The UEFA European Championship fondly called ‘Euro’ kicks off today, a year after it was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Euro 2020 is the 16th edition of the biggest competition for European football Nations.
The 1 month competition will run from today Friday June 11th – Sunday July 11th 2021, across 11 host countries, with 24 participating teams. Of the participating teams, some contain players of African descents including Nigeria. We take a look at five players of Nigerian descent who have been called up to represent their respective National Teams.
David Olatokunbo Alaba (Austria)
The World-class defender who recently made a switch from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid is the first on our list. He was born to a Nigerian Father George Alaba and Filipino Mother Gina Alaba in the city of Vienna Austria on the June 24, 1992.
Alaba has made over 400 appearances for Bayern Munich since 2010, winning 27 honours including ten Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Champions League in 2013 and 2020, as well as being named in the UEFA Team of the Year three times. David Alaba who is also the Austrian captain has been touted as a big miss for Nigeria. Representing Austria since the age of 16, he became the youngest player in the history of the Austrian national team. He has made 81 appearances for the National team, scoring 14 goals. He was voted Austrian Footballer of the Year on seven occasions. He has also won the Austrian Sports Personality of the Year in 2013 & 2014.
Bukayo Ayoyinka Saka (England)
His name is all you need to ascertain that he is of Nigerian descent. Bukayo Saka was born in Ealing, England on 5 September 2001. The versatile player who can play as a winger, left-back or central midfielder is one of the wonderkids in World Football.
Bukayo Saka has been one of the few stand-out stars for Arsenal ever since he made his debut for the Gunners making 45 appearances in the 20/21 season across all competitions. He has won the FA Cup and Community Shield with Arsenal. He has also won numerous Player of the Month Award for arsenal.
Saka has represented England at under-16, under-17, under-18, under-19 and under-21 level before getting his Senior team call up on 1 October 2020 in a 3–0 victory over Wales. He has played four times for the Three Lions of England, scoring once.
Jamal Musiala (Germany)
Musiala was born in Stuttgart, Germany to a British-Nigerian father and German mother on the 26th of February 2003. He however spent most of his childhood in England, another country he once represented in his early teenage stage. Musiala was also eligible to play for Nigeria, until he received his first call up to the senior team of Germany for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in March 2021. He finally made his debut on March 25, 2021 as a 79th minute substitute in a 3–0 win against Iceland.
On 19th May 2021, he was called up to the squad for the UEFA Euro 2020, after a brilliant season with his clubside Bayern Munich where he played 27 times scoring 6 goals. The teenager’s rise has been meteoric and we hope to see him feature at some point in the Euro competition.
Manuel Obafemi Akanji is a Swiss professional footballer who plays as a defender for Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund and the Swiss National Team. He was born on the 19th of July 1995 in Wiesendangen , Switzerland to a Swiss mother and a Nigerian father. The right footed defender made a total of 41 appearances for the German club in the just concluded season. Akanji has also made a total of 29 appearances for the Swiss National team, since making his debut on 9th June 2017.
Karim Onisiwo (Austria)
Karim Onisiwo isn’t a popular name in Europe but one in his country Austria. He was born in Vienna, Austria on 17th of March 1992. He is a striker for Mainz in Germany, the same clubside where Super Eagles Striker Taiwo Awoniyi plays.
He made 41 appearnaces scoring 6 goals and 3 assists for Mainz in this last season in the Bundesliga
Onisiwo made his debut for the senior Austria squad as a substitute, in a friendly against Switzerland in November 2015. In all , he has made 11 appearances forAustria, scoring 1 goal.