Manchester United midfielder Tosin Kehinde has decided to represent Nigeria at international level despite being eligible to play for the English National team at all level.
The 19-year-old, who was eligible to play for England, was photographed shaking hands with Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr ahead of their London friendly with Serbia last week and confirmed his choice to represent the Super Eagles.
“Nigeria has always been a part of me,” United academy graduate Kehinde told the BBC.
“I was born there. My whole family are Nigerian. I come from a very strong Nigerian background so the influence has always been around me.
“When you are growing up, when you see players like Jay Jay Okocha, how good he was and the current crop of players such as Alex Iwobi and Super Eagles captain, Mikel, the desire to get the opportunity to play for Nigeria has always been there really.”
Kehinde trained with the United first-team earlier this season and has started 15 times for the Under-23s in the Premier League 2.
His strike at Chelsea in September was nominated for the club’s goal of the month competition.
“I hope to play in the first-team, that’s every player’s dream and my dream also,” Kehinde added. “The manager’s continued belief in the youth and giving people opportunity has made me feel that if I keep working hard maybe I can get the opportunity as well.”
Kehinde played with Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe and Timothy Fosu-Mensah in the Uefa Youth League two seasons ago before he was promoted to the Reserves
A Nigerian has never played for the United senior side. Sir Alex Ferguson signed John Obi Mikel from Norwegian club Lyn but the move was cancelled amid competition from Chelsea, who agreed to pay United £12millon.
United manager Jose Mourinho has given debuts to academy graduates Joel Pereira, Axel Tuanzebe, Scott McTominay, have all trained with the first-team or made matchday squads.