Having to choose where your international football allegiance lies can be a tricky one. You just need to look at players such as John Fashanu and Gabriel Agbonlahor whose international careers didn't go as they would have liked with England, leading to somewhat regret for not choosing their other nationality which was Nigeria.
Watford captain, 50 Nigeria caps, Troost-Ekong is living the life [Pulse Contributor Opinion]
The Nigerian centre-back has reached certain milestones lately that is giving him all the plaudits.
Playing for Nigeria of course doesn't guarantee you're going to get minutes. One just needs to look at British-born Nigerian Sone Aluko who has just seven caps to his name till date and has been chasing shadows ever since.
Then of course there are those who decided to ditch Nigeria and it is paying dividends. This is particular for players like Dele Alli, Bukayo Saka and Tammy Abraham.
The dilemma of where to choose to play international football comes with career prospects. If one is playing regularly for a big club side, it is usual to see them lean towards the European country they were born, but if prospects of playing for clubs that are not that huge, they lean towards playing for Nigeria.
For Troost-Ekong, a centre-back born and raised in the Netherlands to a Nigerian father and Dutch mother, he chose to represent Nigeria and it’s not been any regret ever since.
He first started out by playing at Fulham at youth and then Tottenham Hotspur before beginning his senior career at Groningen. Troost-Ekong would go on to play for Gent, Bursaspor, Udinese and currently Watford. It was while he was at Groningen, he committed to playing for Nigeria and earned his first cap in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Chad on June 13, 2015
Since then, he's never looked back, going on to form a strong partnership with German-born Leon Balogun at the heart of defence and dubbed the "Oyinbo Wall".
Troost-Ekong has played at the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, winning bronze in the latter. He also represented the country at the 2016 summer Olympics and won bronze. He is looking forward to another Afcon outing in 2022 with the World Cup also on the horizon that same year.
The Haarlem-born player recently won his 50th cap in a Nigeria shirt during the Super Eagles' 2-0 win over Liberia in Lagos, becoming the 26th player to achieve that landmark.
Still only 28, Troost-Ekong could certainly target another 50 caps if his career is long lasting.
"On a personal note, it is very special to play my 50th cap for the Super Eagles. Onwards and upwards from here" Troost-Ekong said in a Twitter post after reaching his Super Eagles milestone.
Like it wasn't enough achievement, Troost-Ekong had the honour of wearing the captain's armband in Watford’s Premier League home match over Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend. Though the game ended in a 2-0 defeat, it did not take away what was a fine occasion for him.
"Absolute honour to lead the boys out for the first time over the weekend. Will always do my best for the team" he said after the game.
It's not been a great start in Watford’s return to the Premier League with three defeats since the opening day 3-2 win over Aston Villa that saw Senegal internal Ismaila Sarr and Nigeria forward Emmanuel Dennis both combine to score. Watford have failed to score since that opener and Troost-Ekong clearly acknowledges things must get better for the Hertfordshire side.
“Frustrating result to say the least. Thanks to all the fans at the Vic for the continuous support. We will keep working and improving" he also stated after last weekend's loss.
Watford’s poor start doesn't do it well for Troost-Ekong either, whom some questioned whether his move to Vicarage Road was worth it while they were still in the Championship.
To have however become a household name at the club to the point of wearing the captain’s armband and reaching 50 caps for Nigeria, things couldn't be going any better for him.
Watford’s fortunes can turn around very quickly and we could see them higher up the table. It just requires them to put in a little extra and should that end up yielding the desired results, Troost-Ekong would have definitely succeeded in proving his critics wrong.
Kunle is an avid writer with interest in topics on sports, politics and health. His articles have featured in Goal.com, Opera News and Vanguard News. He holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in International Relations and is an advocate for people living with Hydrocephalus and other neurological conditions.
Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.
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