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“I never really felt Dutch” – AFCON 2023 Player of the Tournament reveals how his journey with the Super Eagles started

Captain of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, William Troost-Ekong, has revealed how much of a role former Stephen Keshi played in his switch from the Netherlands, Soccernet.ng reports.

The 30-year-old debuted for the Super Eagles in 2015 under Stephen Keshi after a decent season with Groningen. He was born to a Nigerian father and a Dutch mother, in the Netherlands.

Ekong played for the Netherlands U-19 and U-20 teams before switching to represent his Father’s side. Speaking on the hindsight podcast, the Super Eagles captain revealed how the journey to discover his roots started.

“I identified with Holland throughout my teens. I never really felt Dutch because my skin is not the same as theirs even though I’m light-skinned. In the same way, when I came back to Nigeria, my father stayed in Ikeja, they always said see oyinbo. So I think it was like a search for identity, so when I was about 18, I felt like I wanted to know a bit more about my roots. I always wanted to play for the Super Eagles but it felt intangible at the time,” the Greek League Champion said on The Hindsight Podcast.

The Late Stephen Keshi won the 2013 AFCON with the Super Eagles as a coach, and Ekong revealed that the legendary coach was a core part of why he opted to play for Nigeria.

“I wanted to play for Nigeria. After my first debut season in the Eredivisie, Stephen Keshi called me, out of the blue. I looked at my phone about five times just to be sure it wasn’t a prank call. We got talking and he told me he liked what I was doing, and he told me he wanted me to join the Super Eagles, and I said yes. He asked if I wanted to tell my parents about it, but I told him I couldn’t wait and that’s how the story started. We made the switch, and it was good. Vincent Enyeama was quite helpful and I was nervous, but I haven’t looked back since,” the AFCON 2023 Player of the Year Tournament added.

Ekong wasn’t called up to the Super Eagles squad by Finidi George for their FIFA 2026 World Cup qualifying games, despite reiterating he was fit.