Reports circulating in the local Nigerian media suggest that Tottenham Hotspur’s defender, Destiny Udogie, remains eligible to play for the Super Eagles of Nigeria, Soccernet.ng reports.
Udogie, a 20-year-old born in Italy, boasts Nigerian heritage and has notably participated in various youth competitions for Italy, earning two caps at the senior level for the Italian national team.
The situation of being capped for two national teams is an uncommon scenario, raising questions about his potential eligibility to represent Nigeria.
Dual nationality players and FIFA’s regulations
In the past, FIFA permitted players to represent any country they held citizenship in. However, in 2004, FIFA introduced stricter regulations, requiring a “clear connection” between the player and the country they wish to represent. This included limitations on switching nationalities, especially concerning competitive fixtures.
FIFA’s updated rules in 2021 allowed players to switch national teams under certain conditions, primarily emphasizing the number and context of competitive matches played before turning 21.
Destiny Udogie’s dilemma
Despite Udogie’s recent debut for Italy in an official Euro qualification match against Malta, the latest FIFA regulations theoretically allow players to switch allegiance to another country they have strong ties to, irrespective of playing in official matches.
However, with Udogie nearing his 21st birthday on November 28, his chances of representing Nigeria at either the U-23 or senior level seem uncertain, as per FIFA regulations.
Furthermore, the Nigerian Football Federation faces challenges with numerous talents seeking to represent the country, possibly lowering the priority of considering Udogie, especially with players like Bruno Onyemeachi, Zaidu Sanusi, and Jamilu Collins already in line.
Given these circumstances, the likelihood of Udogie playing for Nigeria appears slim unless FIFA’s regulations undergo further changes.