Lookman, Ekong and 4 Other Super Eagles AFCON 2023 Stars Born Outside Nigeria

Lookman, Ekong and 4 Other Super Eagles AFCON 2023 Stars Born Outside Nigeria

Elijah Odetokun
updated at February 7, 2024 at 1:08 PM
In this article:
Ademola Lookman logo
A. Lookman
Atalanta logoFNigeria logo
William Troost-Ekong logo
W. Troost-Ekong
PAOK Saloniki logoDNigeria logo
Joe Aribo logo
J. Aribo
Southampton logoMNigeria logo
Semi Ajayi logo
S. Ajayi
West Bromwich Albion logoDNigeria logo
Calvin Bassey logo
C. Bassey
Fulham logoDEngland logo
Ola Aina logo
O. Aina
Nottingham Forest logoDNigeria logo
Nigeria logo
Nigeria
Nigeria
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CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
CAF AFCON
Africa
  • Nigeria will face South Africa later in the AFCON 2023 semi-final
  • The Super Eagles are one of the best teams in the tournament so far
  • Their squad comprises dual nationals born outside the country

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations squads have over one-third of the players born outside the countries they represent. Only South Africa, Namibia and Egypt have all their players born in the country.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have witnessed growing numbers of players born outside of the country or dual nationals who have switched allegiance since the days of former coach Gernot Rohr.

Victor Osimhen, Frank Onyeka, Moses Simon, Ademola Lookman, Nigeria, Angola, AFCON 2023, Ivory Coast.
Super Eagles players celebrate Ademola Lookman's winner against Angola. Photo by Visionhaus.
Source: Getty Images

Sports Brief looks at the six players in Nigeria’s AFCON squad who were born outside the country via The Athletic.

Nigeria's AFCON players born in Europe

1. Ademola Lookman

Nigeria’s best player at the ongoing tournament, Lookman, who has scored three goals at the tournament, was born in London. He represented England at youth levels. If Nigeria reaches the final, he can win the AFCON on February 11, two years after FIFA approved his nationality switch.

2. William Troost-Ekong

The captain was born in the Netherlands to a Nigerian father and a Dutch mother. He played for the European country in his youth but opted to pledge his international allegiance to the African nation. He has been one of the best players, helping the team achieve four consecutive clean sheets.

3. Ola Aina

Per Transfermarkt, the Chelsea academy graduate has played all minutes of the 2023 AFCON bar eight in the first game against Equatorial Guinea. Aina was born in London and played for the Young Lions at the youth level before pledging his international allegiance to Nigeria in 2017.

4. Calvin Bassey

Bassey was born in Italy but grew up in London. He made his professional debut for Rangers before moving to Ajax two years later. After a season in Holland, he returned to London with Fulham. He made his debut for Nigeria in 2022. He is pivotal to Jose Peseiro's 3-4-3 formation, playing as a left centre-back and left wing-back.

5. Semi Ajayi

Another Super Eagles star born in London – Ajayi, came through the Charlton Athletic Academy and was on Arsenal’s books between 2013 and 2015, during which he first played for Nigeria U20. He currently plays for West Brom. At AFCON, he plays right centre-back of a three-man defence.

6. Joe Aribo

Aribo has been a part player in this tournament and had only three minutes in the 1-0 win over Angola in the quarter-final. He was born in Camberwell, London. He never represented England at youth levels. He made his debut against Ukraine under Gernot Rohr in 2019.

The decision of Maduka Okoye to withdraw from the national team for a while denied the team another foreign-born player. The goalkeeper was born in Germany. Alex Iwobi grew up in London, even though he was born in Lagos.

Ekong explains Fela’s tattoo

Sports Brief reported on Ekong explaining his Fela tattoo, which he has drawn on his left elbow, as a tribute to late music legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Though not born in Nigeria, the captain identifies with the country and even has the Nigerian coat of arms inked on his body.

Authors
Elijah Odetokun photo
Elijah Odetokun
Elijah Odetokun is Reuters-trained journalist with three years of experience having previously worked at Daily Times Nigeria, OmaSports and El Futbolero.