Nigeria Football: Amaju Pinnick wants Ebere Eze to play for Nigeria

Author: BBC Sport
Ebere Eze

Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick  is persuading  Queen's Park Rangers  U-21 midfielder  Ebere Eze  to play for Nigeria rather than England at senior level.

Eze, who was born in England to Nigerian parents, played twice for the Three Lions at under-21 level in November.

But Pinnick wants Eze to switch allegiances to boost Nigeria's midfield as they plan for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

"We need to make a solid representation at Qatar 2022 and it starts with improving on your squad with quality players like Eze," he insisted.

"Can you imagine a midfield with Ndidi, Aribo, Etebo and Eze? it is one that will improve our squad."

Pinnick has already held meetings with the 21-year-old and his parents and believes they have gone well.

"I had a positive meeting with Ebere Eze in London and I spoke to his parents as well," said Pinnick.

"He requested for the chance to continue to focus on his club career which is going well so far, and that further progress will be made in due course

"But I am confidently hopeful that he will play for Nigeria soon."

Eze, who has scored seven goals and provided four assists so far this season, is considered  one of the hottest prospects outside of the Premier League.

His late penalty double and overall performance in a 3-2 away win at Hull City in October were particularly eye-catching.

However, Pinnick's public pursuit of the player has come under criticism from fans and local media, after a similar approach with Tammy Abraham ended in failure as the Chelsea striker chose to play for England instead.

"I have no regrets talking to Eze, who visited me at home with his girlfriend," he added.

Nigeria have previously succeeded in snapping up former England youth internationals like Sone Aluko, Victor Moses, Shola Ameobi, Alex Iwobi and Ola Aina for the Super Eagles.

Eze was one of a number of British-born players, along with Ola Aina and Chuka Akpom, invited to train with the Nigeria squad in London back in March 2017 - following a cancelled friendly with Burkina Faso.

Uncapped and overlooked by coach Gernot Rohr after the London gathering, the former Wycombe Wanderers loanee then went on to earn seven caps for the England under-20's between 2018 and 2019.

In August 2018, he agreed a new contract to stay at Championship club QPR until 2021.