s senior team.
Representatives of the 19-year old Ademola were said to have met with the officials of the NFF and Ademola looked to be interested in switching allegiance to Nigeria and playing for the Super Eagles.
The English FA are however unhappy about the NFF using all means available to lure Ademola to play for Nigeria. Which include using close family members of Ademola, who are putting pressure on the wonderkid to choose Nigeria over England. Also, a member of England U-20 back room staff has cried out over the plans of Nigeria to snatch Ademola Lookman from England using close family members of the Everton star.
It was gathered that Ademola Lookman will be meeting with Super Eagles coach and master-tactician, Gernot Rohr this week to finalise talks, after which an official announcement would be made on who Ademola wants to play for.
Given recent experience, it is sure that Gernot Rohr won’t slack on this. He surely has the knack for cajoling young players and win them over.
Also, reports say that Ademola’s father is in full support of his son playing for Nigeria, as he is a big fan of the Super Eagles, but would let his son decide his international allegiance.
It is safe to say that the NFF must be alert and must be prepare to do extra if they are to win Lookman’s allegiance. Going by the amount of interest the English FA has shown in getting Lookman to play for England, it is clear that there must be something special about the kid.
The English FA is known for getting their way when they really want their man. It would be recalled that they were able to convince Dele Alli to pledge for England even when Nigerian football authorities have already made it clear they wanted him.
Gernot Rohr and the NFF must work closely together in the bid to lure Lookman for Nigeria. Rohr is already working assiduously to put up a compact, high-flying, superb and young Super Eagles blended with the mix of experience and Lookman, surely, must be a part of this set-up.
Rohr should be allowed to woo Lookman by letting him into his plans and even recruit the help of Alex Iwobi and Kelechi, who could regale himof the perks of playing for Nigeria, in order to win him over.
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