Tammy Abraham, Dele Alli, Alaba … 12 footballers who ditched Super Eagles for other countries
By Victor Akuma
Arguably, if all Nigerian born footballers in diaspora had voted their loyalty for the country’s national team, the likes of Germany, Spain and Brazil would never had been the country’s equals in the field of play.
All over the world lies dozens of players with Nigerian origin, who individually have made names for themselves on the pitch of play. Some of these players left on their own from Nigeria for a favourable atmosphere to play football while others were fortunate enough to have been born overseas by a mixture of a white mum and a Nigerian dad.
Whichever way, these players have shown so much commitment to the game that they have become household names in Europe and beyond.
However, it is saddening that very many of them have decided not to pledge their loyalties for the country of their origin for some known and unknown reasons but have committed themselves to their countries of adoption.
While some have attributed their non-allegiance to the poor handling of things by the Nigeria Football Federation, others simply don’t have any reason to play or not to play for the country.
In this piece lies 12 players of Nigerian origin who never played for the Super Eagles.
Bamidele Jermaine Alli famously known as Dele Alli was born on 11 April 1996, he is an English professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and the England national team.
He was born and raised in Milton Keynes, five joined the youth system at Milton Keynes Don’s at the age of 11 and broke into the first team five years later, during the 2012–13 season.
He signed for Tottenham Hotspur in February 2015 for an initial fee of £5 million, being loaned back to the Dons for the remainder of the season
Kevin Oghenetega Tamaraebi Bakumo-Abraham was born on October 2, 1997, he is famously known as Tammy Abraham. He is an English professional footballer who plays as a striker for the England national team and Premier League club Chelsea.
Tammy in an interview, revealed that he never considered playing for his home country Nigeria at the international level despite being invited severally by the Nigerian Football Federation.
Ross Barkley is of Nigerian decent, his dad is Nigerian of mixed heritage. Barkley was born on 5 December 1993, he is an English professional footballer who currently plays as an attacking midfielder for Premier League club Chelsea and the England national team.
He began his professional career at Everton in 2010. After loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United he became playing regular in their team, playing 179 total games and scoring 27 goals for Everton. He signed for Chelsea in 2018, and has won the FA Cup in 2018 and Europa League in 2019.
David Olatokunbo Alaba was born in Vienna to a Filipino mother (a nurse) and a Nigerian father, a DJ and former rapper. He is an Austrian professional footballer, who plays for Bayern Munich and the Austria national team.
He holds Austria’s record as the youngest player in the senior national team, debuting 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.
Joshua Oghenetega Peter Onomah was born on 27 April 1997 in Born in Enfield, England. He is an English professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Fulham. Onomah has been a regular youth international for England, including winning the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship.
Sheyi Emmanuel Adebayor
Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor was born in Lome, Togo to Nigerian parents and has played for English clubs like Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace as well as French sides Metz and Monaco and Spanish team Real Madrid.
Adebayor was eligible to play for Nigeria but chose to represent the country of his birth. He was voted African Player of the Year in 2008 while playing for Togo.
Born to a Nigerian father and a German mother, Aogo grew up in Oberreut, a suburb in the south-west of Karlsruhe. Aogo is capable of playing either as a left back or as a defensive midfielder.
Nigeria gave him the chance to play for them at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa but on the 5th of January 2010, Aogo announced that he will only play for Germany. He made his national team debut for Germany in a friendly match against Malta in a 3–0 victory on 13 May 2010, playing 79 minutes, before being replaced by Jérôme Boateng. He has been capped for the German national team over 12 times since then.
Stefano Chuka Okaka
Born August 9, 1989 in Castiglione del Lago, Perugia, Italy, to Nigerian parents who later obtained Italian citizenship. Okaka joined the Roma youth system in 2004.
He is currently an Italian International who plays as a striker for Spezia Calcio on loan from Serie A club Parma. After gaining Italian citizenship in 2007, Okaka was selected for the Italian Under-19 side. He made his debut for the Italy U-20 team in 2008, scoring two goals. On 17 November 2009, he made his debut with the Italy U-21 squad in a match against Luxembourg.
In April 2014, Okaka revealed he talked with the Nigeria Football Federation about the possibility of him playing with the Nigeria national football team 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.
Omotoyossi was born in Lagos but chose Benin republic over Nigeria. Omotoyossi started his career in Nigeria, but switched to Benin after the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) slammed a five-year ban on him for allegedly assaulting a referee during a Premier League game between his club, Sunshine Stars and visiting Enyimba.
He left Nigeria for Benin to further his career and he became a household name for the country. The 29-year-old has scored 21 goals in 58 appearances for his adopted nation.
Despite too much pleas for Gabby to switch his allegiance to Nigeria, the former Aston Villa attacker chose to represent England when it was all too clear a future with Nigeria wasn’t brighter for him.
On 20 September 2006, Agbonlahor was called up for the Nigeria U-20 team for the match against Rwanda but turned down the call. He however left the door open to Nigeria but later pledged his future to England.
Oguchialu Chijioke “Oguchi” Onyewu (born May 13, 1982) is an American soccer central defender who currently plays for Charlton Athletic FC. He has also played for clubs in France, Belgium, England, Italy, the Netherlands, and Portugal. Onyewu’s parents moved to the United States from Nigeria to study in Washington, D.C. He made his first appearance for the senior national team on October 13, 2004, against Panama. Onyewu scored his first international goal in the 2005 Gold Cup, nodding home the extra time winner in the semifinal against Honduras, and was later named to the tournament Best XI. He has been capped by USA 64 times.
Maurice Edu, Jr. born April 18, 1986 is an American soccer player who plays for the Philadelphia Union as a midfielder.
A highly touted prospect, Edu was the first overall pick in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft and won the MLS Rookie of the Year Award with Toronto FC. His performances for Toronto earned him international call ups to the United States national team and the attention of clubs in Europe. He signed with Scottish power Rangers, winning the Scottish Premier League three times. Following Rangers’ financial problems, he joined Stoke City; however, failing to make an impact, he spent time on loan with Turkey’s Bursaspor before returning to MLS with Philadelphia.
Edu is the son of Nigerian immigrant parents. His father, Maurice Sr., was a mathematics teacher, and his mother is a chemistry teacher. Edu has three sisters and a brother Reggie Edu.
Sidney Sam, born on 31 January 1988, is a German professional footballer who plays as a forward or winger for Schalke 04. Sam is known for his explosive speed and dribbling style.
Born to a German mother and Nigerian father, Sam would have been eligible to play for the Nigeria national team, but decided earlier on to represent his country of birth. Sam was a German youth national player, starring in Germany’s under-19 and under-20 teams. On 29 May 2013, Sam made his senior international debut for Germany in a friendly game against Ecuador in Boca Raton, Florida. On 8 May 2014, Sam was named to the 30-man provisional squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup by then German national team manager, Joachim Löw.