Nigerian Youngsters In England The Super Eagles Need To Hold On To Before Its Too Late.
1. ADEMOLA LOOKMAN (19 years, Forward, Everton.
On Sunday, January 15 2017, young Nigerian born forward,l Ademola Lookman, made his debut for Everton and marked it by scoring in a 4-0 home win against Manchester City.
Lookman, 19, was signed by Everton for £10m in the January transfer window after impressing for Charlton Athletic who are now in League One.
Presently playing for England’s U-20 team, Lookman can still turn out for Nigeria.
2. CHUBA AKPOM (21 years, Forward, Arsenal)
Born in Canning Town, England, Akpom joined Arsenal at the age of six. He made his debut for the Arsenal U-18 side at the age of 15, and signed his first professional contract with Arsenal on 10 October 2012, a day after turning 17.
In December 2012 Akpom received his first call into the Arsenal senior squad, when he was an unused substitute in a 2–1 Champions League defeat to Olympiakos.
He made his competitive debut in a 3–1 Premier League win over Sunderland on 14 September 2013. He came on in the third minute of injury time as a substitute for the injured Olivier Giroud.
Despite appearing for England’s U-16, U-17, U-19, U-20 and U-21, Akpom is still eligible to play for Nigeria. In May 2016, it was reported that he was one of the three players formally approached by the Nigeria Football Federation.
3. SEYI OJO (19 years, Winger, Liverpool)
Seyi Ojo joined Liverpool as a 14-year-old and came through their academy. He spent time on loan with Championship clubs; Wigan Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers before making his competitive debut for Liverpool in January 2016 in the FA Cup Third Round tie against Exeter City that ended in a 2–2 draw.
Ojo who has eight senior appearances for Liverpool, made his Premier League debut for The Reds on 20 March 2016, replacing Joe Allen in the 87th minute in a 3–2 loss away to Southampton.
Born in Hemel Hempstead, England, Ojo has represented England at under-16, under-17, under-18 and under-19 levels, but is eligible to play for Nigeria since he has never played for England’s senior national team in any competitive game.
Ahead of the 2016–17 season, Ojo sustained a fracture in his back and did not return to first team training until mid-November.
4. OVIE EJARIA (19 years, Midfielder, Liverpool)
Initially an Arsenal player after signing for the London club in 2005, Southwark-born Ovie Ejaria left to join Liverpool in 2016.
On 25 October, Ejaria made his full debut in the Fourth Round of the EFL Cup in a 2–1 win over Tottenham at Anfield.
Ejaria debuted in the Premier League on 6 November 2016, coming on as a substitute in Liverpool’s 6–1 home win over Watford.
In 2013 Ejaria trained with the Golden Eaglets and stated that his international allegiance was with the country in 2014. But in 2016, Ejaria made his debut for England’s U-20 in a 3–1 win against Germany.
5. TOSIN ADARABIOYO (19 years, Defender, Manchester City)
Born in Manchester, Tosin Adarabioyo joined Manchester City youth system as a five year old.
Yet to play in the Premier League for Manchester City, Adarabioyo made his first-team debut in an FA Cup match against Chelsea in February 2016.
Adarabioyo went on to make his Champions League debut in August 2016, as a substitute in a 1–0 win over Steaua Bucuresti, in a Champions League play-off round match.
He has represented England at U-16, U-17, U-18 and U-19 levels but still qualifies to play for Nigeria.
6. TOSIN KEHINDE (18 years, Midfielder, Manchester United)
Talented Tosin Kehinde was born in Lagos and joined Manchester United in 2014.
Kehinde has Premier Cup experience after rising through the ranks at the club and made four starts and a substitute appearance for the Academy team as a schoolboy.
Known for his passing skills and also with plenty of positional sense, Kehinde amassed 27 games for the Under-18s last season, scoring three times. He also scored in the UEFA Youth League, during a win at Wolfsburg.
Kehinde has never featured for any English junior national teams.
7. LAYTON NDUKWU (18 years, Forward, Leicester City)
Known for his pace and tricks, Layton Ndukwu is one of the stars of the youth team at Leicester and a player the club have high hopes for going forward.
An England under-17 international, he has scored six goals in 17 appearances at that level in his career so far – including a hat-trick against Cyprus in October 2014.
Ndukwu whose contract at the King Power is due to expire in the summer is eligible to play for Nigeria.
8. TAMMY ABRAHAM (19 years, Forward, Chelsea)
Currently on loan to Bristol City in the Championship from Chelsea, Tammy Abraham joined Chelsea at U-8 level and progressed through the clubs academy system.
Abraham was part of the Chelsea youth side which recorded back to back triumphs in both the UEFA Youth League and the FA Youth Cup in 2015 and 2016.
Former Chelsea boss Hiddink handed Abraham his Chelsea debut on May 2016,in a 1–1 Premier League draw with Liverpool. Abraham then made his home debut at Stamford Bridge the following week in a 1–1 draw with Premier League Champions Leicester.
Abraham is presently second in the Championship top scorers chart with 15 goals, five short of Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle who has 20 goals.
At international level, Abraham plays for England’s U-21 but can still represent Nigeria at senior level since he has not played for England’s senior national team in a competitive game.
9. DOMINIC IORFA JNR (21 years, Defender, Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Son of former Nigeria international, Dominic Iorfa, Iorfa junior is a teammate of Super Eagles goalkeeper Carl Ikeme at Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Iorfa joined Wolves in 2013 at the age of 15, and made his first appearance for the club as a surprise starter in a 2-1 loss to Bournemouth in December 2014.
In January 2015, Iorfa won the football league’s Young Player Of The Month award.
Iorfa has been capped by England at under-18 and under-20 levels but according to his father, Iorfa will consider playing for Nigeria only after his 23rd birthday.
10. JONATHAN AFOLABI (17 years, Striker, Southampton)
Born in Tallaght, Ireland, Jonathan Afolabi joined Southampton in July 2016 on a scholarship.
Afolabi whose sporting hero is former Cote d’Ivoire and Chelsea striker Didier Drogab is a strong and fast player who doesn’t give defenders a moment’s peace.
He currently turns out for Southampton’s U-18 and was on target for the club’s U-23 side who lost 3-1 to Arsenal’s U-23 side on Tuesday.
Although there are no records of Afolabi ever featuring for Ireland or England, he can still play for Nigeria at international level.
11. MICHAEL OBAFEMI (16 Years, Striker, Southampton)
Just like Jonathan Afolabi, Michael Obafemi was born in Ireland and joined the Saints Academy from Leyton Orient.
Popularly called ‘Oba’ Obafemi who boasts pace and agility is a traditional number nine who bases his game on former Brazilian striker Ronaldo.
He was scouted by Saints while he was playing for Orient in April 2016 and plays for their U-18 team.
He also qualifies to play for Nigeria at international level.