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Tammy Abraham Turns His Back on Nigeria


first_imgShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Born in London, Abraham is still permitted to switch allegiance as he has yet to play for the senior side, and qualifies for the Super Eagles through his father, who is Nigerian.“I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley 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 off the mark. I have informed the FA that I remain available for selection for England.”Abraham’s words contradicted Pinnicks’, who had claimed, “I had a very honest and productive discussion with Tammy and his father last week. It has been a long process but I can tell you authoritatively that he has agreed to play for Nigeria and not England.“Clearly, he understands he stands a better chance playing for the Super Eagles. With his talent, he has the ability to fight for a place in the Nigeria squad, By God’s grace, if we make it to Russia, then he would contest for a chance to represent his fatherland.”Former national team head-coach, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, had backed Abraham’s decision to play for England national senior football team instead of Nigeria, saying the rejection of Nigeria by the Swansea loanee should make the NFF eggheads wakeup to their responsibilities.Onigbinde berated NFF for always going after already-made stars abroad instead of developing the abundant talents in Nigeria. He wondered why NFF would wish to reap where it did not sow, saying that Abraham was born and developed in England and should be obliged to play for England.“Yes, we should beg them since there is no meaningful, functional developmental programme at home. It’s the football Federation’s fault. If we have a functional development programme, no player would be in position to take the country for a ride. Ideally, the nucleus of the national team should be home-based. That is what I have always said, but nobody seems to be interested in listening to my advice,” a furious Onigbinde said. “Why won’t the young man make the statement on social media? I do not really blame him. What happens to the many talents in the Nigerian league back home? There are good players of Nigerian descent abroad quite alright but it seems they are practically begged to represent Nigeria now.“South Africa came to beat us on our ground with nine home-based players in their line-up, and we got the result we deserved with our foreign based players,” he stated.Since assuming office as the president of the NFF, Pinnick had never hidden his intention to woo players with Nigerian background who have featured only in age-group competitions for foreign countries. So far, he has not done badly with his moves. “The initial plan was to take our players in the various clubs, but now, what are trying to do is what we call VIP scouting – talking to these young players that are playing abroad to play for their father land.“If you talk about Tammy, he is like my son, his father and I grew up in the same neighborhood. So, when they talk about him, I just laugh because I know what to do. I am yet to see a Nigerian that is regretting being a Nigerian. No Nigerian, even if they have four or five passports, they are always excited being Nigerians. I can assure you that we shall get them to play for us at appropriate time,” he said.In an earlier chat with THISDAY, the NFF boss said Alex Nwobi’s decision play for Nigeria as against donning the colours of the Three Lions of England earned him the respect he’s enjoying at Arsenal today.“Nwobi started earning respect at his English club after he was given a national team call-up. Calling him to the national team made Arsenal to respect him and that is the truth. Today, he is one of the key players in Arsenal and we are proud of what federation had been able to do for his football,” Pinnick said.In a chat with THISDAY, former Nigerian international, Tajudeen Disu, said he was totally in support of having youthful players injected in the national team, but charged that the federation should endeavour to develop its own players through various developmental programmes and not depend on players developed by other countries.“How many developmental programmes have this present NFF initiated since coming on board? I am yet to see any. What do you expect of a NFF president that would abandon local matches and fly to England to watch Premier League matches? How can such a person think of any developmental programme? It just a pity that is the situation we found ourselves,” Disu said. “If you look at most of the teams that dominated football in the world, they are always clubs with youths that grew up together. The Ajax team that won the Champions League in 1995 and went on to play in the final the following year were mostly youths that developed together.“The same thing was what we experienced with the present Barcelona team that had dominated club’s football for almost a decade. It’s always an advantage if a team can boast of young players that develop together. Aside from the great understanding the players will enjoy, they will also dominate for a long time,” the former Captain of Abiola Babes of Abeokuta added.In the summer, Swansea City agreed to sign Abraham on loan from Chelsea for the 2017-18 season, having fought off competition from Newcastle and Brighton for the 19-year-old, who scored 23 goals in 40 appearances on loan at Championship side Bristol City in 2016-17.Abraham joined Chelsea at U-8 level and progressed through the clubs academy system. He 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.  In the 2016 edition of the UEFA Youth League, Abraham pitched in with a return of eight goals in nine matches, making him the tournament’s second highest goal scorer.  He carried his form over in to the FA Youth Cup and scored the winning goal in Chelsea’s victory over Manchester City. During the 2014–15 and 2015–16 seasons he scored 74 goals in 98 matches across all competitions for Chelsea’s various youth sides.His form at youth level caught the attention of interim manager, Guus Hiddink, who invited him to train with the senior team at the back end of the 2015-16 SeasonNigeria boasts the likes of Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Sone Aluko, Ola Aina, Shola Ameobi who played for England at the youth level. The dream of the Nigeria Football Federation President, Amaju Pinnick, is to have youngsters of Nigerian origin doing well in England and other leagues, including Swansea-loanee Tammy Abraham, wear the Super Eagles colours. With Nigeria just one leg to Russia 2018 World Cup, many thought that it would be difficult for any player to turn down NFF’s offer to don the national team’s colours. However, “I want to carry on playing for England,” was Abraham’s verdict after his meeting with Pinnick. In this report, Kunle Adewale examines what NFF needs to do to attract young talents.Tammy Abraham dismissed suggestions that he could switch international allegiance to Nigeria after NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, last week said the former England Under-19 and Under-21 player had agreed to play for the Super Eagles. But the on-loan Swansea forward, who joined Chelsea from Bristol in 2016, denied pledging to play for Nigeria, stating publicly that he wants to play for England at the senior level.last_img read more