Why Tammy Abraham’s Choice To Represent England Over Nigeria Is Correct
Switching allegiance in football is not new. Victor Moses changed nationalities to Nigeria from England in 2012, having represented the Three Lions in U-16, U-17, U-19 and U-21 tournaments. Diego Costa played twice for his native Brazil in 2013, but later declared his desire to represent Spain, having been granted Spanish citizenship in September 2013.
The latest to be drawn into this matter is Chelsea’s on-loan striker Tammy Abraham. Abraham, 20, who is on a season long-loan at Swansea, played for England at this summer’s European Under-21 Championship in Poland but remains eligible to represent Nigeria through his father.
Nigeria have previous form in successfully snapping up former England youth internationals, with Victor Moses, Sone Aluko, Shola Ameobi, Alex Iwobi and Ola Aina all having chosen to represent the African nation. And given Abraham’s roots, Nigeria didn’t hesitate in trying their luck.
In September, Amaju Pinnick, the president of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), said he was hopeful of persuading the now 20-year-old to switch allegiance, thanks to his close relationship with Abraham’s father, who is a childhood friend.
Pinnick claimed Abraham had agreed to play for Nigeria but the striker denied reports of switching international allegiances and reiterated his commitment to England.
“Contrary to reports in the media today I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance.”
“I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father.
“However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.
“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” he concluded.
Abraham’s decision was backed by his Swansea manager Paul Clement, who said:
“For me, from my point of view, I hope he stays with the English national team. I’m not sure he’d be better off career-wise, I’m saying it because I’m English and he’s a good English talent, so you want him involved with your national team.”
In all honesty, Abraham, who has scored 4 goals in 8 league appearances for Swansea this season, has taken the right decision to stick with England. The young striker had the chance to choose Nigeria because of better playing opportunities and a chance of playing more regularly. But he denied it, which speak volumes over his cutthroat attitude and desire to fight with the English boys to make a mark in the national team.
Abraham was born in London and has been at Chelsea academy since the age of 8. So Nigeria’s move to get the striker on their books was immoral, throwing light on what is exactly wrong with international football.
The 20-year-old may feel obliged to the country of his birth—where he has grown, nurtured and developed as a footballer. It also exposes NFF’s shortage of hubs to identify talents within the 185-million populated nation and run after readymade players across the globe. The Super Eagles have abundance of talent and should focus grooming the ones at home. An organized approach from Nigeria’s footballing board beckons, despite them qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Coming back to Abraham, had the striker preferred Nigeria, he had to play the Africa Federation Cup Of Nations (AFCON). AFCON takes place in the middle of the Premier League season which will see him miss bits and pieces. Also, playing at the AFCON during a crucial period of the season will see the English club miss his services. It will be a risky preposition, given the nature and history of full-international tournament.
So apart from national pride, Abraham’s choice to continue with England makes clear sense. England Under-21 boss, Aidy Boothroyd may feel huge sigh of relief surrounding the speculation, given the amazing talent that the on-loan Chelsea forward is.