Michael Folorunsho: How Peseiro's Decision Denied Nigeria Napoli Star Who Made Euro Debut With Italy

Michael Folorunsho: How Peseiro's Decision Denied Nigeria Napoli Star Who Made Euro Debut With Italy

Ero Samson
updated at June 20, 2024 at 2:30 PM
In this article:
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Super Eagles logo
Super Eagles
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Michael Folorunsho logo
M. Folorunsho
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CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
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  • Michael Folorunsho was one of the players who missed out joining on the Super Eagles squad at the 2023 AFCON
  • The versatile Napoli midfielder was eligible to play for both the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Italy's national team
  • The Italian Serie A star recently made his competitive debut with Luciano Spalletti's side at the Euro in Germany

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The Italian national team recently bolstered its ranks with the addition of Michael Folorunsho to its array of exciting talents.

The versatile midfielder, who enjoyed a stellar 2023/24 Serie A season, had long been denied the opportunity to showcase his skills on the international stage.

However, with the appointment of Luciano Spalletti as coach, the Nigeria-eligible forward finally donned the blue and white colours of Gli Azzurri, making his competitive debut at the UEFA European Championship against Albania on June 15.

Michael Folorunsho, Nigeria, Super Eagles, Jose Peseiro, UEFA Euro, Albania
Italy's Michael Folorunsho during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match against Albania at Football Stadium Dortmund on June 15, 2024. Image: Photo Agency.
Source: Getty Images

A representative of the 26-year-old once explained how the Nigerian team missed out on the services of the midfielder, attributing the situation to the actions of former manager, Jose Peseiro.

How Nigeria missed out on Folorunsho

In an interview with OwnGoalNigeria, the agent of the Lazio academy graduate emphasised that the midfielder was eager to represent Nigeria.

However, coach Peseiro’s delayed decision-making meant Folorunsho was not included in the squad for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

"Folorunsho really wanted to play in the AFCON. I tried to help by texting the coach, but he didn't reply. When I called, he answered, and after I introduced myself as Folorunsho's representative, he said would get back to me.
"However, he never did, even after I tried calling again. he didn’t pick up or return my calls. Two weeks later, the Nigeria squad for the tournament was announced, and Folorunsho wasn't in it. That's how things turned out this way."

Folorunsho's impressive performance eventually caught the attention of Spalletti, who called him up to the national team during the March international window and again for the Euros.

The midfielder, whose stock continues to rise, featured as a substitute in Italy's opening fixture against Albania and is expected to play a crucial role in the upcoming match against Spain.

According to data courtesy of Fotmob, the Napoli star was involved in six goals and won 97% of aerial duels he contested during the recently concluded campaign.

Folorunsho scores worldie

Sports Brief also previously reported that Folorunsho scored a goal-of-the-season contender in Hellas Verona’s draw against Juventus.

The midfielder converted a volley from the edge of the 18-yard box, leaving goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny, with no chance of saving.

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Ero Samson
Samson Ero is a sports journalist with a track record of over five years in the Nigerian media industry. He graduated from Nigerian Institute of Journalism (2021-2023).