Kevin Akpoguma: German youth star open to Nigeria call-up

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Former Germany youth international Kevin Akpoguma says he would consider playing for Nigeria at senior international level – if the Europeans failed to give him a chance.

Akpoguma, 23, who plays for Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, has a German mother and a Nigerian father – making him eligible to play for the three-time African champions. Under Fifa rules he is free to switch because he has not yet played for Germany’s senior national team.

And, despite 62 Germany caps from under-16 to under-21 level, Akpoguma says he will not close the door on Nigeria. “I was born in Germany and I have played for all the youth teams of Germany and I am still a young player,” Akpoguma told Nigeria’s Guardian Newspaper.

“I want to leave it open because Germany can still call me. But if I have no other option to play for Germany, then I can consider playing for Nigeria because my dad is from Nigeria. “My father has told me to listen to my heart… he doesn’t want to put pressure on me to make any decision. It is very important I make the right decision.”

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Akpoguma has been in impressive form for Hoffenheim this season, missing only three games in the league campaign. But his performances have yet to convince German manager Joachim Löw, who has a plethora of world-class defenders at his disposal.

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Akpoguma’s admission could give Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr an extra option as he looks for a long-term addition to the regular centre back duo of Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong.

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“I believe that if you want to play for a country I think you should play for that country with love and passion,” he added. “That is why if I play for Nigeria I should be in a position to play my whole career for them. No half measures.

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“Gernot Rohr visited us here in Hoffenheim and talked a lot about the young team he is building. I saw it at the World Cup; there are very good players like Iwobi, Ndidi and Leon Balogun.

“He explained all the things because I had a good conversation with him. But as I said, I want to leave every door open. When the time comes, I will let the world know my decision.” Akpoguma started his professional career at Karlsruhe SC and also played for Fortuna Düsseldorf.

He captained Germany at the 2015 Fifa U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, helping Germany edge Nigeria 1-0 in the second round.

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