Ranking: Top 10 Nigerians to play for England national team

Ranking: Top 10 Nigerians to play for England national team
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The England national team is replete with stars that have flown their banner high, leading to their only conquest – the 1966 FIFA World Cup.

During their illustrious history, players of different heritage and lineage have represented the country in various international tournaments.

Nigeria is not left out and has contributed its fair share of players to the England national team. We look at the top ten Nigerian players who have played for England.

The top Nigerian players who have played for the England national team

Gabriel Agbonlahor

England national team - Gabby Agbonlahor
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Gabriel Agbonlahor is one of the most disliked Nigerian players to feature for the England national team.

Fans of the Super Eagles speak his name with loath as many expected him to turn out in the green and white of the Nigerian national team.

Agbonlahor’s ancestry qualified him to play for either Scotland, Nigeria or the country of his birth, England. With the decisions before him, Agbonlahor found himself at a crossroads when in March 2007, he received a surprise call-up as part of a 37-man provisional Nigeria squad by new manager Berti Vogts.

Also invited alongside Agbonlahor were fellow English players Victor Anichebe and Carl Ikeme. Agbonlahor turned his back on the Super Eagles but lived to regret it, as he made only three caps for the Three Lions.

Dominic Solanke

England national team - Dominic Solanke
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Dominic Solanke was born in Reading to a Yoruba father and an English mother. It qualified him to play for both countries.

The player who started his career with the Chelsea youth side has come of age at AFC Bournemouth and is a prospect that would have contributed immensely to the Super Eagles.

Solanke chose the England national team over the Super Eagles after receiving an invitation in 2017. He made a 15-minute cameo for the Three Lions in a friendly against Brazil.

Solanke scored 19 Premier League goals in the 2023/24 season and will hope to add to his single cap for England.

Ross Barkley

England national team - Ross Barkley
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Few people know that Ross Barkley has Nigerian blood flowing in his veins and qualified him to represent Nigeria. However, Barkley decided to follow his mother’s ancestry and represent the England national team.

Barkley uses his mother’s maiden name instead of his father’s – Effanga. He was born in Liverpool and played for Everton, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Luton Town.

He had a decent career with the England national team, but little suggests that he would have made much difference in the Super Eagles.

He had 33 caps with England and scored six goals.

Carlton Cole

England national team - Carlton Cole
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Carlton Cole is another player who regrets turning out for the England national team. The former Chelsea forward openly confessed that Nwankwo Kanu was his hero.

Born Carlton Michael George Cole Okorie to a Nigerian father and Sierra Leonean mother, Cole could play for three countries.

Cole said he took advice from his club to play for England following an invitation to turn out for the Super Eagles.

According to Cole, he was never a follower of Nigerian affairs, and his interest in African football was occasional.

Cole made seven appearances for England and scored no goal.

Tammy Abraham

England national team - Tammy Abraham
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Born Kevin Oghenetega Tamaraebi Bakumo-Abraham is another player that Nigerians expressed disappointment in after he picked the England national team over the Super Eagles.

In his case, there was optimism that he would adorn the green and white of the Super Eagles, as the NFF was actively trying to convince him that the Nigerian national side was the best for his international career.

Being eligible to represent Nigeria due to his paternal lineage, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick tried to get him to choose Nigeria.

In September 2017, Pinnick claimed that Abraham had switched his allegiance to Nigeria, but Abraham denied the claim.

After his first England call-up in November 2017, Abraham said the chances of playing for Nigeria was nil.

Ugo Ehiogu

England national team - Ugo Ehiogu
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The late Ugo Ehiogu died at 44 at the Tottenham Hotspur training ground after a cardiac arrest.

The Nigerian-born Englishman made four caps for the England national team and debuted in a 3-0 friendly win over China in May 1996.

Ehiogu is also the first black man to captain in a competitive game.

John Salako

Not many people remember John Salako. The midfielder's journey to the England national team is a fairy tale.

Salako is the only Nigerian to play for England that was not born in the country. The Crystal Palace legend was born in Ibadan, Nigeria and made five caps for the Three Lions.

Dele Alli

England national team - Dele Alli
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Born Bamidele Jermaine Alli. The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder is perhaps the most controversial player that Nigeria missed.

Dele did everything within his power to deny his roots and turned his back on Nigeria. He was born in England, but a dysfunctional family unit saw him grow in different places.

Dele spent some years in Nigeria before returning to the UK, where he played for MK Dons and Tottenham. He had a sterling career with Spurs, and the upward trajectory saw Nigeria willing to let him play for the Super Eagles.

In 2015, John Fashanu tried to convince him to feature for the Super Eagles, but in October of that year, Dele was included by Roy Hodgson in the England squad for the Euro qualifiers.

Dele debuted for the England national team on October 9 2015 against Estonia. He was a late substitute for Ross Barkley.

He made 37 appearances for the Three Lions and scored three goals, but, since the open feud between him and his biological parents, his football career nosedived.

Bukayo Saka

England national team - Bukayo Saka
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Born Bukayo Ayoyinka Temidayo Saka to Yoruba parents from Kwara State, Nigeria.

Saka started his career in the Watford youth setup before moving to Arsenal and has graduated to the senior team, where he has made a mark for himself.

Saka played at various youth levels for England before being called to the England national team in 2020. Since his England debut, Saka has been a steady feature for the Three Lions with 32 caps and 11 goals.

Despite playing for England, Nigerians still love him and visited the country in 2023.

John Fashanu

England national team - John Fashanu
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John Fashanu is one Nigerian who regrets playing for the England national team.

However, the former Wimbledon striker blames his inability to play for the Super Eagles on the coach. Fashanu claims he wanted to play for Nigeria and showed his intention by returning home, but the coach did not require his services.

Fashanu returned to England and received a call-up to the Three Lions, but his spell was brief, as he played only two matches.

# Name Apps Goals Years
10 Gabriel Agbonlahor 3 0 2008-09
09 Dominic Solanke 1 0 2017- date
08 Ross Barkley 33 6 2013-2019
07 Carlton Cole 7 0 2009-10
06 Tammy Abraham 11 3 2017-date
05 Ugo Ehiogu 4 1 1996-2002
04 John Salako 5 0 1991
03 Dele Alli 37 3 2015-19
02 Bukayo Saka 32 11 2020-date
01 John Fashanu 2 0 1989

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 weeks ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter. Chooka has a passion for football and has been a fan of Enugu Rangers (over 30 years) and Real Madrid (Since 1996).