Sports

Time for a switch? Olise, Ugochukwu, Adeyemi, other top Nigeria-eligible footballers who missed out on EURO 2024 squad lists

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Several Nigeria-eligible footballers are torn between the cross-cultural decision of the national team to play for. While the decision to represent the nation they grew up/were born in is understood because it played a crucial role in their career development as footballers, others choose to return to their roots.

Their decisions do not guarantee success with whichever national team they end up with but gives them peace and freedom from the constant tug-of-war of being between two or more nations.

Soccernet.ng takes a look at the Nigeria-eligible footballers who have been left out of their country’s EURO 2024 squad list.

1. Karim Adeyemi – Germany/Borussia Dortmund

Famous for his fufu-fueled goal against Chelsea in last season’s UEFA Champions League round of sixteen, the Borussia Dortmund winger has kept his connection to his roots in Ibadan, Nigeria. He has represented Germany on four occasions, accruing 53 minutes of game time. He last represented Die Mannschaft in 2022 when he was 20-years-old, and that leaves a glimmer of hope that he can become a Super Eagles player in the future, with the player also reiterating he’d jump at the opportunity if given the chance.

 

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Karim Adeyemi with his foundation in Ibadan, Nigeria.

2. Tosin Adarabioyo – England/Fulham

The 26-year-old Fulham central defender has been on the lips of big Premier League clubs ahead of a summer move as his contract at the Craven Cottage runs out in June. Tosin represented England at the U-16 and U-17 levels, but two goals in 20 games for Marco Silva’side wasn’t enough to guarantee him a spot in Gareth Southgate’s EURO 2024 squad.

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Tosin Adarabioyo in action for Fulham.

A switch of nationality is not out of the question for Tosin either, as he’s shown his connection to the three-time AFCON winners in the past, including donning a retro Nigerian jersey, and celebrating Independence Day with “fellow Nigerians”.

3. Dominic Ayodele Solanke – England/Bournemouth

Solanke scored 19 goals and provided three assists for Bournemouth in the English Premier League this season, but couldn’t break into Southgate’s trio of Ivan Toney, Ollie Watkins and Harry Kane. Solanke was born in England to a Nigerian father but has represented England at all levels, making his debut in the Three Lions’ goalless draw against Brazil in a friendly back in November 2017. Coincidentally, that has been his only senior appearance for England, making him eligible to play for the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

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Dominic Solanke was brilliant for Andoni Iraola’s side this season.

4. Michael Folorunsho – Italy/Hellas Verona

Michael Folorunsho scored a stunner against Juventus to win the Serie A goal of the month in February, subsequently leading a call-up to Luciano Spalletti’s Italy squad for the March International break. He didn’t feature for Italy during the break and was left out of their star-studded EURO 2024 midfield. A central midfielder by trade, Folorunsho fits the perfect “number 8” profile lacking in the Super Eagles squad. He was born in Italy but is of Nigerian descent.

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Michael Folorunsho in action for Hellas Verona.

5. Michael Akpovie Olise – France/Crystal Palace

France’s Didier Deschamps opted for the likes of Kingsley Coman, Bradley Barcola, Marcus Thuram and Ousmane Dembele as his wingers for the EURO 2024 tournament, leaving the Crystal Palace winger out. Olise has played for France from the U-18 to the U-21 team but is without a senior appearance. On this list, Olise has the most options.

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Olise celebrating after scoring against Manchester United’s Andre Onana.

The left-footed right-winger was born in England to a Nigerian father and a French-Algerian mother and is eligible to represent France, Algeria, England or Nigeria internationally. In 19 Premier League games this season, Olise scored 10 goals and provided six assists. Soccernet.ng earlier reported that Olise is willing to snub Algeria for the Super Eagles, but primarily in a situation where France is no longer an option.

6. Joshua Orobosa Zirkzee – Netherlands/Bologna

Born in the Netherlands to a Nigerian mother and a Dutch father, Zirkzee is eligible to represent Nigeria and is open to the move. After scoring 11 goals and 5 assists to send Bologna to the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 60 years, the striker was not deemed good enough to make Ronald Koeman’s EURO 2024 squad, with the former Everton boss preferring Memphis Depay and Wout Weghorst to lead the line for Les Oranjes.

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Zirkzee celebrating in a Bologna away jersey.

 

7. Lesley Ugochukwu – France/Chelsea

Lesley didn’t have the best debut season with Chelsea, playing just twelve league games due to injuries, but his talent is undeniable. He has played for the France youth team but is yet to get a call-up to the senior team. Didier Deschamps opted to bring N’golo Kante into the team, rather than give Ugochukwu a spot in his 25-man squad.

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Lesley Ugochukwu.

Ugochukwu is the nephew of former Rennes and Nigeria centre-back Onyekachi Apam. Lesley also spent some time in Nigeria when he was injured during the season.