Two capped Ex-England International of Nigeria descent John Fashanu in a recent article gave a word of advice to dual nationality players torn between representing their country of birth/domicile or their country of origin. “If you want to play and have longevity, choose Nigeria because it is so sure that they will never get a consistent run of matches playing for England,” expressed Fashanu. The backdrop of his comments came as the duo of Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori were overlooked by coach Gareth Southgate for England’s team to Euro 2021 to be hosted across 11 countries.
However noble Fashanu’s advice may be, does it actually hold true in the current national team climate? I personally don’t think that choosing Nigeria ahead of another country necessarily guarantees the dual nationality ‘a consistent run of matches’ as Fashanu suggests. With the tsunami of dual nationality and indegenous quality options becoming available to Nigeria by the hour, no player can be guaranteed anything. They have to be active, performing well and prove that they have what it takes to displace others. Despite picking Nigeria ahead of Belgium, Cyriel Dessers is still waiting for ‘a consistent run of matches’. Same can be said of Josh Maja and Nathan Oforbor. Being dual nationality alone is not a passport to the Super Eagles starting 11. You have to be churning out quality performances at your club and be clearly a cut above the rest. Is Tammy Abraham head and shoulders better than other Super Eagles strikers at this time or can Fikayo Tomori simply brush current Super Eagles defenders aside? I don’t think so. And when it comes to remuneration, I think players should be made to contribute to their own pensions. In the United Kingdom, workers are made to pay into their own pension pot. The amount they earn after retirement will be dictated by their contribution during their working life. It makes absolute sense for this sort of arrangement to be in place for Nigeria Internationals so that when they retire, the government can augment the footballers’ pension contributions. They already get handsomely rewarded for their work (that is when the NFF chooses to pay them). When they perform well in tournaments, they are rewarded with all manner of gifts like houses and land (again, when the benefactor decides to fulfil their promises). So, it is not altogether irresponsible to expect the Super Eagles Internationals to contribute to their own income after retirement. This should have an ‘opt in or opt out option’.If they choose to opt out of such an arrangement, then they have decided to look after themselves by themselves after retirement. At the moment, we are led to believe that the reason why footballers earn ridiculous amounts of money is because of the transient and short nature of their career. That being the case, it is incumbent upon them to spend (and invest) that money wisely! They (more than most) owe it to themselves to look after their own future. Choosing Nigeria ahead of England should at least guarantee that players are paid their wages and bonuses on time and in its entirely. Sadly, the NFF is failing in this basic of requirements. That, for me, is the greater worry!