Gone are those days in our football, where over 50% of players representing the national team were guys from the local league, and critically we could actually point out the 1994 national team squad as a big case study, where some of our football legends today did come through that part with players like Rasheed Yekini, Daniel Amokachi, Kanu Nwankwo and the likes.
However, as good and lucrative those periods were, a lot has changed from then till now as inflow of local players going straight into the national team has drastically dropped, with the country’s attention now shifted into the foreign lands where Nigerian born players are.
Therefore, with the rapid shift of countries and FIFA rules giving rooms to footballers to also switch their allegiance to another country as long as such player hasn’t represented a particular country in an official match and also have what it takes to switch his international allegiance.
Due to this trend, some nations mostly England have been able to tempt away the likes of John Fashanu, Dele Alli, and more recently Tammy Abraham, however talented stars such as Alex Iwobi, Ola Aina and William Troost-Ekong have shown that Nigeria is probably even more blessed than it was some decade ago.
Today, Cheapgoals will look at two young stars that could also represent Nigeria, or being snatched up by the Three Lions of England.
Bukayo Saka – Arsenal
There is a talent on the block turning heads and attracting admiring glances, Saka emerged on the scene back in 2018 under the tutelage of former Arsenal manager Unai Emery, when he was first handed the opportunity to play in a Europa League match against Vorskla Poltava.
Since his debut under Emery, many thought the brilliancy he showed was just a case of a fairytale which won’t last long, however, Saka has been able to prove doubters wrong.
Despite having the opportunity to play under three managers in the last six months of the season, Saka has proved beyond doubt that he can deliver, and none of the coaches has considered him unfit or unworthy to don the Arsenal jersey.
However, with Saka’s form and club career following an upward trajectory, it’s only a matter of time before a decision has to be made, on which country the young Arsenal man would represent, as allegiance tussle between Nigeria and England looks imminent for the Nigerian born player.
The war looks imminent, because Nigeria wouldn’t want to lose out on securing his service just like they did with Fashanu, Alli, and most recently with Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham, even when it’s crystal clear that opportunity to feature for the Three Lions can be more tempting than that of Super Eagles.
However, the truth is, Saka should decide playing for Nigeria which would serve as smarter move for him in getting to play perhaps at the next AFCON and also be part of the team to World Cup come 2022, as the gaffer of team Gernot Rohr has shown many times that he is not scared to give a deserving player to show what he could offer the team just like he did a whole lot of Super Eagles players.
Another reason why Saka’s allegiance is of more importance to Nigeria is Gernot Rohr team still lack that natural left-wing forward who can give opponents lots of headaches and something to ponder about, if he did switch his allegiance to Nigeria, the left-wing attack could be cemented for him in the national team, and more importantly it would serve as a big privilege to wear the Green and White jersey just like the likes of Iwobi and Troost Ekong did and never regretted dumping the countries that wanted their services.
Eberechi Eze – Queen Park Rangers
The exciting midfielder is enjoying a breakthrough season with QPR, with him netting over ten goals in the Championship this season, the 21year old had also shown how good he was with the excellent display in QPR matches this season with strings of excellent passes and the eye for goals from his midfield position.
The Nigerian born midfielder is also very much under the radar of Nigeria football officials despite him receiving criticism for his public pursuit, however, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Pinnick has always voiced out his affection for Eze as he dreams of him playing for Nigeria.
Apparently, the Nigerian football enthusiast had not forgotten how the NFF, was in pursuit of Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori only for them to choose the Three Lions ahead of Nigeria, however that hasn’t stopped the NFF from convincing Eze to don the Green and White jersey as the international allegiance tussle between Nigeria and England looks imminent.
In November 2019, the NFF President paid Eze a visit in London in other to convince the young lad to switch his allegiance to the birth country of his parents rather than England, although the Super Eagles have a lot of talents most especially of recent in the midfield with the new introduction of Joe Aribo, but then it won’t be out of place if Nigeria have Eze as one of the team solid talents, as Nigeria prepare for World Cup qualifiers.
According to report in 2017, the young midfielder has once trained with Nigeria in London during their training, which shows the QPR may one day end up with the Super Eagles, however, talks are ongoing, but the player has requested that he wants to focus on his club career which has been going on smoothly for him so far.
Even at that, the NFF should be swift in trying to convince him more, so Eze’s talent won’t be a loss to England just like we did with Fashanu et al.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.
Top 10 Football Dribblers Of All Time
The beautiful game of football is arguably the only sport that entertains its fans with the opportunity to witness a genuine instance of sheer genius with a series of beautiful nutmegs. The display of skills, footwork, eye-catching dribbles by different players makes the game more entertaining.
A lot of players around the world can dribble, go past a defender with a single flick and pace. However, good dribblers can be considered as one of the most important key players of a team, as they can unlock any kind of defense.
There are tons of Football dribblers, but only the best have made it onto the CheapGoals list.
10. Roberto Rivelino
Rivelino’s magic with the ball was unbelievable, doing things nobody ever has or will do on a football pitch, and also had a quality of certainty about himself when he was on the ball.
He would not only wind past his opponents but also mortify them and smash defenders’ confidence. Sudden speeding up, various body bluffs would see him outfox defenders on numerous occasions, as some would say Garrincha made the ball talk to his feet.
Other than being authoritatively one of the best footballers to ever graced the beautiful game and lived with three World Cup medals, this iconic Brazilian player was incredible at dribbling. Being able to control the ball in front of defenders and going past them with ease and confidence is something an aspiring footballer would dream of.
8. George Best
Undoubtedly one of England’s greatest players, having scored 137 goals in 361 appearances for Manchester United in a career that spread over more than a decade for the Red Devils. He had the confidence to make use of the ball within and outside of his boot so well that he could cut around players quickly and easily.
De Lima is known for dribbling past defenders and after that going ahead to score a goal. only a few players have aced the popular ‘step over’ dribble as Ronaldo always proved to be a match-winner time over time with his solo dribbles.
6. Johan Cruyff
One of Cruyff’s best abilities was that he had the ability to recognize any weakness and shortcoming in a defender. Like De-lima, he had a move named after him called “The Cruyff Turn”. It would appear as though he was passing the ball to a teammate but instead to kick the ball, he would turn 90 degrees and drag the ball within his foot behind his back leg. This sudden 90-degree move always left the opponent over to the cleaners.
Talking about football dribblers, Garrincha compared to Pele was generally viewed as the best dribbler ever. His extraordinary speed combined with his stunning ball control always leaves defenders powerless, and unfit to deal with his mesmerizing dribbles. At just 5ft 6inches Garrincha’s low center of gravity helped him weave around opponents effortlessly.
4. Diego Maradona
Maradona uses a style of dribbling called “Gambetta” in which he would use his body position to trick into going the wrong way.
Maradona is an impudent, supreme football dribbler – who uses his small stature to make an extraordinary impact which made him one of the best dribblers in football. His strength and control made it difficult to knock him off the ball.
Considered by many as a standout amongst one of the most skillful players in football, he was commended for his abilities and inventiveness. only if his prime had lasted longer, he may very well have been crowned with Ballon d’Or but Okocha is one of the best football dribblers. Be that as it may, it always a joy to watch the Nigerian dazzle on the football pitch.
The former PSG forward and Brazil legend came into the limelight amid his time with Barcelona scoring 70 goals in 145 caps for the club. Dinho brought his mesmerizing pattern of football from the streets of Brazil onto the world stage, and defenders couldn’t deal with his skills and frills.
Every little thing about him appeared to be so superb. From his sly bluffs to his sudden change in increasing speed, all that he did was accompanied by a smile all over his face. His most popular trick was ‘Snake Bite’ where he would trick defenders by pushing the ball sideways, however, all of a sudden pulling the ball back the other way. He is considered one of the best football dribblers.
Having for all intents and purposes wins everything minus a World Cup, the four-time Balon d’Or winner is magnificently unstoppable on his day. The Barcelona forward has scored lots of stunning goals, beating three, four, even five players before firing it in the back of the net.
Mathias Sindelar, Zinedine Zidane, Micheal Laudrup, Adama Toure, Magico Gonzalez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr, Ariel Ortega, Eden Hazard,Dennis Bergkamp.
This is CheapGoal’s top 10 football dribblers, if any of our loving readers feel otherwise or have their preferred special list, pls don’t hesitate to drop and comment…