One part of the now popular Super Eagles ‘Oyibo Wall’, Leon Balogun expressed his joy over Nigeria’s qualification for the World Cup in an emotional manner on Saturday – He simply cried his eyes out on the accomplishment of the team over the surprisingly dangerous Zambians.
Bent on his knees with tears of joy freely flowing after regulation time, he was later embraced by team captain, Mike obi who was a titan in the middle of the pack for the victorious Eagles.
Troost Ekong and Balogun have struck a very solid partnership in the Super Eagles defense. The duo were as aggressive as any pair of center halves could be in a match of such significance and gave as good as they got from the fast and skillful Chipolopolo attackers.
Speaking after the game, Balogun, an offspring of a Nigerian father and German mother, eligible to play for Germany, but chose Nigeria, said he never even gave a thought to play for the world champions.
“I have never played for Germany since I started playing football. I think it’s just some commitment that I prefer playing for Nigeria. I don’t know what it is but I can tell you, I never really thought of playing for Germany,” he said.
The FSV Mainz 05 of Germany defender was first called up by Nigeria for a March 2014 friendly against Mexico as a replacement for Joseph Yobo but was injured after 20 minutes in a collision with the signage on the touchline. He bounced back from that mixed debut and played his second game for Nigeria in a 1-0 loss against Uganda on March 25, 2015.
Balogun played his third game for the country on June 13, 2015 when he featured in a 2–0 win over Chad in the opening game of qualifying for the 2017 African Nations Cup.
His contributions in the games against Algeria and the double header matches versus Cameroun have endeared him to many Nigerians.
However, Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Zambia trumps his other appearances for Nigeria – that was the day Nigeria set a new record for an African country appearance at the World Cup and Leon Balogun, barring any unfortunate incident is certain to grace Russia with his fatherland.