African News

Nigeria, England, Scotland battle for whiz kid

9 October 2006 at 22:23 | 3191 views

By Abu B. Shaw, Vanguard London Bureau Chief

Soccer sensation Gabriel Agbonlahor(photo) of English Premiership club Aston Villa
is currently at the centre of a tug of war between three national football
associations in Africa and the United Kingdom for the services of the
20-year-old.

The scramble for this teenage protégé by Nigeria’s Super Eagles, the 3 Lions
of England and the Tartan Army of Scotland was sparked by England’s Under 21
Coach Peter Taylor who recently appealed to the England FA to give Gabriel
Agbonlahor his full England debut before it is too late.

Coach Taylor argued giving Gabriel his full senior England call now would
automatically foil any attempt by Nigeria and Scotland to lure the youngster
to play for their respective national teams.

FIFA rules stipulate that any player who plays for a senior national side,
even once, can never play for another country. A footballer can play for a
junior national team of one country but FIFA law can still allow him the
ultimate right to play for a senior national team of another country.

Already, Gabriel Agbonlahor has taken a giant step towards playing for the
senior England team after he earned his first Under-21 cap for England in
the Euro Championship encounter against Germany on Friday, October 6, 2006
which England won 1-0 at Coventry.

It is visibly worrying for England however as Agbonlahor’s impressive
Premiership displays so far for his rejuvenated Aston Villa team- which
include bagging a vital equaliser against English champions Chelsea - have
alerted Nigerian and Scotland bosses.

The whizkid is biologically qualified to play for any of the three countries
seeking his services. Gabriel was born in Birmingham, England, to a Nigerian
father and a Scottish mother. Interestingly, he has never visited Nigeria
and Scotland also of United Kingdom.

Gabriel said: “My dad, Samson, wants me to play for England but if I don’t
get the chance he wants me to play for Nigeria. I can play for Scotland as
well.”

Gabriel Agbonlahor’s great talent is paralled only by teenage protégés like
England’s Wayne Rooney, Argentine’s Lionel Messi, Portugal’s Cristiano
Ronaldo, Brazil’s Robinho and Cesc Fabregas of Spain.

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