Bukayo Saka says being born and raised in England made it difficult for him to pick the Nigeria senior national team instead.
Bukayo Saka made his debut for the England national team last October, before playing his first competitive game for the country in November. That appearance made him ineligible for Nigeria, who he also could have chosen to represent.
Obviously, any Nigerian football fans would be disappointed with the decision. It’s clear that Saka is a big talent, so they’re going to want him playing for their country.
But it was up to the player himself in the end, and he says it would have been difficult to pick Nigeria given his personal circumstances growing up.
“Choosing Nigeria over England would be a tough decision,” Saka admitted. “My whole family has been in England like forever, it would be very strange for me to adapt to an environment that I had never been in since growing up.
“When I grew up all my documents stated that I am English, hopefully Nigerian people will understand.”
Saka played for England throughout the youth teams, at u16, u17, u18, u19, and u21 levels. Though that’s not uncommon for young players who go on to pick other countries, like Alex Iwobi, Saka also got an early call-up for the senior side.
When you’re already affiliated with a country at youth level and then they call you up for the first team so young, it must make it harder to say no.
It’s a different story if you’re someone like 23-year-old Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who is considering opting for DR Congo instead as England manager Gareth Southgate repeatedly overlooks him.
For Saka, the country he grew up in wants him in the team at 19. That’s a difficult offer to refuse.