Torino wing-back Ola Aina has defended his decision of choosing Nigeria over England for his international career.
The former Chelsea youngster said the assurance he received from the Nigerian football authority made him ditch his country of birth for the three-time African champions in May 2017.
Aina was born to Nigerian parents in London, and he played for England youth teams across all levels from U-16 to U-20.
Since his debut outing for the Super Eagles in a World Cup qualifier against Zambia in 2017, the 23-year-old has racked up 17 appearances, including the five matches he played at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, where they finished third.
Aina highlighted the factors behind his decision to switch allegiances after developing through the ranks in England.
“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.
“I probably would have made it there at some point but c told me I can make it here now, it was a no-brainer.”
Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria is the latest England-born player to commit his international future to Nigeria, following in the footsteps of Aina and Alex Iwobi.
The Reading midfielder has submitted his paperwork to Fifa to approve the international switch and Aina has welcomed his decision to play for the Super Eagles.
“Yes, if you have the roots and from Nigeria, you should be welcomed to play for Nigeria, no one should be felt like they are pushed aside,” he added.
In the three years he’s spent with the African nation, Aina has made himself a versatile player who plays on either side of the defence of Gernot Rohr’s team.
Aina picked Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze when asked about the most difficult player he has faced in the Super Eagles set-up.
“I would say Samuel Chukwueze, he is a tricky player even in training, he is business-minded,” he said.
Aina is in his second season at Torino, after joining the Serie A club permanently from Chelsea last summer.
He played 20 league games for the Bull before the league was suspended indefinitely in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.