Saturday, September 26, 2020

Chuba Akpom opts to play for Nigeria

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Former England youth international Chuba Akpom says he has now pledged his international allegiance to the country of his parents Nigeria.

The 23-year-old striker who plays in Greece for PAOK is eligible to play for the Super Eagles as he holds dual-nationality and has not played for England at senior level.

In March 2017 ex-Arsenal youth player Akpom trained with the Nigeria senior side at Barnet alongside then Chelsea defender Ola Aina and now hopes to line up with his life-long friend Alex Iwobi for the West African country.

“I’ve only just recently switched my allegiance, so I’ve signed the documents and hopefully in the next few weeks it will be approved to enable me play for Nigeria,” Akpom told BBC Sport.

“I’ve been wanting to do that for many years now but not many people know this. It’s just been a matter of sorting it out, which is now in a process. I’m looking forward to it.

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“It was a personal decision. I’m Nigerian and my whole family feel very Nigerian and it will be nice to represent Nigeria.

“It will also be nice to link up with Alex [Iwobi] again and play for the national team. We started playing when we was younger together and to make that step to play for the national team together will be amazing.”

London-born Akpom scored 18 goals in 41 youth caps for England from under-16 to under-21 level.

He joined Arsenal at the age of six and spent time on loan with Brentford, Coventry, Nottingham Forest, Hull and Brighton, but failed to break into the Gunners’ first team.

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A final loan spell at Belgian side Sint-Truiden resulted in six goals in 16 games and after six different clubs over five seasons, the academy graduate managed just 12 appearances for his boyhood club before heading out to Greece on a permanent deal in August 2018.

He provided six goals and four assists as PAOK went unbeaten to seal the 2018/19 Greek title as well as the only goal in the FA Cup win against AEK Athens to complete a dream double.

Following Iwobi

Now established in Greece and with three goals in eight matches this season, Akpom would love to follow in the footsteps of Iwobi.

“I wasn’t surprised because at the time he wasn’t playing for England, he came out of nowhere and he started playing for Arsenal and from there he just progressed, so I wasn’t surprised when he picked to play for Nigeria,” said Akpom.

“It was the better decision to make, now he’s played in the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations. I’ve always said that I’d like to play with him again for Nigeria, we’ve always spoke about that.

“We’ve played together since we was five and six years old, we grew up together. It took me a while to settle down and to get used to the environment in Greece.

“Going to play abroad and in another league has helped me, but I hope to take my career to the next level with Nigeria.”

Nigeria have previously succeeded in convincing former England-born players like Sone Aluko and Ola Aina to represent the West African nation.

They have also persuaded London-born duo of Josh Maja and Joe Aribo, who plays for Scottish giants Rangers. The latter scored on his debut against Ukraine this month.

His teammate and Liverpool’s loanee Sheyi Ojo also told the BBC that he would love to represent Nigeria if they approach him.

 

 

Source: BBC

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