Bolton’s latest Nigerian star Oladapo Afolayan has declared his intention to play for Nigeria ahead of England at the international level.
Afolayan was born in England, but he is eligible to play for Nigeria through his Nigerian parents. The 24-year-old currently plays for Bolton and has been compared to another Nigerian who once dazzled fans at the Reebok Stadium, now the University of Bolton Stadium.
Afolayan, the new Jay-Jay?
In 2002, the Trotters signed former Super Eagles captain Austin Jay-Jay Okocha from PSG, entertaining fans with his skills and trickery in his four years at the club. The ex-Nigeria international achieved legendary status at the club and was voted the best player to play at Bolton’s stadium.
Sixteen years after Okocha left the club, Bolton have another Nigerian, who has been dubbed the ‘new Okocha’.
Like Okocha, Afolayan also has excellent dribbling skills, although he is predominantly a winger. The 24-year-old scored 12 goals and seven assists in 44 League One appearances for the Trotters.
When asked about the comparison between him and Okocha, Afolayan said he felt honoured to be compared to a player he has looked up to since he started his career.
“My family is Nigerian, and I see myself as Nigerian, so Jay-Jay Okocha is someone I’ve looked up to my entire life – it was incredible to meet him when he visited this season,” Afolayan told Manchester Evening News.
“To be compared to him is an honour,” he added.
England or Nigeria?
With Afolayan’s profile on the rise, there could be a battle between England and Nigeria over his allegiance. However, the 24-year-old wants to represent the Super Eagles at the international level.
“Yeah, I would,” Afolayan told Manchester Evening News when asked if he would consider playing for Nigeria.
“It’s something I’ve thought about. Hopefully, I can keep playing well and get on their radar,” he added.