‘It Was the Right Decision’ – Eze Has No Regrets after Super Eagles Snub

‘It Was the Right Decision’ – Eze Has No Regrets after Super Eagles Snub
Credit: Iconsport

Crystal Palace midfielder Eberechi Eze has expressed no regrets about choosing the England national football team, the Three Lions, over the Nigeria national football team, the Super Eagles. The midfielder was speaking to the media ahead of England’s matches in the UEFA Euro Championship qualifiers games against Malta and North Macedonia scheduled for this week and next.

He was on the list that could have represented Nigeria at the AFCON 2023 qualifiers fixtures against Sierra Leone scheduled for Sunday. But the England-born midfielder broke the hearts of many Nigerian fans' by choosing to play for the country of his birth.

Eberechi Eze joins list of England-born Nigerians to opt for Three Lions

The Crystal Palace midfielder has now joined the list of England-born Nigerians who opted to play for the Three Lions despite approaches from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the many Super Eagles’ coaches who identified some of them.

Eze’s choice of England is the highest-profile rebuttal of Nigeria’s efforts after that of Bukayo Saka, who visited the country recently to connect with his roots. The former Reading man is close friends with Super Eagles’ wingback Bright Osayi-Samuel but that friendship was not enough to convince Eze to choose Nigeria ahead of England.

Speaking to the media ahead of England’s game against Malta, Eberechi Eze said: “[It was] more just speaking to the people around me, my family, my wife, getting good advice from the people around, trying to think what is the best decision for myself and my career. We think that this is the best one. It is a big opportunity for me, it is the highest level of football. I look at it with no regret at all.”

“It is the highest level of football, you want to test yourself against that, you want to be in that and you can see from the quality of the team, where they are getting to, the confidence they are playing with, it is incredible. So, being part of that is big. I received the call and I felt it was the right decision to make and I am very, very happy to be here.”

Eze: Missing out on Euro 2020 motivated me for Euro 2024

Nigeria and England have been going head-to-head for Eberechi Eze for the better part of four seasons. However, Eze’s latest comments insinuate that he had made his decision long ago despite former NFF president Amaju Pinnick expressing optimism in 2019 about convincing the midfielder to join the three-time AFCON champions.

Gareth Southgate also revealed after announcing his squad list for the 2024 Euro Championship qualifiers that Eze was on his provisional squad list for the Euro 2020 tournament but an injury ruled him out of making the final list.

Talking about that period, Eze, who learned of his inclusion in Southgate’s squad, said: “It is hard to put into words, I look at things a bit differently, I saw that as ‘I am on the right trajectory' although it is a sad situation I was in. No one wants to be injured but I saw that as ‘this is the level that you can get to' so I put my mind right, focus on my rehab. It gave me the motivation to keep going.”

Nigerian fans will now turn their attention to Michael Olise, Eze’s Crystal Palace teammate who is eligible to play for England, Algeria, France and Nigeria. The pressure is now on the NFF to deliver Eze to José Peseiro in order to bolster the weak midfield of the Super Eagles.

This article was most recently revised and updated 10 months ago

All-round lover of the beautiful game. Massive football fan, supported Arsenal for decades for reasons that are unexplainable. One day we will win the Champions League!