Eze: No regrets playing for England over Nigeria

Eberechi Eze said he has no regrets in choosing England over Nigeria after accepting Gareth Southgate’s call-up to the Three Lions squad for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers.

England travel to Malta on Friday before hosting North Macedonia in Manchester on Tuesday with Eze aiming to make his senior debut after an impressive end to the domestic campaign with Crystal Palace.

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The 24-year-old scored six goals in his final 10 appearances as Palace rallied under interim boss Roy Hodgson to comfortably avoid relegation and Eze subsequently opted to join up with England, ending lengthy speculation he could represent Nigeria.

Eze was born in south London to Nigerian parents and although he represented England at Under-20 and Under-21 level, then Nigerian Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick met with the midfielder in December 2019 and he stated afterwards: “I am confidently hopeful that he will play for Nigeria soon.”

However, Eze will now play for England instead and asked to explain the factors in his decision, he told a news conference on Tuesday: “[It was] more just speaking to the people around me, my family, my wife, getting good advice from the people around, trying to think what is the best decision for myself and my career.

“We think that this is the best one. It is a big opportunity for me, it is the highest level of football. I look at it with no regret at all.

“It is the highest level of football, you want to test yourself against that, you want to be in that and you can see from the quality of the team, where they are getting to, the confidence they are playing with, it is incredible. So, being part of that is big.

“I received the call and I felt it was the right decision to make and I am very, very happy to be here.”

Eze also revealed the motivation he took from missing out on a place at Euro 2020 through injury. Southgate confirmed last month that Eze would have been part of his provisional squad for the delayed tournament two years ago had he not suffered an Achilles tendon problem.

Eze learned of the call-up moments after sustaining the injury and he said: “It is hard to put into words, I look at things a bit differently, I saw that as ‘I am on the right trajectory’ although it is a sad situation I was in. No-one wants to be injured but I saw that as ‘this is the level that you can get to’ so I put my mind right, focus on my rehab. It gave me the motivation to keep going.”

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