It is no longer news that Alex Iwobi has rejected the has rejected the chance to represent the country of his birth, England for Nigeria.
While that has been met with mixed messages, there are indications that Nigerians are open to seeing what the Arsenal loanee can do when he pulls on the green of Super Eagles.
Sequel to a previous article on footballers who rejected Nigeria, Naij.com sports brings out part two of footballers who rejected to become legends of the Super Eagles ahead of Nigeria’s 55th birthday.
1. Nedum Onuoha: The 28 year old plays for Queens Park Rangers and almost represented Nigeria as far back as 2007 when he was called up to the Super Eagles but he rejected the offer. He has however opened the door for a future call up.
Back in 2012, Nigeria-born Onuoha declared that he is under pressure to decide his international future for the country of his birth but is still holding out for an England call up.
He said: “The feeling I get when I’m watching Nigeria is different to the feeling when I’m watching England.”
“But then also, I’ve lived my life here, I feel privileged to play here. It’s hard for people to understand. I was born in Nigeria. There’s a lot of pressure to play for Nigeria from some of my older relatives.
“I want to make a decision when I’m playing well enough to be considered by England too.”
2. Ogechi Onyewu: USA defender, Onyeawu is currently a free agent and has earned himself 69 caps. He represented USA at the 2006 and 2010 world cups.
He is the only male defender to win the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award since Alexi Lalas won the award in 1995.
3. Adebayo ‘the beast’ Akinfenwa: The beast is the strongest footballer in the world according to FIFA. The 33 year old was born in Islington, London to Nigerian parents.
Akinfenwa reportedly weighs around 16 stone (101 kg) and can bench press 200 kg, almost double his own body weight.
4. Ikechi Anya: 27 year old Ikechi Anya plays for Watford and the Scotland national team. Eligible to represent Romania, England, Scotland and Nigeria, Anya decided to represent Scotland. He has scored two goals in seventeen appearances.
As his name suggests, Anya is Igbo from his father’s side while his mother is Romanian but refused a call-up for Nigeria by choosing to represent the land of his birth.
5. Nathan Delfouneso: Nathan Abayomi Delfouneso is a 24 year old striker who plays for Blackburn Rovers. His mother is Nigerian and is still young enough to force his way into coach Sunday Oliseh’s thinking.
6. Denis Aogo: Twenty eight year old Aogo plays for Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga as a left-back or left midfielder. Born to a German mother and a Nigerian father, Aogo grew up in Oberreut, a suburb in the south-west of Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg.
In 2000, when his parents split up, he moved with his father to Bruchsal and left Karlsruher SC to join Waldhof Mannheim.
On Wikipedia, Aogo’s international career reads thus: “Aogo was a member of the German U21 squad. Due to FIFA regulations at the time he was prevented from representing the Nigeria national team having earlier represented Germany at youth and at age group levels.
“But in a recent development football’s world governing body FIFA have removed the age limit for switching of nationalities, meaning that Aogo could have represented Nigeria. However, after turning down several invitations by the Nigerian Football Association he declared his desire to continue representing Germany as he sees a good chance to earn a place in the German senior squad in the future.
“However, the homeland of his father Nigeria wanted to call him up for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa as Shaibu Amodu watched him for a considerable time but on 5 January 2010 Aogo announced that he will only play for the Germany national football team.
The defender has 12 caps for Germany already.”
7. Stephano Chuka Okaka: Twenty six year old, Okaka has one cap and one goal for the Italian national team. Okaka was born in Castiglione del Lago, Umbria, Italy to Nigerian parents who later obtained Italian citizenship
In April 2014, Okaka revealed he was in talks with the Nigeria Football Federation about the possibility of him switching allegiance to his parents’ country and play with the Nigeria national football team already at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
However, Okaka was included in the Italy squad for their friendly against Albania on 18 November 2014 by manager Antonio Conte. He made his debut as a substitute, replacing Sebastian Giovinco in the second half, and scored the winning goal at Sampdoria’s ground the Stadio Luigi Ferraris
8. Innocent Emeghara: Born in Lagos in May 1986, twenty six year old Emeghera moved to Switzerland at the age of 13 (two years after his mother), and started playing football as a means to “cope with the language barrier and cold temperatures”.