Liverpool midfielder Ovie Ejaria has become the latest foreign-born player to shun their country of birth in favour of playing for Nigeria.
The 22-year-old was born in London to Nigerian parents but despite having represented the Three Lions at youth level has switched allegiance to the country of his ancestors.
News of Ejaria’s switch to the Super Eagles was first tweeted on Wednesday by ESPN journalist Colin Udoh.
Ovie Ejaria has committed to Nigeria, an @NGSuperEagles team source tells me. Paperwork is already with FIFA, and Nigerian passport needs to be renewed. All but settled for the Liverpool man who is on loan at Reading #SuperEaglesInsider #Team9jaStrong
— Colin NOT Collins (@ColinUdoh) May 6, 2020
He is currently on loan at Reading and has made 35 appearances for the Royals this season scoring three goals and laying on four assists.
The development is further confirmation that the current Nigeria Football Federation is intent on building a formidable national team by encouraging eligible foreign-born players to declare for Nigeria.
His addition to the Super Eagles bolsters a squad already brimming with young exciting talents including in-demand striker Victor Osimhen, forward Samuel Chukwueze and midfielder Wilfred Ndidi.
Ejaria’s switch follows on the heels of Dutch-born Cyriel Dessers who declared for Nigeria and was in line to make his debut in the 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Sierra Leone before sporting activities were halted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Other players to have shunned the Three Lions in favour of the Super Eagles in recent times include Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Semi Ajayi and Joe Aribo.
It is unclear if Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr had prior knowledge of discussions between the NFF and Ovie or that he approved of Ovie’s switch.
The NFF had included the requirement that Rohr must develop domestic players for the national team in new contract terms sent to the coach and it is not clear what effect Ovie’s declaration would have on Rohr’s future.