The Manchester City Star That Got Away from the Super Eagles

The Manchester City Star That Got Away from the Super Eagles
Credit: Iconsport

The Nigeria national football team is a potential superteam thanks to the myriad of players with Nigerian heritage in several clubs in Europe. But over the years, some have chosen to represent the nations of their birth or naturalisation to the chagrin of many fans who hoped to see the Super Eagles strengthened with quality talent.

David Alaba, the captain of the Austria national team is one of the players who Nigerians still mourn over. Recently, Manuel Akanji has entered that list especially after Manchester City's road to the 2022/23 Premier League title and the UEFA Champions League final.

Manuel Akanji – Nigeria Never Called Me

Manuel Akanji, born Manuel Obafemi Akanji, was born in Switzerland to a Nigerian father and a Swiss mother. He lived and grew up in Switzerland, also starting his football career in the country.

In 2018, after ten years in the development stages and five years of first team football in Switzerland, Akanji moved to Germany to play with Borussia Dortmund. Before then, he had already represented Switzerland at U-20 and U-21 levels, and gotten his first call-up to the Swiss national team.

He appeared for Switzerland at the 2018 FIFA World Cup despite calls from many in the Nigeria football news scene to the management of the Super Eagles at the time to make a move on him.

His performances for the Swiss national team at the 2018 World Cup was phenomenal. Many believe he would have made it to the team of the tournament if Switzerland went further than the round of 16. That was where Nigerians took note of him and questions began to be asked of Pinnick's administration, who had missed out on a number of prospects at the time.

However, the 27-year-old defender revealed to Punch newspapers that he never received a call from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), then led by Amaju Melvin Pinnick, with respect to him switching his international allegiance.

He said, “Nigeria never called me to play (for the Eagles). There was no question where I should play because Switzerland asked me if I wanted to play for them. I heard nothing from Nigeria. So it was my decision.”

Akanji is enjoying his time with Switzerland and has never given a thought to playing for Nigeria, per his chat with Punch.

Akanji – The Perfect Fit for Man City

His transfer was underwhelming mostly because of the buzz created by the signing of Erling Haaland, but Pep Guardiola was reported to have been very excited for Manuel Akanji's signing.

The 27-year-old was described as the perfect fit for Guardiola's team and in his debut season, he has helped the Cityzens reach the Champions League final. He is also a Premier League and an FA Cup winner. A win on Saturday 10 June 2023 will see him join an elite list of players to have won an European treble.

Unlike Bukayo Saka who recently visited Nigeria and declared that, even though he plays for England, he feels more Nigerian than English, Akanji has no ties to the country aside from his name and parentage. He remains an excellent defender who could have strengthened the Super Eagles' defence for years to come, however.

And for Nigerian neutrals who plan on watching the Champions League final, Akanji could stir up some sentiment for a Manchester City victory.

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!