Everton midfielder Ross Barkley has had to battle with injuries in his relatively short career but the talented playmaker is still considered one of the best in the country. Yet could he join Victor Moses, Shola Ameobi and Victor Anichebe in Nigeria's international plans?
In recent months there have been many cases of English footballers with dual nationalities being asked by the press directly or via speculation just exactly where their international careers lie. The likes of Raheem Sterling, Wilfried Zaha, Jonjo Shelvey and Carl Jenkinson have all been asked the question in regards to their other options in the form of Jamaica, Ivory Coast, Scotland and Finland respectively.
It is nothing new. Tales of how Ryan Giggs and Harry Kewell could have played for England persisted for years; particulary in light of the old England ‘left-wing crisis’.
One national team who certainly have seen this delicate international crossover more than most in recent years have been the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The recently crowned kings of Africa have convinced two former England youth internationals to play for their country of birth in recent years and another who could have represented England always maintained his desire to represent the West African country.
Victor Moses played for England at under-16, 17, 19 and 21 levels but was actually born in Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city. He moved to the UK after the tragic loss of both his parents at a young age and soon found himself one of the most talented young footballers in the country.
However he decided to represent his homeland in 2012 and has since gone on to play 12 games for the club scoring four goals and win the Afcon in South Africa this month.
Shola Ameobi played 20 games for England’s under-21s in the early 2000’s but in late 2009 the Zaria born but Newcastle raised striker announced his desire to represent Nigeria in international football. In 2012 he made his first and so far only appearance for the Super Eagles but is expected to play even more.
Victor Anichebe could also have played for England but the striker, who has recently become a first-team regular at European hopefuls Everton, always maintained he was Nigerian and played for their under-23 side and has also made 11 caps for the country of his birth since his debut in 2008.
Yet he is not the only Everton reared talent who can play for Nigeria as their current shining star Ross Barkley is also part Nigerian. It is obviously a slightly surprising fact to discover, in the same way that Chris Birchall playing for Trinidad and Tobago was, but he confirmed it himself on Everton’s official website:
Interviewer: ‘’Which national teams are you eligible for?’’
‘Barkley: ’England and Nigeria’’
Barkley has recently been released from a loan-spell at Leeds United but his previous form at Sheffield Wednesday was highly impressive and he is still considered one of the top talents in the English game.
He has helped England win the 2010 under-17 Euros and has made four appearances for the under-21 side.
He has not spoken of a desire to play for Nigeria but off the back of recent success the side will be looking out for young talent to come through and sustain that development for years to come.
It could be that Ross Barkley becomes a Super Eagle rather than an English Lion.
Should Ross Barkley play for Nigeria or wait to see if he makes the grade for England?
image: © governmentza