Man United U-23 player Kehinde pledges future to Nigeria
Manchester United’s Tosin Kehinde has set his sights on playing for Nigeria and has already made moves to become a Super Eagle.
The 19-year-old, an Under 23 squad player at United, was born in Lagos but raised in the UK and is eligible to play for both Nigeria and England.
“Nigeria has always been a part of me. I was born there. My whole family are Nigerian. I come from a very strong Nigerian background so the influence has always been around me,” Kehinde told BBC Sport.
The player, who is at home playing in midfield but can also play as a left wing-back, met Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) officials last weekend to start the process of formalising his Nigerian footballing status.
He was accompanied by his parents to the meeting which took place in London.
Kehinde says he wants to follow in the footsteps of Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi who opted to play for the Super Eagles instead of England in 2015.
“When you are growing up, when you see players like Jay Jay Okocha, how good he was and the current crop of players such as Alex Iwobi and Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi, the desire to get the opportunity to play for Nigeria has always been there really,” said Kehinde.
Kehinde started playing football for a junior Sunday league team when he was just 7-years-old.
At 13 he joined Manchester United’s junior ranks, rising through the age groups to play for the Under 23 squad.
He is yet to make an appearance in Jose Mourinho’s first team squad but he has occasionally trained with the team at the invitation of the Portuguese manager.
“I hope to play in the first team, that’s every player’s dream and my dream also.
“The manager’s [Jose Mourinho’s] continued belief in the youth and giving people opportunity has made me feel that if I keep working hard maybe I can get the opportunity as well,” said Kehinde.
He hopes to follow in the footsteps of other former youth players including Marcus Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay and Axel Tuanzebe who have all played in United’s first team under Mourinho.