33 year old English footballer Carlton Cole would have represented Nigeria when he was called up in 2004 were it not for his then club Chelsea and manager Jose Mourinho.
12 years ago, 20 year old Cole was called up by Nigeria to play for the Super Eagles in a friendly game against the Republic of Ireland, but he spurned the chance after a chat with manager Jose Mourinho.
Although he went on to become a big hit with the England U20s, he never truly made the step up to the senior teams of the Three Lions of England, but he says he has no regret turning down Nigeria even though he could have had a better International career with the Super Eagles.
“I was called up by Nigeria in 2004 but Chelsea told me that it was in my best interests not to go,” Cole said.
“They said it would affect my England future and interfere with things at club level as well. As a young player I was advised not to take up the Nigeria offer and I supported that.
“They want players with Nigerian links who have played in the Premiership but I was born in England and consider that to be my country so I want to play for them.
“I could have been playing alongside Kanu whom I know through his heart foundation and have been to a number of functions in connection with that.
“I look up to him. He’s one of the best players in the world and if I achieve half as much as he has done, then I would be very happy.”
Cole admitted: “My father is Nigerian and my mother comes from Sierra Leone but I’ve never been a follower of Nigeria and my interest in African football is only occasional.