‘I wanted to play in AFCON’ –Bayer Leverkusen and Super Eagles’ star Nathan Tella

Nathan Tella earned his first Super Eagles call-up in November 2023 under the guidance of Jose Peseiro

Bayer Leverkusen forward, Nathan Tella, has revealed his intention to represent the Nigerian national team at the just-concluded 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, as reported by

The English-born player earned a call-up in Jose Peseiro’s squad during Nigeria’s 2026 World Cup qualification ties against Lesotho and Zimbabwe, where he played for 45 minutes in Nigeria’s 1-1 draw against Zimbabwe.

Prior to the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, Tella was included in Peseiro’s provisional squad list but was ultimately dropped from the final 25-man squad selected for the 34th edition of the tournament.

Reflecting on his debut, Tella expressed his joy at the opportunity to play international football for the first time, describing it as a good experience to be part of an international team.

“It was good. I have always wanted to play international football. I never played international football when I was younger. So, for me, it was my first experience to be part of an international team and it was good! It was a good opportunity to play and see what international football was like,” he told DFL digital sports.

Furthermore, the former Southampton forward expressed his disappointment at not being selected for the Africa Cup of Nations, despite his desire to participate.

“In my head, I wanted to play in the African Cup of Nations and I wasn’t called up. I was quite disappointed but then, at the same time, I looked at it as an opportunity to play here,” he explained.

However, Tella sees his exclusion as a blessing as it allowed him to focus on the current Bundesliga campaign, where Bayer Leverkusen leads the standings with 61 points.

“We had four players – obviously Victor Boniface got injured – but if there are four players out, I would have more opportunity and I believe I did. I was able to play more and able to score. Obviously, I was disappointed Nigeria didn’t win it but for my teammate Odilon (Kossounou), I am really happy for him as well,” Tella added.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria are scheduled to play against El Salvador and another team, following the cancellation of their game against Argentina.

It is expected that Nathan Tella could make a return to the team and play a significant role in their upcoming matches after the conclusion of the AFCON tournament.