While most football lovers in Nigeria will be watching Euro 2016 starting from June 10 (Friday) with keen interest due to their player’s affiliation in terms of club football, it is important to inform you that some players with Nigerian descent will be representing their adopted countries in Europe’s biggest football showpiece.
To this end, Nigerianreporter.com, X-rayed the profile of five Nigerian players: David Alaba, Dele Ali, Ross Barkley, Angelo Ogbonna and Rubin Rafael Okotie who should have been representing the Super Eagles at various competitions but opted to represent their adopted countries.
DAVID ALABA (Austria)
A household name for both club and country, David Alaba needs no introduction considering the fact that he has established himself as a prolific player who possesses all the quality that every coach in the world needs.
Having won the UEFA Champions League with Bayern Munich in 2012/2013 where he displayed the prestigious flag of Nigeria and Austria at the Wembley Stadium, Alaba has become a “semi god” in Austrian football as he singlehandedly qualified the team for Euro 2016 with his goals and brilliant assists.
Born to a Filipino mother and a Nigerian father who happens to be a DJ cum rapper, Alaba’s middle name, Olatokunbo means wealth from a foreign land in Yoruba language. And Olatokunbo was said to be keen on representing Nigeria at youth level.
RUBIN RAFAEL OKOTIE (Austria)
Little may be known about this youngster who has taken Austrian football by storm with his pace, trickery skills and sights for goals but Rubin Okotie, who was born in Pakistan to a Nigerian father and an Austrian mother, began his sojourn to football’s greatest pinnacle with the Barcelona youth team; where he enjoyed a great deal of football though with less goals.
Currently playing club football with German second Bundesliga side 1860 Munich, the 28-year-old is eligible to represent Austria, Nigeria and Pakistan but chose to represent Austria, where he will be part of the 23-man squad that will be hunting for glory at Euro 2016 in France on June 10.
Okotie identifies himself primarily as Austrian, stating that “I live there, it’s where I have my friends, and I think of myself as Austrian”
DELE ALLI (England)
Tottenham Hotspur hotshot Dele Alli has Nigerian blood running through his veins. Full name, Bamidele Alli, the supremely talented midfield prodigy regretfully plays for England and not Nigeria. His name means follow me to my house in Yoruba and the name is given to a child born outside their community, state, or country. On October 1, 2015, while Nigerians were marking the 55th anniversary of the country, he made his début for England in an international friendly match.
ROSS BARKLEY (England)
It would be difficult to imagine that Everton youngster, Ross Barkley would be of Nigerian descent, however, the midfielder has Nigerian roots.
Born of a Nigerian father, Peter Effanga and an English mother, Dianne who are now divorced, Barkley’s impressive season with Everton convinced the team’s coach, Roy Hodgson to select him among the players that will represent the Three Lions at Euro 2016.
ANGELO OGBONNA (Italy)
Ogbonna was born to Nigerian parents who immigrated to Italy from Nigeria in 1983, settling in the city of Cassino in the central part of the country, but managed to obtain Italian citizenship only after his 18th birthday.
Playing for West Ham in the Barclay’s Premier League, his defensive prowess caught the attention of national team coach, Antonio Conte, who selected him to represent Italy for Euro 2016 in France.
He was raised with a brother named Eleazar Onyewuchi Ogbonna. He made his senior debut for the Italian National team on November 11, 2011 in a friendly won 2–0 against Poland.