In the days after Liverpool loanee, Ovia Ejaria switched his allegiance to Nigeria, Torino ace Ola Aina has defended his decision to play for the three-time African champions over England for his international career
Former Chelsea academy graduate Aina has revealed that the guarantee of immediate senior national team football offered to him by Nigeria convinced him to ditch England three years ago.
Born in England to Nigerian parents, the versatile defender played for England youth teams across all levels from U-16 to U-20.
But the 23-year-old shot to limelight after earning his professional debut under then-Chelsea manager Antonio Conte in a 3–2 victory over Bristol Rovers in the EFL Cup.
A year on loan at Hull City revealed that the youngster could mix it up with the big boys, attracting the attention of top Nigeria football officials.
Aina quickly switched his allegiance to Nigeria the following year and has since gone on to feature for the Gernot Rohr-led side at the 2019 African Cup of Nations.
Seventeen appearances and an AFCON bronze medal later, Aina believes that deciding to switch allegiances after developing through the ranks in England was the smart choice for him.
“England was never going to give me a chance to play for the senior team, that’s the difference. Nigeria gave me the pathway to play for their senior team,” Aina was quoted as saying in an Instagram Live interview with the Super Eagle media team.
“I probably would have made it there at some point, but Nigeria told me I can make it here now, it was a no-brainer.”