Manchester United’s 19-year-old Tosin Kehinde has said he would like to play for Nigeria instead of England, crediting Alex Iwobi with inspiring him to pick the Super Eagles over the Three Lions.
Kehinde and his family met with officials from the Nigerian Football Federation last week to begin the process of switching from England to Nigeria.
“Nigeria has always been a part of me,” he said. “I was born there. My whole family are Nigerian. I come from a very strong Nigerian background so the influence has always been around me.
“When you are growing up, when you see players like Jay Jay Okocha, how good he was and the current crop of players such as Alex Iwobi and Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi, the desire to get the opportunity to play for Nigeria has always been there really.”
Kehinde is a midfielder who can also play on the left wing and he has been with Manchester United since he was 13.
He has not yet made a first-team appearance for United but hopes Jose Mourinho’s ‘belief in youth’ will see him get an opportunity sooner rather than later.
“I hope to play in the first team, that’s every player’s dream and my dream also,” he said.
“The manager’s [Jose Mourinho’s] continued belief in the youth and giving people opportunity has made me feel that if I keep working hard maybe I can get the opportunity as well.”
Alex Iwobi revealed that he also said no to England in order to turn out for Nigeria.
”Originally I’m from Nigeria. I always felt comfortable there. It was a hard decision because I’d played for England but I felt more at home there,” Iwobi said last summer.
”When I first went they treated me like royalty. For the U23s, like a king. It’s a big thing there.
”As I was about to play my first match (for Nigeria) Roy Hodgson was in contact with Arsenal saying they’d like me to get involved with the under-21s but my mind was made up. It’s my decision.”
Iwobi now has 15 caps and four goals for Nigeria so far. He admitted he almost cried after scoring his historic goal for his nation at the end of 2017.
On 7 October, Iwobi came on in the 66th minute for Nigeria during their 2018 World Cup qualifier against Zambia.
Seven minutes later, the 21-year-old netted the only goal of the match, sending his country to the World Cup as the first African side to qualify.
“It’s so hard to describe, you know what I mean,” Iwobi told Arsenal Player.
Alex Iwobi puts Nigeria ahead in their crucial World Cup qualifier.
Smart finish 👏 pic.twitter.com/5yihCJhMc1
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 7, 2017
“When I actually scored the moment was crazy, I remember running off celebrating. I almost cried, I actually almost cried to see how the fans were reacting, to see my mum and dad in the stands, it was just an amazing feeling.”