ChukaMVP Reverie: Dele Alli. The Perfect Midfielder Nigeria Missed …
Back in October 2015 when Nigeria celebrated her 55th year of Independence from England, news …
Back in October 2015 when Nigeria celebrated her 55th year of Independence from England, news broke out that the nephew of legendary midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha had chosen to represent the Super Eagles over The Three Lions.
This claim to Nigeria from England on this day was however limited to colonial freedom and Alex Iwobi; with another Nigerian born player in Dele Alli opting to represent the English instead of dawning our green and white.
Bamidele Alli, born and brought up in Milton Keynes England, has had a meteoric rise this season. His performances for Tottenham Hotspur have fueled the fire on whether the 19 year old should be taken to the Euros. This is a lad who was playing U-21 football in September of 2015.
The Spurs midfielder has gone on to win four caps for England with a stunning strike against France to open his international accounts. England has gain has become Nigeria s biggest loss.
It would not be the first time the Super Eagles would be turned down by players to represent England; Gabby Agbolanhor, Nedum Onuoha, Ugo Ehiogu, Carlton Cole, Ross Barkley, Jordan Ibe and on the female stage Eniola Aluko are some of the familiar rejections but somehow Dele Alli s decision to join England could be the biggest of all rejections. Since Okocha s retirement in 2006, the search for the midfield maestro s heir continues with players like Christain Obodo, Paul Obiefule, Mikel Obi, all failing to step into his shoes with Rabiu Ibrahim touted to come the closet. Ibrahim for all his comparison possesses the trickery and to some extent passing abilities of Jay-Jay but lacks the mental will and composure the former Bolton man possessed. To suggest Dele Alli could easily be the heir to Okocha might sound far-fetched but it is not necessarily a vanishing point. Described by David Haytner of The Guardian, the could-have-been Nigerian international is said to have a crowd-pleasing style, direct, fearless and combative. The Spurs midfielder is easily a box-to-box as the legend was and has the fearless attributes, excitement, and freedom Okocha had. Nigeria s middle of the park has lacked these abilities with no central midfielder coming close to his dynamism. While this is not intended to bash the current up, having Dele Alli in the famous green and white colors would have been a plus. Full of energy blessed with myriad of football skills and most importantly, an eye for goal, a Dele Alli-Rabiu Ibrahim combo in the midfield could easily be a match made in heaven; such exciting pair could easily reignite a dwindling fan affinity towards the Super Eagles. The Spurs player has drawn comparisons to Liverpool legend Steve Gerrard and one can only imagine the heights the boy can reach with him bursting to the scene at this young stage with a high level of maturity and great personality as managers and peers have described him to have. As we cannot languish over spilled milk, the questions have to arise on why players are rejecting fatherland to play for other countries. Short-lived national careers of Agbonlahor, Cole, and Onuoha who is yet to be called up should serve as reminders as to why the Super Eagles should be a secure job but that was not the case here and the answers are glaring. Poor administrations, loss of footballing identity are some to mention, coupled with the notion of how less persuasive we are in pursuing these players. Bonuses not paid in time, poor logistics, are the notable examples and on persuasion, a notable case study should be that of David Alaba who chose to play for Austria over Nigeria after showing interest in playing for the country.. While it should be commendable if the NFF is taking a stance on not submitting to foreign an introspective approach should be taken to deal with these shortcomings.
Dele Alli s footballing rise would continue to be a reminder in what should be the biggest loss in the dual nationality battle and would generate the popular what-if question in the long run. What if Alli played at the Teslim Balogun Stadium? or better still, What if Bamidele played for the Super Eagles?