Zimbabwe’s technical team have ‘stepped up’ their pursuit of Reiss Nelson as they hope to persuade him to declare for the Warriors in time for the AFCON this summer.
Reiss Nelson qualifies for both England and Zimbabwe but has, so far, opted to represent England at u16,17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 level.
“We are chasing after Nelson, but it’s very difficult to get into direct contact with some of these players abroad,” manager Wellington Mupandare, who has been tasked with luring qualifying players for Zimbabwe said.
“Even getting the contacts of his manager is proving difficult. Going through either Arsenal or Hoffenheim will not help either. So I have assigned some people to try and go and see him at Hoffenheim.”
This is not the first time Mupandare has said he’s tried to get in touch with Nelson. Back in December, the Warriors manager said, “Obviously, there is plenty we need to do to convince Reiss Nelson and Nydam.
“We really need them and we will do our best to get them.”
Even that wasn’t the first time he had spoken out on the subject of Nelson’s national future. Last year, he spoke to KweséESPN and made a very similar statement.
“Yes, we are interested in Nelson but we are still trying to establish contact with him, so I can’t say much at the moment,” Mupandare said at the time. “We know that the player is highly rated in England and it will be difficult, but we will try our best.”
Nelson was born and raised in England, with an English mother, but his father is from Zimbabwe, which makes him eligible for their national team. We’ve already seen Alex Iwobi make the decision to play for Nigeria after initially playing for the England youth teams, so it’s always possible that Nelson will follow a similar path.
It seems, however, that he is much more likely to play for England. He told the BBC’s David Ornstein that playing for the Three Lions in the senior side would be “a dream come true” and “a massive achievement”.
He certainly seemed delighted to be involved with the England u21s, scoring twice and assisting once in his first five games.
The 2019 AFCON will be held in Egypt this summer between 21 June and 19 July.