England boss Gareth Southgate has shared his thoughts on the decision of Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi to switch his international allegiance from England to Nigeria back in 2015.
Although the Hale End Academy product represented the Young Lions at U16, U17 and U18 level, he has strong allegiances to Nigeria through his mom and dad, and was born in the country’s commercial capital Lagos.
While the likes of Iwobi and Wilfried Zaha have been lost to African countries after representing England youth teams, the English Football Association recently won the race for the services of West Ham’s Declan Rice and invited him to the Three Lions eight days after he got his FIFA clearance.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Southgate said : ”If you look at any of our junior age groups now, over fifty percent of the players have dual nationality.
”Some can play for more than two countries, so increasingly that’s a complex decision. It’s a complex landscape.
”I know people are questioning the rules but at the moment, the rules are the only guide we can all work from and kids are asked to make decisions very young.
”U16, they can play for two or three countries – no issue. Soon as they play in a UEFA competition, U17, then they can’t transfer unless the paperwork is completed and you only get one chance to do that.
”Once young boys are capped very young, then it becomes very complex situations and some of those situations we have had players transferred to us, and in others like Iwobi, Zaha, Ampadu, players who have gone to other countries.”
Ten Nigeria-eligible players, including Tammy Abraham, Ademola Lookman, Fikayo Tomori and Eberechi Eze who are on the radar of the Nigerian Federation, have received call-ups to England youth teams for games in March.