Should We Celebrate Players Who 'Fall Back' To Nigeria After Missing Out on Their Country of Choice?
I had been tracking this Rinsola Babajide lady for sometime now but gave up because there were no indications on either side (player and West African country) that she was willing to jump ship having being a young British talent.
I think coach Sarena Wiegman dropped the ball in this one. The 25 year old striker, who famously scored 14 goals in just one match in her University days, would have been a worthy addition to the Lionesses (more so as they are currently sinking in the Quicksand of Olympics women's football qualification failure).
Against Netherlands in their 2:1 Olympics qualifier loss, this sort of Anglo-Nigerian striker could have provided some thrust - with her speed and the strength of her physicality - and some cutting edge (with the strength of her goal scoring intellect).
But now Nigeria has her.
She was in the plans of former England Women's coach Phil Neville and she had a realistic hope of representing Great Britain Soccer team at the 2020 Olympics but nothing came of it.
Her dreams might yet come true with the Super Falcons in Paris next summer.
Rinsola's game has developed with her technique improving all the time.
She trained in athletics as a sprinter too and brought that pace with her to the football field, quickly becoming an unstoppable winger with great feet, timing and a finish to match in particular in her time at Liverpool where she framed her game along the lines of Sadio Mane's style.
She can now play, as to the manner born, in any attacking position.
I watched one clip for Liverpool where she cut in from the left wing, bobbing and weaving past 5 defenders before gyrating into the 18 yard box to dink a deft finish past the despairing goalkeeper. It was a fine frame of a fantastic finish from a fabulous Forward.
Make no mistake, she has the quality of making the England squad. But, truth be told, now at age 25, the World Cup Runners up will now be looking to a younger, more vibrant generation of strikers. If you don't break into that team before 24 years, your chances start to diminish like a Celestial Church prayer candle.
But we don't mind, USA born Ifeoma Onumonu is knocking the door of 30 years of age. So, if Rinsola is still playing at a high level, she will feature for us for the next 4 to 8 years.
For those of us Nigeria fans celebrating to the high heavens of her choice, think of this: In 2020 when she had a realistic chance of going to the Olympics with Team GB, it is debatable whether she would have considered us which for me is perfectly understandable.
Still, I think her inclusion is nonetheless a coup and I welcome her with open arms despite the fact that we may have been her second choice.