No one is suggesting we turn a blind eye to a talent who is capable and WILLING to contribute to the development or performance of the Nigeria national team.
No one is against luring or convincing a player or athlete to represent the country.
But in doing this “needful” we must expect the player to also show commitment, determination, hunger, desire and passion to don the national colours.
I mean colours of his fatherland.
It takes two to tango.
If we are stretching hands of fellowship, brotherhood, love and patriotism to a player or players, he or they should also be willing to embrace us.
There are two ways to this issue of bringing in a player. You can request a player to come play for Nigeria just as the player can appeal that he wants to play for his fatherland.
We have witnessed situations whereby a player showed love and passion to play for Nigeria and he did so to the best of his abilities.
He brought and displayed his talent. He was patriotic. He was a star who even motivated others to do more for the country.
Sam Okwaraji showed Nigerians what love for fatherland should be.
I am not talking about slumping on the field of play and dying in the process but being eager to play which led to paying his way severally through flight tickets to join the team whereever and whenever the need arises.
We beckoned on John Chidozie and Tunji Banjo to join the then, Green Eagles they also wanted to and they did.
They showed class as true professionals and of course they contributed in building the team of that era.
We have begged many others who turned us down for several genuine and inexcusable reasons.
They failed themselves in the process but we moved on as a country bigger than ONE and ANY INDIVIDUAL.
We went ahead to feature in four World Cups without them even at a point some of them were red hot.
Tammy Abraham is not red hot at least at the moment and Super Eagles are whiskers away from flying into Russia.
We have also had players who didn’t give a damn about Nigeria.
They represented other countries and excelled, others are still excelling.
Bottom line is we don’t have to beg a player or assure him of a World Cup or AFCON shirt to play for Nigeria.
We didn’t beg our best forward of all time, Rashidi Yekini to score assuredly the goals leading to USA ’94.
We didn’t beg Nwankwo Kanu to be the Golden Boy of Atlanta ’96 Olympics conquest.
It is instructive to note that players who have done the country proudest in football were homegrown talents.
Yes, they may have gone abroad to take up professional careers which surely improved their performances but at least they showed the stuff before attracting foreign suitors.
From Stephen Keshi to Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha to Emmanuel Amunike to Victor Ikpeba to John Obi Mikel …We can go on and on.
This however is not imply that we take our eyes off the likes of Victor Moses, Leon Balogun and William Troost Ekong among others who are WILLING and HUNGRY to play for Nigeria despite not being homegrown.
WE BEGGED THEM
CHOICES OUTSIDE ENGLAND
●Sheyi Adebayor (Togo)
●Emmanuel Olisadebe (Poland)
●Oguchi Onyewu (USA)
●David Alaba (Austria)
●Angelo Ogbonna (Italy)
●Dennis Aogo (Germany)
●Partick Owomoyela (Germany)
●Stefano Okaka (Italy)
We must make our football a beautiful brand, packaged to a world class standard.
Our FA, domestic League and national team must be of world class.
Create an environment for the right persons to run football.
Partner with the private sector. Attract investors into our football particularly the League.
Pay and treat players like profesdionals. Pay match officials indemnities.
Stop playing politics with our football by zoning league trophy and FA Cup winners Stop interference in coaches jobs…and we will have a better national that will attract the best from within and outside our shores.
Written by Desmond Ekwueme
This article does not represent our opinion on the matter of scouting players for the national teams.