Euro 2024: Injury misfortune deals major blow to Nigeria’s Zirkzee chances

Nigerian football fans have been dealt a disappointing blow with the news that sought-after striker Joshua Zirkzee received a Dutch national team call-up for Euro 2024. This comes after Atalanta midfielder, Teun Koopmeiners, was forced to withdraw due to injury.

While Zirkzee's inclusion in the Dutch squad is a positive development for the player's career, it extinguishes any lingering hopes Nigerians might have held of seeing him represent the Super Eagles on the international stage. 

Gernot Rohr, the former manager of the Nigeria national team, had previously attempted to convince Zirkzee to switch allegiances early in his coaching tenure. Zirkzee, with his Nigerian heritage through his mother, was seen as a potential asset for the Super Eagles.

ICONSPORT 120459 0059
Photo by Icon Sport

The allure of the Nigerian team, known for its passionate fans and exciting brand of football, is undeniable. This stands in contrast to the Dutch side, which has sometimes been labeled as underachievers despite their undeniable talent.

Now Koeman has added Zirkzee to the squad as a replacement for Koopmeiners, even though they play in very different roles.

This selection holds particular weight considering Zirkzee's lack of senior experience for the Netherlands. Although he boasts a successful stint with the U-21 team (7 goals in 19 appearances), he hasn't yet featured for the full national side.

However, Zirkzee's impressive club form can't be ignored. He notched 12 goals and 7 assists in 37 competitive games for Bologna this season, attracting interest from major European clubs like AC Milan, Juventus, Arsenal, and Manchester United.

Prior to joining Bologna in 2022, Zirkzee honed his skills in the youth academies of Dutch clubs ADO Den Haag and Feyenoord. He then moved on to Bayern Munich, where he eventually earned a spot on the first team. Now, he finds himself competing for a place in the Dutch national team for Euro 2024. 

The Netherlands face a tough challenge in Group D, where they'll battle Poland, Austria, and France.

Avatar photo
Toyosi Afolayan

Toyosi Afolayan is a sports journalist who breathes life into the games we love. He loves to combine insightful analysis with historical background, creating a richer understanding of sports. Afolayan's expertise ranges from captivating narratives to live broadcasts, captivating audiences across platforms like Ojbsport, AllNigeriaSoccer, TVC Entertainment, Bounce Networks, Kwara TV, ICIR, EaglesTracker, and NFF TV. His background in History and International Studies adds depth, revealing the connections between sports, politics, and national identity.