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Brian Idowu: My Russian Coach Told Me To Ignore Nigeria





Nigerian fans would have watched one of their own strutting his stuff in Russia’s colours at the 2018 World Cup if the European country had not dilly-dallied.

Perhaps Brian Idowu would have jumped at the opportunity to represent the country where he was born.

Until the 25-year-old energetic and tough-tackling defender made his international debut in the Super Eagles’4-2 defeat of South American giants Argentina in a friendly affair in Krasnodar, Russia,  on Tuesday, he   was eligible to play  for both  Russia and Nigeria because he holds dual citizenship.

The utility  Amkar Perm player was born in St Petersburg, Russia,  where his  architect Nigerian  father and his medical doctor  half-Nigerian  and half-Russian mother met while attending university.

Idowu, whose middle name is Oladapo,  was touted as a potential star in the Russian  set-up following his standout performances in Amkar’s campaign  in the 2015-16   Russian Premier League season. With the player’s performance  turning him into something of a cult hero in the team, some sections of the Russian media tipped him to represent the national team  at the first World Cup holding in the country since its inception in 1930.

Now, the player, who scored on his international debut after coming on as a half-time substitute for Ola Aina at the Krasnodar Stadium, has revealed that he was forced to consider representing Nigeria when Russia failed to make their intentions known despite his week-in-week-out head-turning performances  at Amkar.

The Russian Football Union was reportedly keen on having Idowu, who can play as a  left-back, right-back, central defender, winger and central midfielder, in the national team. But  Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov, who never gave Idowu a chance on the first team when he managed  Amkar from  2013 to  2014, refused to invite him.

Idowu grew frustrated with Cherchesov’s apparent lack of interest in his services – and decided to listen to Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr when the 64-year-old German  sounded him out about his Nigeria project.

But his Russian  coach at   Amkar  Gadzhi Gadzhiyev wanted Idowu to play for the country where he was born and tried to stop him from switching his international allegiance to Nigeria.

“Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr contacted me and told me that he was  following me,” ESPN quoted Idowu as saying on Thursday.

“He wanted to invite me to the squad, but that was impossible because I didn’t have a Nigerian passport.

“Gadzhiev said that such a call is not incidental, and I should keep progressing. He advised me to wait and see if I get called by Russia as well. I don’t see why I can’t play for Russia if I keep getting better, but they have good players like Mario Fernandes  in my position. They don’t miss me.”

Apart from guaranteeing him a  place in his World Cup squad to Russia 2018, Rohr  is looking to  Idowu to play dual roles  at the tournament.


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