Joshua Zirkzee: A huge blow to Nigeria after Netherlands call-up?

The buzz surrounding Joshua Zirkzee and his call-up to the Dutch national team's provisional squad has undoubtedly caught the attention of football enthusiasts back home in Nigeria. 

To some, it’s a disappointing end to a chase that would have meant that more quality addition comes into the national team.

While to others, the country shouldn’t have even bothered to table a chase in the place as anyone who indicates interest in the team in terms of switching nationalities should get a fair chance as it is not a priority given that Nigeria currently have an array of options.

Here's a young man, born to a Nigerian mother and a Dutch father, who has been tearing up Serie A with Bologna, and now finds himself on the cusp of representing the Netherlands at international level.

But amidst the excitement solely from the Dutch angle and the fact that the dad might have to appease the mum for coming out tops in this chase, what impact would such a decision mean to Joshua Zirkzee and Nigeria? 

Joshua Zirkzee: A loss for Nigeria?

For many Nigerian fans, Zirkzee's inclusion in the Dutch squad feels like a missed opportunity. A player with dual nationality, whose talent and potential could have bolstered the Super Eagles' squad in general.

Former handler of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr, certainly recognised Zirkzee's abilities and made efforts to convince him early on to switch nationalities while he was Nigeria coach.

But in the end, Zirkzee's heart led him to choose the Netherlands.

It's a decision that resonates with many Nigerians who understand the pull of identity and heritage.

Zirkzee's connection to Nigeria through his mother is undeniable, and there was hope that he might choose to represent the country on the international stage.

Especially considering the global appeal and excitement that resonates with the Super Eagles of Nigeria, as opposed to the Dutch side who have often been dubbed as ‘perennial underachievers’. 

However, like many young athletes faced with a dual-national dilemma, Zirkzee ultimately followed his instincts and opted for the country of his birth with no being able to ascertain just yet if his dad was a huge influence.

But what does Zirkzee's choice mean for Nigerian football? Some may see it as a setback, a loss of talent that could have strengthened the team. Yet, it's also an opportunity to reflect on the depth of talent within Nigeria's footballing community.

Nigeria has a proud history of producing world-class players, both domestically and abroad, and Zirkzee's decision is a reminder of the rich pool of talent the country possesses and has yet to consciously harness.

Joshua Zirkzee
Photo by Icon Sport

Joshua Zirkzee and his rise to football stardom

Moreover, Zirkzee's journey is a story that resonates with many Nigerians who understand the challenges and sacrifices involved in pursuing a dream. From his humble beginnings to his meteoric rise in European football, Zirkzee's story is one of perseverance, dedication, and determination.

While his national team choice may disappoint some Nigerian football fans, it's a testament to the global nature of football and the interconnectedness of cultures on the pitch.

The Bologna star had already acknowledged the strong striking options available to the Super Eagles at the moment and admitted that he would face some stiff competition that might have influenced his final decision.

He went on to also admit that the attacking departments of both the Dutch team and the Nigerian side are similar in terms of talents and quality available but remain very competitive.

Joshua Zirkzee goes Dutch with his ‘street football’

Away from the champagne football, street football style would connect more to footballers on the African scene and maybe South America, but Joshua Zirkzee recently declared himself as one in a recent interview with Corriere della Sera.

“If you play on the street you often do it against older guys. You have to find a way to protect yourself, develop more skills, you have to be faster, stronger, have better technique,” said the former Bayern Munich player.

“You want to impress the big guys, earn their respect, show them who’s the best. And when you enter a real training centre, certain things stay with you and make a difference.

“Often yes. I want people to have fun when they come to see me. But more than individually, it is better to impress the stadium as a team.”

The 22-year-old will be aiming to make a strong impact when he serves off with the Dutch national team later this month.

Zirkzee open to Nigeria nationality switch
Photo by Icon Sport

Joshua Zirkzee: Happily ever after after Nigeria snub?

As Joshua Zirkzee prepares to make his senior debut for the Netherlands potentially, Nigerian fans can't help but feel a twinge of disappointment mixed with pride. 

Disappointed that he won't be wearing the green and white of the Super Eagles, but pride in seeing a talented young player achieve success on the international stage. 

Zirkzee may have chosen the Netherlands, but he remains a symbol of Nigerian excellence and a source of inspiration for aspiring footballers across the country.

However, while Joshua Zirkzee's inclusion in the Dutch squad may be seen as a blow to Nigeria, it's also a reminder of the complexities and nuances inherent in international football.

His decision reflects the universal struggle of balancing identity, ambition, and opportunity.

And as Nigerian fans continue to support their own on the global stage, they do so with the hope that one day, talent like Zirkzee will proudly represent the green and white of the Super Eagles.

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Rotimi Akindele

Rotimi Akindele is a Sports Journalist with almost two decades' experience. He is a TV and radio host, commentator and writer who has covered major sporting events across the globe. Akindele's sports content has been listened to and read by a global audience. He is a well-known figure within Nigeria and the African football scene.