Super Eagles defender William Troost-Ekong has given his reasons why he does enjoy playing for Nigeria instead of the Netherlands.
Troost-Ekong stated this following claims by former Dutch national teammate Rafael van der Vaart, that the Super Eagles vice-captain could have played for the Netherlands if he had been patient.
Born to a Nigerian father and a Dutch mother, Troost-Ekong played for the Netherlands U-19 and U-20 teams.
However, Troost-Ekong switched his allegiance to Nigeria and made his debut on 13 June 2015, playing 90 minutes in an AFCON qualifier against Chad.
Speaking in an interview with Soccernet.ng, Troost-Ekong said: “I’m satisfied, I’m really happy with the place I am right now.
“Of course, when you do look back it is always easy to advise someone what they should have done. But I think I made a lot of right decisions and I stand by my decisions that it was always a dream to play for Nigeria.
“The pride I get playing for Nigeria wearing the shirt, I wouldn’t want to trade that for anyone else. Who is to say that playing for the Netherlands is better than playing for Nigeria?
“I respect his opinion and his view because it’s also showing that I’m doing something well for people to be talking like that and especially a great player like Rafael van der Vaart.
“I’m very happy about my decision and wouldn’t change it for anything.”
On the issue of over-reliance on players born and bred abroad over home-based players, Troost-Ekong said organisers of the NPFL must put in place a good structure, to give the home-grown players the opportunity to play for the national team.
“As a country, we have to consider all players with Nigerian roots. I’m grateful for that otherwise I won’t be playing for Nigeria if you only considered the home-based players. It’s also part of modern-day football,” he posited.
“I was born abroad but my father is Nigerian so I’m first-generation Nigerian born abroad.
‘’For many players like that, it is important to make sure when you choose the team for continuous development in the long-term, to pick the best players available.
“However, I strongly believe there has to be increased investment in the NPFL because you can’t force anyone to be selected but the home league needs to be consistent.
“I think it is good when we do see a home-based player come with us and they’re really part of the team.
‘’For the long-term, the best thing will be to have a great platform for players in Nigeria to show themselves there and hopefully get selected.
“We can’t disregard foreign-born players either, I think it will be a disadvantage for Nigeria. We have to look across the board and hopefully, there will be a good balance [that] will hopefully see Nigeria grow.”
And on the young players currently in the Eagles and what the future holds for the team: “We have so many young players, most of the players are under 24.
‘’Wilfred Ndidi is someone that is already doing so well and I think he’s going to be a big name, hopefully, a household name within Africa.
‘’Maybe he could win an African Player of the Year because he’s at such a stage now.
“Of course, we have [Samuel] Chukwueze, we have Victor Osimhen, Ola Aina is also a good young player.
‘’It is good to see them all coming and it puts pressure on us older players, everyone has to stay on top of their game.
“And for the coach, it is becoming easier to put together a good team because if there’s a player that’s not performing or is injured, we have so many options that entail our team shouldn’t get any weaker.”