Leicester City winger, Ademola Lookman has requested to switch his nationality from England to Nigeria to enable him to play for the Super Eagles. The 24-year old had represented England at u-19, u-20 and u-21 levels but remains far away from a senior call-up.
As his name implies, Ademola Lookman is of Nigerian descent and qualifies to represent the country through his parents. And as is almost always the case with English/Nigerian footballers, England is the first choice.
The choice between England and Nigeria
As recently as last year, having just joined German side, Leipzig, Ademola Lookman reiterated his desire to play for England. It’s no surprise that he’d prefer to represent the country of his birth, where he’s lived all his life.
But at some point, you have to wonder if the preference for England is out of allegiance to their birth country or simply because they consider the Three Lions more attractive than the Super Eagles.
It’s a question worth asking because these English/Nigerian players seem to be eager to represent Nigeria only when it becomes obvious that England isn’t interested in their services.
Almost every English/Nigerian footballer has been faced with this choice at some point in their international career. Take a trip down memory lane at the players who did choose Nigeria, how many could realistically play for England?
The Super Eagles now have leverage
Some years ago, a player like Ademola Lookman declaring for Nigeria even as a second choice would be huge. But times have changed now, Nigeria is no longer a safety net for players rejected by England.
Even more so for forward players like Lookman because the Super Eagles now have an embarrassment of riches in attack.
So much so that players like Terem Moffi and Taiwo Awoniyi amongst other top consistent performers in mainstream Europe have struggled to lock down a spot in the Super Eagles team.
That’s not to say Ademola Lookman doesn’t deserve a Super Eagles callup though, he’s having a decent season at Leicester. The point is he would have to wait in line for his opportunity.
The days of Nigeria being the guaranteed source of national team football for English/Nigerian footballers are behind us.
Competition for places in the Super Eagles is almost as high (if not higher) as in the English team. Which means it is no longer enough to just declare for Nigeria and expect an automatic slot in the team.
Ability and desire to play for Nigeria has now become a prerequisite, which was a luxury Nigeria couldn’t afford in the past.