Versatile Nigerian international Oluwasemilogo Ajayi was born in Crayford, England, and was eligible to play for the Three Lions, but he has revealed that he decided a long time ago to star for the Super Eagles.
Ajayi is leading West Bromwich Albion’s charge towards promotion to the Premier League, and the 26-year-old is incredibly proud of his Nigerian roots.
The centre-back was still a young prospect at Arsenal over six years ago when he honoured a call to represent Nigeria’s under-20 football team, the Flying Eagles.
He has since grown into one of the most highly-rated defenders in the English second-tier and a regular in coach Gernot Rohr-led national side.
The former Rotherham skipper, who missed the 2019 AFCON by the whiskers, was a key figure in defence when the Super Eagles secured an impressive one-all draw against a Neymar-inspired Brazil.
While the likes of Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori chose England over Nigeria, Ajayi has revealed how his connection to the land and culture of his parents helped him in making his international decision.
“The decision was made a long time ago,” the former Arsenal trainee told WBA’s official website.
“I decided to play for the Under-20s (Flying Eagles) when I was 19, and the goal was always to play for the first team.
“As a youngster, we would go there every two years to visit my mum and dad’s families… it was nice to meet my grandparents and all my cousins.
“It’s (Nigeria’s) a really nice country; mum’s family is in Lagos. She makes Nigerian food at home, but it’s different when you go out there and get the real thing. The ingredients are that bit fresher, I think. It’s lovely food; I really enjoy it.”