Posted by Nelson Dafe | 28 May 2014 | 4,707 times
When Nigeria takes on Scotland in a Brazil 2014 World Cup build-up match tonight in London, there would be a Nigerian face in the Scottish ranks who will likely take to the pitch, at some point in the game, against his fatherland.
Like some Nigerian football players in the past (most notably Justin Fashanu and, more recently, Gabriel Agbonlahor) Ikechi Anya of English division one side Watford has opted to turn his back on the chance of representing his country of origin, instead choosing to play for Scotland, where he was brought up. And the 26-year-old doesn’t regret playing for the Scots.
“My love of football developed when I was in Scotland, so I was always going for that- for me it was always going to be Scotland,” he said.
The right winger, who is born of a Nigerian father and a Romanian mother, has not had an easy ride in football, having to survive disappointing moments in his career – which included being released from previous club sides. But his “never say die” attitude has seen him surmount bounce back from setbacks, and today he is an international player.
Anya made his Scotland debut in September 2013 against Belgium in a World Cup qualifier. His first international goal came that month against Macedonia in a 2-1 win for Scotland.
Would Anya have had the opportunity to play international football if he had waited on Nigeria? Well, with the very many quality local and international players Nigeria has, there certainly was no guarantee that the light-skinned attacker would have made it into the Super Eagles team.
Speaking further on his decision to play for Scotland, and not Nigeria, Anya said: “When I was really young, I was in Nigeria, but I can’t remember it. I appreciate the Nigerian side of my father and the Romanian side of my mother. But that is them. I chose Scotland.”
•Photo shows Ikechi Anya.
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