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Ogu exemplifies patience and opportunism

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Can Tammy Abraham buck the trend for Nigerians representing England?

After weeks of speculation, Tammy Abraham's future appears to have been decided following a maiden England call-up on Thursday.

Abraham is one of three uncapped players named in Gareth Southgate's Three Lions squad to face Germany and Brazil in upcoming friendlies.

News that the 20-year-old was a target for Nigeria has been the source of some discomfort within the hallways of English football, to the extent that the player found it necessary to make a clarification that his allegiance remains with England, the country he has represented at youth level, despite claims to the contrary by NFF chief Amaju Pinnick.

This call-up by Gareth Southgate would appear to be a poorly disguised attempt to tie Abraham to a future with the Three Lions before Nigeria do the same.

However, it's worth noting that, with England's upcoming games friendly fixtures, the door wouldn't be closed for Nigeria should Abraham feature for Southgate's side.

However, the big question for the striker is whether or not he can break the hoodoo that players of Nigerian heritage before him have suffered in the past when representing the Three Lions.

And there is quite the list.

John Fashanu was one of the earliest England-born players who had a chance to represent Nigeria, but thumbed his nose at the then Green Eagles, choosing to represent the Three Lions instead.

By contrast, London-born Tunji Banjo did opt for the West African giants.

The late Ugo Ehiogu became the first black player to captain an England team in a competitive match when he led the U-21s out against the Netherlands. He opted to play for England, and ended up with four caps, all won in friendlies.

Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor also picked England, although he insisted that despite reports to the contrary, he was never contacted by Nigeria.

He ended up with three caps.

Striker Carlton Cole also rejected Nigeria advances, and finished with just seven caps for England.

For Nedum Onuoha, it was an even worse experience.

After making 20 appearances for the England U-21s, Onuoha rejected a chance to play for the Super Eagles, deciding instead to wait for a Three Lions call-up.

That call never came.

More recently, Jordon Ibe has been the latest player to snub Nigeria, despite an approach from former Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh. His international career has also stagnated at U-21 level, with the Bournemouth man yet to make the step up to the senior side.

His international struggles ought to be contrasted, however, with Dele Alli and Ross Barkley, both of whom represented England despite having Nigeria origins, and have over 20 appearances for the Three Lions.

Beyond England, the likes of Denis Aogo, Patrick Owomoyela (both Germany), and Stefano Okaka (Italy) are a few examples of players who have seen their international careers stagnate elsewhere.

On the flip side, players born or raised abroad who have chosen to represent Nigeria have largely enjoyed international success.

Manchester-born Efan Ekoku made 20 appearances and played at the 1994 World Cup, while George Abbey, who had a Welsh mother, won 18 caps and a Nations Cup bronze medal playing for the Super Eagles.

Victor Anichebe made 11 appearances and won an Olympic silver medal with Nigeria, and could have been part of the 2013 Nations Cup-winning team if he had not prematurely called time on his international career.

Former England youth international Victor Moses was part of that team, and not only won the Nations Cup title, but is on the verge of playing at his second World Cup finals.

World Cup-bound youngster Alex Iwobi, just 21 and a former youth international, has already made 13 appearances, more than any Nigerian-born player who has represented England, and is looking like a certainty for the trip to Russia.

Admittedly, England offers players a more professional structure and superior organisation compared to the chaotic Tower of Babel that is the Nigeria set-up. However, in the midst of that chaos, champions have emerged, while no West African-born talents have ever truly thrived with the Three Lions.

In the end, the heart will do what the heart wants, and we will all have to respect Abraham's decision and wish him well.

However, the antecedents are hard to shake off, and they don't bode well for Tammy.

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