Millions of Nigerian fans would have watched one of their own strutting his stuff in Russia’s colours at the 2018 World Cup if the European country had not dilly-dallied.
Perhaps Brian Idowu would have jumped at a chance to represent the country where he was born.Until the 25-year-old energetic and tough-tackling defender made his international debut in the Super Eagles’ 4-2 defeat of South American giants Argentina in a friendly match in Krasnodar, Russia, on Tuesday, he was eligible to play for both Russia and Nigeria because he holds dual citizenship.
The utility Amkar Perm player was born in St Petersburg, Russia, where his architect Nigerian father and his medical doctor half-Nigerian and half-Russian mother met while attending university.
But his Russian coach at Amkar Gadzhi Gadzhiyev wanted Idowu to play for the country where he was born and tried to stop him from switching his international allegiance to Nigeria.
“[But] Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr contacted me and told me that he was following me,” ESPN quoted Idowu as saying on Thursday.
“He wanted to invite me to the squad, but that was impossible because I didn’t have a Nigerian passport.
“Gadzhiev said that such a call is not incidental, and I should keep progressing. He advised me to wait and see if I get called by Russia as well. I don’t see why I can’t play for Russia if I keep getting better, but they have good players like Mario Fernandes in my position. They don’t miss me.”
Apart from guaranteeing him a place in his World Cup squad to Russia 2018, Rohr is looking to Idowu to play dual roles at the tournament.